Barna Research shows us that Church attendance is going down. Of course, we do not need to have a research company tell us that, because we can count our attendance every Sunday.
According to Barna:
“43% of American adults attend church in a typical weekend. (2002)
From the mid-eighties to the mid-nineties, church attendance was on a roller coaster ride. In 1986, 42% of adults attended a church service during a typical week in January. Attendance rose steadily, reaching a peak of 49% in 1991, before beginning a very slow but steady descent back to 43% in January 2002.
People are not attending church, even the members are not coming for regular services. The percentage of members attending church on a weekly basis is around 35%.”
Barna also tells us something very interesting “Among the 7 Most Controversial Statistics”: “4. By the end of the decade, 50 million Americans will seek to have their spiritual experience solely through the Internet, rather than at a church; and upwards of 100 million Americans will rely upon the Internet to deliver some aspects of their religious experience.”
Even though those numbers are from 2002, they reflect the same tendency in recent surveys.
People are looking for other places and venues to supply their spiritual needs. Church is not the main source of spiritual growth and spirituality anymore.
The Psalm 122 being a Psalm of Ascent tells us the excitement of the people when they were going to church. The Psalmist says: “I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” The idea of going to church would bring joy and happiness.
Do you remember the last time that you had joy when thinking that you were going to church? Is it the same happiness that you have when you go to a ball game, a movie theater, or a show? Are the expectations and excitement the same?
Why should we be so happy and rejoice when we go to church?
Why should we go to the church at all? This psalm will give us some good reasons to go to church.
The first reason is the FELLOWSHIP. That is the first reason to go to church that the psalmist gives us, fellowship. The journey was never alone for those who were going to Jerusalem. Families and friends would organize a caravan to go to worship. The idea of someone going by himself was unthinkable.
Verse 2 expresses this idea: “ Our feet are standing in your gates, O Jerusalem.”
And verse 4 tells us that the tribes would go up together. “ That is where the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord,” There was an expectation not only to go with family and friends, but also to see families and friends who lived in other parts of the country, and some in other parts of the world.
In this journey we go together because we are the tribes of the Lord. We are the family of God, we are brothers and sisters and this is a family gathering. Everyone is supposed to be there. We will be there to face all the hardships together. We will help each other during the journey.
There is inside of each one of us a desire to belong, to be part of something bigger. The church, the Family of God, gives us this opportunity.
Have a blessed week,