The man I was visiting with on the phone knows more than most about the status of Baptist churches in Oklahoma. He is aware of trends and realities in all sizes of churches. In the midst of our discussion about other things, I turned the conversation by asking a question.
“In comparison with before the pandemic, where are most Baptist churches in Oklahoma today?”
His response was immediate and specific.
“Most churches are from 60% on the low side to 80% on the high side. During the pandemic, many people our age (he is also in his 60’s) went to the lake. They became accustomed to online church, and many of them will never come back.” He continued, “For the first year pastors were elated that the giving remained consistent in spite of the decline in attendance. This year, that has changed. Since people are only loosely connected to their churches, their giving has decreased accordingly.”
“Many of them will never come back.”
The matter-of-fact comment kept resurfacing in my mind. Never? How could genuine followers of Jesus ditch His bride, the church? How could they “Get out of the habit and stay out of the habit?” I don’t really have an answer for my question, but I do accept the reality of the situation.
Moving forward, my strategy is to continue building bridges to as many people as possible without building walls in the paths of anyone. All who choose to return to active involvement in Weatherford’s First Baptist Church will be welcomed with open arms. Those who opt to remain detached will remain on the church rolls with hundreds of others who never darken the doors of the church. I will speak to them when I see them and pray for them when I think of them.
I will not allow those who are detached to determine the future of the church. God will provide members who want to attend and serve and lead. Those members of the body will remain my focus as we move forward in making disciples for the Lord Jesus. We are not in uncharted territory.
“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out that it might become plain that they all are not of us.”
I John 2:19, Earl
- This Sundays Sermon “Build the Church” I Corinthians 3:1-17
- Family Worship and LifeGroups, Sundays at 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
- Services are being posted on the church website, the church YouTube channel at FBC Weatherford Media, and on the church Facebook page at 9:00 a.m. each Sunday