Pastor’s Blog – July 21, 2019
Recently I brought to light our situation as a church with regards to its lifespan. I have grown increasingly concerned over the aging of our congregation and the ability to turn back the clock. Aging in itself is a good and natural process, but it’s the time limits that concerns me. Do we have enough time to recover?
I recently received information from our membership director that the average age of our congregation is just under 63. When we consider that the average age of a citizen of Garland is 34 years of age, that equation should cause us to pause and take concern. We may all think that all the people in Garland is in their 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s but reality tells us that the people who live around our church are more likely to be in their 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s. This gap in age needs our immediate attention.
According to Jimmy Long, author of Emerging Hope: A Strategy for Reaching Postmodern Generations, “a church needs at least twenty-five percent of its participants in the eighteen to thirty-five age group, or its future may be in doubt.” Twenty-five percent! Unfortunately, this is hardly an achievable goal for most of United Methodist congregations.
It is clear that we as a church need to grow younger. Lowering our average age should be our number one priority from a logistical perspective. The church’s mission, vision, goals, and objectives should center on growing younger.
The best way to address this issue, from a practical point of view, is to work hard to connect to our community. Our community is our future. We need to recognize that our community is not what it was in the 70’s and 80’s when most houses in the 75043 zip code area were built. Our community has changed. A clear 49% of our local residents are either Hispanic or African-American. Only 66% of people who live in our neighborhood speak English as their primary language. All these stats point to the idea that our primary mission field is here at home.
Let us all join in a common effort to promote our church to our community. Our buildings and grounds should be a positive reflection of our church. Our worship services should be sensitive to other traditions within our area. Our programs should center on ways to meet the needs of our neighborhood. We have already made great strides in connecting with the schools across the street. People in our community trust us. We can, however, do better in reaching out to those around us. This is what Christ expects of us.