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Smaller, but stronger?

Credit: John Price/

To say that the pandemic lockdowns have been difficult for the church would be an understatement, but a recent poll by Lifeway of regular protestant church attenders reveals that 68% of the people surveyed said that they plan to return to church with the same regularity they had in the past.

However, what is concerning 9% stated they will attend less if at all.

And according to Lifeway, there was evidence of this in January this year when nearly two thirds of the churches that reopened reported that they were running 70% below their normal attendance.

Some believe this happened because people are still fearful of returning to public gatherings, and those numbers will increase once the pandemic is behind them.

And while those number suggest that there is room for concern, the Lifeway poll also revealed that nearly a quarter (23%) of those surveyed planned to increase their church attendance.

Significantly, the age group most likely to do this were those between the ages of 18 to 29, where 43% stated they were planning to attend more services.

Though, we often consider church attendance as a major sign of success, and put the mega churches, 2,000+ attendance, on the success pedestal, God is not as fascinated by the big numbers like we are.

When God raised up Gideon to go to war against the Midianites, twice God purposefully whittled down Gideon’s army reducing it from 32,000 men to 300.

Most are familiar with the funny story of how the army was whittled down from 10,000 to 300 when Gideon selected the men who were on their hands and knees lapping from the river like a dog over those who kneeled and drank from their hands.

But this wasn’t the big purge.

It happened when Gideon said that those who were worried and fearful could leave the army (Judges 7: 3-4). When that allowance was publicly given, overnight Gideon’s army shrunk from 32,000 to 10,000.

This does not mean that the 10,000 who remained did not have fear and concerns. Absolutely, they did because they were going against the Midianites who had successfully plundered Israel for several years.

But they chose to believe God.

It is not popular being a Christian these days. Not only did we have to deal with politicians purposefully targeting churches while at the same time allowing casinos to reopen.

Others are going beyond political and legal threats, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, a pastor reported that he received death threats after announcing his church was reopening in accordance to COVID guidelines. Because of complaints, police actually attended the service not protect against the threats, but to make sure there were no violations.

Then on top of this, the church is being mocked because of the dozens of major ministries prophesying that Trump would win re-election. They all claimed to speak for God, and they were all wrong.

If the church can come through 2020 with 23% stating they will be attending more services and 68% stating they will be attending like before, I consider that a win. The church may be smaller, but it will be stronger.

READ: Nearly a quarter of churchgoers plan to attend worship more regularly post-pandemic: Lifeway AND Belfast pastor says he received threats after choosing to reopen church

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