By Kyle Gascho
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” ...
These are the first words of Ecclesiastes 3. I’m not sure about you, but the first thing that comes to mind upon reading this first sentence is change.
Yes, I said it! Change is the thing most of us in Church land (and even beyond) dread. The entire world has gone through significant change over the past two years.
As we delve further into the passage from Ecclesiastes 3, we read that there is “a time to embrace”. We need to embrace the changes happening all around us. Societal change, environmental change, technological change, etc., are all types of change we see happening around us in everyday life. Embrace them!
Our Church has so much to offer, and maintaining the status quo is not going to help us keep the doors open. Shake things up and try new things! Host a Super Bowl party or weekly hockey night in Canada showings in your parish hall! Try out your first ever online auction!
As the famous proverb says, “nothing ventured, nothing gained”! If you try something new and it fails, you are no further ahead than when you first started. My good friend says he’s going to throw a geriatric dance party at St. James, and I’m going to hold him to that!
Ecclesiastes 3 states that there is “a time to break down, and a time to build up”. Without change there can’t be growth, and without growth leaves death.
How do we grow when the Anglican Church of Canada is experiencing declining membership? How do we reverse this trend?
In his doctoral thesis “Bucking the Trend: A Study of the Local Theologies Contributing to Numerically Growing Anglican Congregations in the dioceses of Huron and Toronto”, Rev. Dr. Grayhame Bowcott highlights numerous congregations that are “bucking the trend” and have actually seen growth in past years.
What are these congregations doing differently to see an increase in average attendance?
It has become evident that in order to stay relevant in our communities, major change needs to happen.
Gone are the days that we can rely on traditional ways to keeping our doors open. It’s time to think outside the box and to shift our focus outward rather than inward.
Kyle Gascho is the support assistant at Huron Church House and Verger at St. James', Stratford.