There’s a problem in front of the pulpit

I wasn’t expecting to get frustrated with the church we’re now attending, but now that we’ve been in our new location for a year the imperfections have begun to show and this time my wife and I find ourselves in the opposite position that we were in when I wrote this post (

To set the scene, this church is predominantly an elderly congregation. The blunt bottom line is that unless the church attracts a significant number of younger people it will cease to be able to function. By younger I mean working people in the 20-40 year age group. Even the 40-60 age range is not that well stocked. The pastor and his wife are middle aged, placing them among the youngest church members.

The church has struggled along for a time with this elderly, however, its location in the town is an advantage and it has a thriving youth club setup where it is very busy each Friday night. Not many of these kids translate into young adults on a Sunday morning though. For that to happen there needs to be a change.

This is where the problems are.

When we first started attending the church more than a year ago, Sunday worship consisted of either a piano or the organ (which is a rather decent pipe organ) being played somewhat averagely or for a chorus, the song was played from a CD. It really wasn’t very inspiring.

The pastor has worked very hard to be relevant to a younger congregation because he knows this is what he needs to attract to the church. Other church members have apparently been praying hard for a long time for someone talented to come and improve the music aspects of Sunday services.

So when the pastor employs an office assistant, a lady with a good singing voice married to a man who plays keyboards in a band, and shortly after my wife turns up, also with a good singing voice, and music skills and a desire to lead worship; its seen by some as the answer they’ve been looking for.

If it was so perfect, what went wrong?

People, that’s what went wrong.

A year has gone by and my wife regularly leads worship and when she does the church gets treated to a very skilled keyboardist, a gentle drummer and two wonderful female vocals. Occasionally she pulls out her flute as well. She puts a lot of effort into making sure what she arranges is thoughtful, fits with theme and sensitive to as many needs as she can.

However, its still not good enough for some because now its like they are being performed to and they don’t want that. Its also been noted that the three couples mentioned above socialise a lot together and some think that’s not on. As it happens, the three men (Pastor, Keyboardist and myself) all go the local camera club and the three ladies have become good friends. Its only natural that there would be dinners between them all, after all, without each other the three couples wouldn’t have the essential social life of people the same age.

That’s not all that there is, there are some people with specific theological agendas, some of which conflict with the pastor. From what I’ve seen, I think the pastor is right and those with the agendas are on questionable theological ground.

So here I am, in the unexpected position of being an atheist in support of a pastor, who I call a good friend, while elderly Christians, people of long standing faith who should know better, threaten the church and spread bitterness. A sizeable number of people are apparently absent from services now and the pastor’s attempts to visit and reconcile have been rebuffed. I say apparently absent, because I no longer attend, but that’s for another post.


5 thoughts on “There’s a problem in front of the pulpit

  1. People, that’s what went wrong.

    That is so often the problem.

    I’m too far from the situation to know what is going on. However, it does look as if there is a generational problem. Many older folk look back to “the good old days” which is probably the way that they remember the world from when they were in their twenties. And younger folk appreciate the modernity of the present and enjoy seeing the progress. It is always hard to find a way of satisfying both groups.

    Reading between the lines, it looks to me as if there might be some jealousy about the small group who are close friends and socialize together. Perhaps there need to be other, more inclusive activities for members of the Church, so that they won’t have a feeling of being left out.

    My honest advice – there is nothing that you can do about this. Perhaps your wife can do something, if she can come up with some good ideas on her own initiative. And, of course, you could support her in that. But I don’t think you are in a position to initiate ideas of your own.

    In any case, best wishes. And take what I have written above with a grain of salt, given that I really don’t know the situation.

    • Thanks Neil,

      As I have come to expect, you are right in your analysis and your advice is well aimed.

      I don’t think there is anything I can do and it shall probably frustrate me lots.

      Re the older generation; there is a terrible irony here. This church needs young people to be attracted to it if it is to survive. The older generation has no choice but to adapt, the alternative is the church dies. It really is that simple.

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