Anxiety and fear may stalk our personal lives, but they can also stalk a congregation. In the United States today, so-called Mainline churches (like ours) are experiencing a declining membership.
Parents have come to believe that Sunday morning is best spent at the soccer field and not in Sunday School. Sabbath rest comes from reading the Sunday paper or watching TV.
In this situation, when anxiety and fear may set in, we are less attractive. People can tell when we are nervous about the future. I worry about what the congregation will look like in ten years. I should not do that.
Instead I should focus on doing the basics. Gimmicks and novelty for its own sake gives away our private fears. I try to stay focused on doing the basics as well as we can: singing hymns, liturgy, hospitality, preaching, the sacraments, education, stewardship, and benevolence. Once I thought that being clever or innovative would grow any congregation. Now I think we do best when we focus on the powerful center of our sacred calling: worship, service, friendship and justice. Perhaps I'm just getting old, or, more appreciative of what got us here.
Bless you all.