The struggle to choose the hymns for the small rural congregation I serve is a microcosm of the challenges faced by members of the Presbyterian Committee on Congregational Song (PCOCS) as it decides what hymns and songs to include in the next Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) hymnal and electronic resources.
A commissioner to the General Assembly (our denomination’s national
meeting that happens every two years), came back to report on what he
did. He was a bit disappointed that he was on the church growth
committee. The first day they sat down and talked about how if the
church continues to decline at the same rate, then there will be no
members left in forty years.
One of the things I most appreciate about the call stories in the Bible
is that there is no single template. When Peter, Andrew, James and John
are summoned by Jesus to leave their nets to follow him, “immediately”
they do just that (Luke 4:18-22).
By one estimate 7,000 churches close down each year in the United States. A 2012 study predicted that 20 percent of the churches in Philadelphia would close within ten years. Many of these churches are architectural gems. Razing these buildings can be very expensive. A more satisfactory solution is to repurpose them, turning them into art and culture centers or housing units. The Mount Airy Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia is having 20 condominiums built on its property. The sanctuary will be leased back to the congregation for its continued use (Philadelphia Inquirer, August 4).