I pondered why the congregation of Pakistan’s Main Churches is shrinking, what are the reasons, causes and aspects. After cogitating this matter, I got the answers of some of the reasons and causes behind the shrinking congregation. Let's consider these reasons and causes that why our churches are dying. I know that's a depressing theme, but it's also reality.
Unfortunately some of our pastors are only working just as an employee, they are only interested in their salary, they pass four Sundays somehow by giving a sermon and that’s it. They do not want to take and to indulge in any kind of responsibilities or in any programs for the youth and for the congregation. If you ask them their extra time or invite them for the prayer purpose they will tell you an excuse that they have some family problem or exams of their kids or no conveyance etc. And I always think that if our church leader or Pastor cannot solve his family problems then how can he solve the problems of his congregation, how he can lead his worshippers. All over the world the Church Leader is similar to a Father for the congregation but our church leaders work like a simple employee in some private company, who are just waiting for the salary. So, this is one of the biggest reasons of decrease in the congregation of the church which has such non serious pastors. Simply, if the pastors have no time for their congregation then people do not have time for the church.
Also, one of the main reasons behind the shrinking congregation of some of our main cathedrals (a church that also serves as the seat of the bishop, normally it is the main church of the dioceses) and churches are that their Bishops and Pastors and their aging congregation are not willing to welcome the younger generations and new neighbors into the fold. For example, if 30 years back the congregation where 80 people still they are 80 or less because they had made their own group of high class and low class congregation. Such a congregation does not come to pray, they only come to show off their wealth every Sunday. So, because of such reasons our youth, common Christians and the poor find new ways and new congregations, ministries, denominations, sects to fit in. And because of this reason, we have more ministries than total number of Christians in Pakistan. It is very simple that every churchgoer sometimes wants to share his/her personal life with his Pastor or Bishop but our Bishops and Pastors are like Prime Ministers they never have time.
There was a time when the pastors where the only educated people in the church, but now the time has changed there are people in the congregation who are more educated and well experienced of whom pastors should take some advice because these highly educated worshipers have high expectations about the content/style of worship, how decisions are made, and the efficiency of congregational achievement.
There is nothing written in the theological books of the seminary that the bishops and the pastors should have cars and security staff to visit their congregation on daily basis, and until a pastor will not have a car he will not visit his congregation. Why our Bishops and Pastors do not understand that they are not Government Officials, they are the believers - the followers of the Jesus Christ they do not need the cars and security staff to visit the needy, poor or sick people. Our congregation is always waiting for our church leaders that they will come to visit our homes and our children but unfortunately they never and that’s why the gap between the young generation and the pastor is increasing and a time comes that our youth stops going to the church because for them the pastor is only an employee of that church and nothing more.
Our bishops and pastors should also keep up with the technological times. Our main churches and cathedrals should have proper websites where members should be informed for the upcoming events. Pastors can post their sermons, church timings and can post opportunities for the youth. Congregation can also use e-mail of that website in ways that range from publicizing events to sharing joys and concerns of churchgoers and sending out devotional messages. Church youth can share their own views on the church’s website and the pastor after reading their views can prepare a better plan for his youth which will help him to attract more youth and intelligent staff and will help him build his dying church again in a better and proper way.
Not all, but some of our pastors should also need to rethink about their sermons, just to repeat the same topic and the same process every Sunday is not what all of the congregation wants, I do not want to go to the church just to read 4 verses from the bible and to sing 4 psalms, this I can do at home but I want to go to experience a sense of God’s presence, inspiration and joy in worship. I want that every Sunday when I go to my church I will learn something new for my spiritual growth and knowledge.
What a human need is care, and if the congregation is getting the care and advocacy from his church leader, no one will ever leave his/her church. By care, I mean that our church leadership should not be gridlock they should also need to be active outside the sanctuary walls, in the community care, social service, charitable groups etc. Again I will write that our Pastors need to go door to door to welcome the younger generations and new neighbors and they need to show our people that they care and I assure them that they will have the biggest congregations.
In the end, I will write the most important aspect of our present world that our churches should not forget that this is 21st century – the world is changing rapidly and to attract again the growing Christian population in Pakistan back to the churches they (church leadership) need to find the new ways to preach Christ’s Gospel of Grace or else the result will be stagnating where there should be celebration.