Monday, 11 April 2011

Never too old

I've just read an article in the paper about some research done on church attendance. The research suggests that the decline in church attendance has something to do with the fact that as a population we are healthier, live longer and, therefore, are less pre-occupied with death and the need to think of life after death. On this basis, it says, the young will not be interested  in religion and the other end of the age spectrum is where we need to pitch our evangelisation efforts. There is reference to the Cof E and its efforts to use "street cred" approaches with young people without too much success. There are, obviously far more complex reasons for decline in membership of churches, and far more complex reasons than fear of death for making a committment to a life of faith; but there may be something useful here.

There is, rightly, an emphasis on "youth" in catechesis and recruitment but, sometimes  it seems, to the detriment of older people. The Church, naturally, thinks of the next generation but there are vast numbers of retired people who are not believers or certainly not practitioners. They are the people who need to  hear the Gospel just as much as the young. Their need to accept their salvation through Jesus Christ is just as necessary as that of a teenager with a long life ahead. And the bonus is that such people would have time to attend Church more frequently, to participate in parish life and work and would , hopefully, be able to offer an example to younger members of their families.

Perhaps those responsible for the Diocesan evangelisation strategy should think about this.

This is what Psalm 91 says about the usefulness of the old:
                                        "The just will flourish like the palm tree
                                          and grow like a Lebanon cedar......
                                          still bearing fruit when they are old,
                                          still full of sap, still green......