That was the headline1 I spotted this morning on the BBC news website. What was more heartening though was the age profile of the contributors: one 17-year old and three in their 20s. They came from different faith traditions. The Christian contributor, Philip, talks about the anxiety he felt when he first discovered worship services were suspended. He then goes on to say that he has created a prayer space in his home where he can focus on Jesus, deepening his prayer life and giving him strength when he has felt lonely. He also gives thanks to his church for providing service sheets for people to worship at home and bringing people together virtually.
Philip’s testimony wasn’t the only thing that resonated though, as I’d also been reflecting on another virtual Christian gathering where the age profile had been younger than we perhaps typically see in our own church. The age profile wasn’t as young as those in the news item, but for those in their 30s, 40s and 50s who perhaps belong to Methodist churches where the majority of members are older, I would like to think that it encouraged them to ‘see’ others of a similar age with a passion for the future of the Methodist Church. Whilst it’s true we are declining in numbers and the age profile is weighted towards the upper end, it’s not all doom and gloom. We might be a smaller Church, but Jesus was never interested in numbers. There are signs of hope that those who follow in the footsteps of their elders who have given years of faithful service will continue God’s mission, which was never static anyway.
(1. For the full news article, see https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/newsbeat-53081929)