Studies by various denominations have confirmed that rural churches in America and Europe have been losing members at a substantial rate.
The Adirondack Park Regional Assessment Project report, released in 2009 by the Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages, showed that the Adirondacks, particularly the central regions, have lost up to one-third of their population since 1970.
The number of children living year-round in the Adirondacks have decreased even more drastically, according to the report’s recent update.
It’s likely due to the young adults moving out of the region for better job opportunities and launching their families elsewhere.
This is particularly hard on the churches here, as it’s the young children that have traditionally drawn their parents into church life. The result of this population hemorrhaging has been a lot of empty pews, scarce attendance at Sunday schools, and elimination of many church social events and outreach programs.
Add to these trends the new attitude espoused by Baby Boomers and their offspring that stresses individualism and more and more people are interested in church only on their own terms.
With this shift in demographics and attitude — and social media and electronic media increasingly competing for our time and attention — the families who remain here have an ever-greater responsibility to keep the churches not only alive and solvent, but vibrant and influential.
Let’s head back to church Jan. 1 and thereafter.
We need our churches and their activities, and they need us.
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