Where have all the people gone?

November 10, 2022

Alexandra Hullquist

As of late I've begun to wonder where all the people have gone at  Sabbath school,  weekly prayer meetings,  Friday evening vespers, even church services. Is it because the services start too early? That can't be it because Sabbath school used to start at 9:15 with a rousing song service, but now generally starts at 10:00. Could it be that people don't like singing anymore? That can't be it because everyone and his uncle (aunt too!) has put out a CD, music videos, mp3s, etc. Can it be that people don't like to gather together anymore? This can't be either because just check out an eatery, a bar (maybe don't actually check that out!), an NFL game at a stadium,  and any number of places and we can be sure this is not the case. Then what can the matter be?

Growing up, all the church-connected occasions were packed with eager attendees, I being among them. I remember looking forward to each gathering, not wanting ever to be late and miss out on any part of the gathering from the songs to the sermon, and everything in between. And did we sing!! We veritably raised the roof with our singing, simply accompanied by a piano and one song leader.

Some have postulated that it's because the young people aren't empowered or included in participation. Others say we are all too busy with life. Then there is screen time which can preclude any other activity. Or maybe evenings are the only time with family. or for getting in some exercise. Another reason could be that there is no desire for spiritual things, other than maybe personal time with God. Or...could it be that we are finding different ways to be spiritually active and involved? I'd dare wager that it is a mix of all the above, and I wish I knew the answer, the solution, the formula for changing it back to the "good ol' days". But unfortunately that  can't be done. Because we are here. Now.

Another question comes to mind: Is spiritual growth dependent on these meetings  described above? Or can we spiritually grow, and assist others in their growth by each living a Godly life as we mingle with others at work, at home, at the grocery store, and anywhere else we are? This reminds me of  the childhood song about being a sermon in shoes where we are told to walk it and talk it; preach it and teach it; know it and show it; live it and give it.  I wonder if this is more of the type of life Micah describes when he says, "He has shown you oh man what is good, and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8 And "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to to keep unspotted from the world." James 1:27 

So where have all the people gone? I don't rightly know, but I pray that we are all filling our flagons with oil daily, and then letting out lights shine wherever we are, whatever we do.