After a brief flowering of semi-weak internet fame, my readership is on the decline. Gone are the halcyon days of July when I was getting over 120 hits a day. . . now I'm declining, only 80. Oh noes, what am I to do?
Maybe I should try to be more hip and edgy? Or maybe I should see what worked -- ooOOoo, evanglism myths light up the search engines, maybe I should focus on nothing but that? Or maybe I should take more open and controversial political stands...
I mean, because, readership is declining - that means I must be doing a horrible job. . . .
Or not at all. You know, maybe I should still do what I set out to do here - rant about theology in my own smarmy way as rants about theology are brought on by events and influences in my life, and let the chips fall where they may. And perhaps I should rejoice in what I have, because it wasn't that long ago where my daily readership was around 35... or maybe I should simply write for my own theological focus and benefit and go from there.
Of course - I hope you realize this post really isn't about readers of this blog. From a sheer egotistical point of view, I enjoy having you all read - I do enjoy it if I get someone like Father Hollywood riled up (um, must get more readers . . . um... Jesus' brothers WERE the children of Joseph and Mary... there, that should do it!) - but really this is about our congregations.
We can be terrified of numbers. We can see any number in decline, and in the thick of things, we can panic. We can remember better days in the past when the place was a bit more full, and then we can start searching to figure out what we were doing "right" back then to pack people in, or we can start thinking about what we need to change into in order to pull more people in.
How about simply being faithful? How about simply being a place where the Word of God is preached in all its purity, purity that upsets and offends some. And this is good, because our vision and scope is limited.
I was discussing just random pastoral practice things with Seminarian Hobson (who will be off to the Fort for year 4 before I get back from a short trip to CA), and I said, "So, I suppose I've got roughly 100 people who are members here who might show up for something or need me" - as opposed to what the books say with 75+ who live out of state, and another 50+ that are members elsewhere/haven't darkened the door in 6 years (we don't have a good roster cleaning mechanic).
I wrote 100 on the board with a little shame. . . it seems so few. I mean, Jay could remember times 15 years ago when that was what you might get on a Sunday... and his eyes lit up in surprise. . . and I asked him if he were surprised, and he said, "You really think there are still 100 people left?"
I do. It's roughly right (here's the hint - count your offering envelopes - those are the people your financial folks think might show up and contribute something at some point over the course of a year). But whereas I saw 100 and was disappointed - he was impressed. He's been out in schooling for 7 years, and has grow in wisdom, and knows what a meat grinder the world is, knows what simple aging is doing to this town, area, and congregation - and so without his artificial expectations, he wasn't disappointed with reality.
Guess what, oh Congregations, understand oh Pastors - sometimes you are just going to be small. Sometimes you are going to be on what seems to be an inevitable decline. Perhaps it will be the decline, perhaps there will be a reflowering -- you don't know, you don't see all ends. So don't worry about that - be faithful.
Proclaim Christ. Teach and Learn. Receive the Supper. Mayhaps God will bring growth - mayhaps people aging and dying is the slow shaking off of the dust of your feet of this godless time and and age. You don't know - and you don't need to know.
Focus on the Cross. See your own sin, confess it, and receive forgiveness. That way you will have life -- and let institutions, fame, repute, and all these worldly things go where they will - your life is beyond these things, your life is Christ and is for eternity, is for the New Heaven and the New Earth where all these things that vex us so needlessly will be forgotten.
Come quickly, Lord Jesus.
Oh, and please, please please tell your friends about my blog. . . Weedon has more readers than I do, and I need to catch up to him (snicker, snicker. . .)