Gas Prices and Church Attendance

This past Saturday’s front page of the local Centre Daily Times featured a McClatchy Newspaper story suggesting that rising gas prices may permanently affect the lifestyle of Americans.

Of course, pastors such as myself wonder how it will affect church attendance and involvement.

A recent USA Today story touched on this somewhat, but one wonders if the church attendance megatrend of the past 20 years may begin to reverse itself.

What is that trend?

Well, one might call it the Wal-Marting of worship. Many years ago, small congregations built worship buildings within walking/carriage distance within small communities or at crossroads in rural farming areas.

Over the past few decades, more and more people chose to drive to larger congregations in nearby larger communities, which could offer more expansive children’s and youth programs as well as stirring, semi-professional music. (Of course, the preaching wasn’t necessarily any better.:)) As a result, many of the smaller congregations fell on hard times as scores of cars would pass them on the way to the big city.

One now wonders if that trend will begin to reverse itself. I have been told by some that they cannot afford to travel 45 minutes and be involved in our congregation and are choosing to attend somewhere closer to home.

I don’t know; it’s too soon to predict a megatrend yet, but one wonders.

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