“To get the young people to come, you almost have to cooperate with their tastes.” Â That’s the quote from 92 year old Ethel Sprague.Â Ethel joined First Baptist Church of Stevens Point in 1937.Â She’s been attending ever since…
An article in the Stevens Point Journal
gives us the story.
Ethel says “You can’t imagine what it was like years and years ago. We had the church jammed full of people in the balcony, in the gym — young people, college-aged kids, young families. It was really hopping… It has gone downhill tremendously in the last few years. We’ve lost a lot of the congregation to other churches and because of death and a lot of families are moving.”
In fact, the once thriving First Baptist Church of Stevens Point is now down to 25 people.
Enter Kelly Knauss, the new pastor at FBC.Â His goal:Â to restart the church and watch it emerge as a viable church that once again reaches the Stevens Point community.Â He knows he only has 18-24 months to do this, or the church will be shut down.
How many times could this story be written about churches in America?Â Once thriving churches that are dying (literally).
Ethel’s quote caught my eye:Â “It’s not the old-fashioned church service that we knew as older people with the organ and the choir…to get the young people to come, you almost have to cooperate with their tastes.”
After attending FBC for more than 73 years, Ethel wants one thing:Â for FBC to be effective and to reach people.Â Her conclusion:Â things have to change.Â She’s come to the realization that the organ and choir are not the best ways to reach people (or to keep FBC alive).Â Even though that would be her preference, she’s faced reality that the gospel is more important than her own style preference.
Notice that she said that the tastes of the church need to change; not the message or doctrine have to change.
Ethel is a very wise lady.Â I hope she gets what she is hoping for:Â a church that is vibrant and once again reaching her community.Â A church that is ‘hopping’.Â And I hope that God will give her a few more years so that she can see that dream become a reality.
Because… I’m guessing… there is NOTHING that would make Ethel happier.Â A couple hundred people who know Jesus, even if there’s no choir or organ.
Take a moment and pray for Ethel today; and for Pastor Knauss and FBC Stevens Point.Â They can use our prayers…