Week 89: "Why are Christian Science churches emptier than they were 50 years ago?"

Question: "Why are Christian Science churches emptier than they were 50 years ago?"

Response: Bill Warrick

There can be no doubt fewer people are attending Christian Science churches than 50 years ago. This is true for most denominations today. This might be because today people have higher expectations for meaningful personal involvement—the ability to make a difference— in any activity, including our involvement with organizations like church.

The expanded perception of what is possible for each of us as individuals, through more dynamic platforms for sharing like the Internet, has raised the bar for most of humanity in terms of engagement. And once we’ve seen the possibilities, it’s hard to go back. Being associated with a group is no longer sufficient—more of us now believe we can and should make a real difference in that group. This is a beautiful thing. It represents an expectation that continues to expand and envelop a planet of people with gifts for making everyone’s lives better.

So where does this leave the question of why there are fewer people in churches? Some church buildings may be emptier, but the desire to genuinely help others is not (for example, in 2012, almost 10% more people in America helped their neighbors with a need 1). Jesus started a movement based on acts and proof, not attending and pretending. If a church’s organization stifles or neglects individual and collective growth in this direction, in these times, that church may find fewer people attending. But, when the practicality of an idea can be proven, when it has a principle, it has independence. Its existence is independent of how many people believe it or know about it (think the laws of aerodynamics or physics). Jesus had perhaps 70 committed followers during his three years of preaching and healing and only four stood by him when he was crucified. Yet he could say, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Matt. 24:35, New Living Translation). The number of people attending church may rise and fall, but as long as there is one person who can prove the principle of healing, this proof is an ignitor that truth alone possesses, and it can restart a bonfire of activity at any time.

This post was originally published as a Question of the Week on time4thinkers.com
  1. Great question, great answer, thank you! What came to me when reading this, is,
    Science&Health starts with SH vii:13
    " The time for thinkers has come. " So thinking counts, how is it possible to measure thinking, how is it possible to say more in earlier times, less today? One cannot measure thinking. Mortal mind tries to understand and outline what it cannot grasp, tries to outline worth and activity of church by counting persons. How much was done through one thinker, Jesus ... what is possible for one idea ... do we know, what an amount of true thinking is expressed today through mankind, do we know how filled church is today ... do we know, where church starts and where church ends, is it a building ... do we know who is part of church ... when we measure it on individuals way of thinking, on their motives, their hearts ... do we know, the love individuals express ... how can we measure it, how can we judge about it ... what effect has one loving heart ... how big is heaven, how big is our movement ... we live in the 4th dimension of Spirit, we cannot measure it with the tools of the 3 dimensional space to which human thinking is used to. This fourth dimension is not emptiness, not vacuum, more and more we will get used to it, perceive how filled this true home is with ideas, the real you and me and the way to this understanding, I think is through loving, through learning to love, to love more, to love selfless, ... to love unselved...

  2. Let's try to keep on with our healing tasks.
    A great way to find new friends.
    Thank you!

  3. Thank you for the question and the answers. It occurs to me that in healing we reverse the material picture to see the spiritual truth in any case. Right where sinning mortal man appeared to mortals right there Jesus saw the perfect spiritual idea of God, and this view healed the sick, says Mrs. Eddy. So are we looking at the material picture of empty church instead of seeing the spiritual idea of church (the structure of Truth and Love) and its fulfillment? My view of church is and will continue to be the spiritual view, Truth and Love overflowing into the streets and over the cyber networks. Church IS ALIVE!!!

  4. To simplify "One is a majority." All it takes is one to do the right thing, and all will follow, since "RIGHT" is superior to "wrong."

  5. Thank you to both Mr. Warrick and Ute!
    I often find it helpful to stop looking at the picture of church attendance being diminished, and look instead to the fact that Mary Baker Eddy began this church alone with her understanding of the Christ --- which she felt compelled to share with mankind. Individually, what more do we need than that same, -- complete & never diminished -- desire? I've also read the Peel book, The Years of Trial, more than once, for a reminder building this church was never easy.

  6. MBE cautioned against over-intellectualizing CS. We can get euphoric talking to each other about how things 'really are' in absolute terms but the Christ has to come down to earth and produce enough results to stir the human mind to a change of base. Jesus preached few absolutes but healed thousands, as did his immediate followers, and this produced the great surge that spread Christianity over Europe and the Near East. The surge evaporated as Christianity became bureaucratized and split into unproductive groups that intellectually rationalized the need for healing out of existence. This is how the carnal mind works, and the disappearance of CS churches is a warning sign that should be heeded, or Mrs Eddy's sleep-shattering demonstrations of divine power may end up as an intellectually satisfying but unproductive philosophy that won't need any churches. We need more workers in the field!

  7. I'll speak from my experience...

    Christian Science takes great study and living a pure, dedicated and loving life. Many students feel that by doing the weekly lesson, participating in church, going through class instruction, and calling a practitioner when needed, covers all bases. Not true.

    If we are not individually healing on the highest level of Christian Science then we have work to do. Mrs. Eddy is no longer here to keep watch for us. She did leave for us with the greatest gift to mankind, Christian Science. But this Science needs to be demonstrated, not just adored. No different than music. If we truly accomplish what we're meant to do as Christian Scientists, then we wouldn't be able to contain the masses clamoring to come in the proverbial door.

    Mrs. Eddy was always working on waking her household up, and these were accomplished Scientists. Let's take in hand this lesson from our Leader.

    " But what of ourselves, and our times and obligations?
    Are we duly aware of our own great opportunities and
    responsibilities? Are we prepared to meet and improve
    them, to act up to the acme of divine energy wherewith
    we are armored?
    Never was there a more solemn and imperious call
    than God makes to us all, right here, for fervent de‐
    votion and an absolute consecration to the greatest and
    holiest of all causes. The hour is come. The great
    battle of Armageddon is upon us. The powers of evil
    are leagued together in secret conspiracy against the
    Lord and against His Christ, as expressed and opera‐
    tive in Christian Science. Large numbers, in desperate
    malice, are engaged day and night in organizing action
    against us. Their feeling and purpose are deadly, and
    they have sworn enmity against the lives of our standard-
    bearers.
    What will you do about it? Will you be equally in
    earnest for the truth? Will you doff your lavender-kid
    zeal, and become real and consecrated warriors? Will
    you give yourselves wholly and irrevocably to the great
    work of establishing the truth, the gospel, and the Science
    which are necessary to the salvation of the world from
    error, sin, disease, and death? Answer at once and practi‐
    cally, and answer aright!
    Mis.176:25-177:20

  8. Thank you for the question and the answer, and also for Ute's comment.

  9. I saw an interesting item on one of the PBS programs (I wish I could remember which one) in interview with an author whose research indicates that the decline in church attendance in the U.S. (especially) in the last 20 years or so is due to people feeling that there is not enough substance in the modern-church message, and therefore people are retreating into their own search for spiritual answers at home, a sense of private reverence, and even seeking healing, rather than going to churches with more emphasis on busywork, entertainment, socializing, and endless group thinks and a lot of talk. Although "light" religion became popular and a big draw in the 70s, and later, it has pretty much run its course, because people were "unfulfilled" said the interviewee. . . So something between hell, fire and damnation, and religitainment is what people are looking for now. Real spiritual answers, and churches that deliver on substance, and fellowship with those whose lives demonstrate the Christian faith --- or any faith. . ."Sincerity, and authentisity" is what the interviewee said people want. And the prediction from him was that as some churches being more diligent in spirituality and people begin to find church homes with a revived reverence toward a Diety and religious faith, they are beginning a return to churches. He said the pendulum is beginning to swing back to a more consecrated approach to religion. I'm sorry I didn't make a note of the interviewee or his book. . . I was just happy to hear the good news!

    How grateful we can be that Christian Science, discovered by Mrs. Eddy in 1866, and Church as Mrs. Eddy founded, reorganized and established it in 1892, (if we KEEP it that way as instructed) has been and will continue on a steady course always abreast of the times.

    When she reorganized her church in 1892 and through divine inspiration wrote the new design, which she says in her autobiography is a "spiritual organization" which is therefore permanent, she moved Christian Science and our church far beyond the earlier idea of commemorating and reinstating. . .looking back to days of healing. . .because once Christian Science was discovered and established, the "lost element of healing" was no longer "lost." It was found, and as she as a "scribe under orders" so eloquently stated the new design:

    Manual, p.19

    "THE FIRST CHURCH OF CHRIST, SCIENTIST, IN BOSTON, MASS., is designed to be built on the Rock, Christ; even the understanding and demonstration of divine Truth, Life, and Love, healing and saving the world from sin and death, thus to reflect in some degree the Church Universal and Triumphant."

    Our church has just what mankind (men and nations) is looking for, after the brief divergence into religious shallow waters. . . .Let us not think that Mrs. Eddy wrote with double meaning. . . an impossibility since she was not double-minded. . . let us keep our spiritual water deep and pure, yet active in Truth.

    Let all who call her Leader and would follow her keep the torch Mrs. Eddy threw to us burning brightly, so that all others who are looking for the spiritual depth of Christ Truth, may find it. The sooner the better!

  10. Ute: Great comment! I couldn't agree more! We have to do more thinking,now, so that we can really see the underlying spiritual reality rather than over-concern about numbers of members in our churches. It even says in II Corinthians, Chapter 10: "Do ye look on things after the outward appearance?"..(v.7).."For we dare not compare ourselves with some that commend themselves...measuring themselves by themselves. and comparing themselves among themselves are not wise." (v.12) Either something is true or it isn't! If true, it's really time to pay attention to it...

  11. This is probably the most important question that Christian Scientists can ask, and to avoid, as this response does, the impact that animal magnetism has had on the movement is too seriously neglect the root cause of the church's diminishing membership. Until a better understanding of it's modus operandi is addressed forthrightly and understood and handled through prayer, the greater will be the peril of our movement since more effective and
    instantaneous healing is needed. This is not a new phenomenon. Ralph Wagers CSB in an address to the Benevolent Association in 1971 addresses this very problem. More instruction in this vain is needed.

  12. I still hear (former Director) Clayton Bion Craig's voice saying: Somebody asked me: How can I help the movement to grow? I said: You grow!

  13. The Church Alive Summits, the creative thinking coming out of TMC, examples of renewal and revitalization from the field, sparkling articles and blogs, ecumenical and interfaith connections, all point to the restarting of "bonfires of activity" within individuals and among groups gathered together in Christ's name. These activities are helping to dispel the conventionality that has had a deadening effect on our movement. The questions I'm asking myself are: how am I going to participate in this bonfire igniting, what part can I play in keeping the embers alive, how can I do what our Leader suggests in this citation from Christian Healing (p. 15): "The Lord’s Prayer, understood in its spiritual sense, and given its spiritual version, can never be repeated too often for the benefit of all who, having ears, hear and understand."
    There is "sufficient occupation" "...within the wide channels of The Mother Church" (Man. p.44) if our hearts burn within us to love and bless "all whom (our) thoughts rest upon" (MY p.210).

  14. Thank you to Ute, John D., & Lin. Your comments really resonated with me. I'd like to share an excerpt from the new "We Knew MBE, Expanded Edition, Vol. II," page 111. In Lida Fitzpatrick's account Mrs. Eddy is stated as saying, "The true Science-divine Science-will be lost sight of again unless we arouse ourselves. This demonstrating to make matter build up is not Science. The building up of churches, the writings of articles, and the speaking in public is the old way of building up a cause. The way I brought the Cause into sight was through healing; and now these other things would come in and hide it, just as was done in the time of Jesus. Now this Cause must be saved, and I pray God to be spared for this work. (I have always stood for God alone.) Now you see what we have to do for the world-be a transparency for Spirit. We must show the difference between the healing of CS and quackery. Healing is demonstration, nothing else is." It is healing only that will build this church back up. Think of how many elderly folks stand up on Wed.nights and say how grateful they are because their parents were brought into CS because of a major healing in the family and then the whole family joined the church. We do need more workers in the field, but I deeply grateful to all who dedicate their lives to CS. Much love to all! I pray and know we can prosper!

  15. So many powerful ideas shared! Thank you everyone. Comment #6 really resonates with me.

    I know I need to do my part. The last few years I've focused on consecrated prayer/study working to APPLY these truths in experience. I've also focused on diligently facing down aggressive lies, theologies, medical beliefs that would kill the expression of Christ if they could. I am learning evil can only destroy itself. It can never even know good. I remind myself there is only One God, one kind of man, one creation. The church becomes huge when ALL are part of the kingdom. I sincerely strive to avoid an "us" and "them" attitude. It is a joy to learn from others, my brothers and sisters in the universe of Spirit. The only way the churches will be full is by seeing everyone encompassed within the light, ALREADY God's offspring in God's universal church.

    Jesus loved the multitudes and saw them as beloved creations of God. This is why they followed him. He did not say, learn all these truths, and then you can follow me. He said, follow me because you are already the truth. No cliques. All equal in God's eye. Healed.

    I've said this before, but, I am always asking myself what the young thinker sees and experiences when stepping into a Christian Science church service. Hopefully, clear, uplifting, healing truths that belong to them. Certainly, peace and a sense of homecoming. Yes, warmth and unutterable love. But, they also should sense the ever-appearing sparkle of creation, new and fresh each moment. They should relate to the atmosphere in spiritual, moral, and human ways and come away feeling blessed by coming to "their" church. Church is foremost RELEVANT to the age we live in, the most RELEVANT tool for helping humanity on the planet.

    At one point we moved and started attending a different branch church. Our son,10 or so, had his baseball cap on. Our whole family was happy to be coming. The last thing on my thought was his hat. After the service a member came up, did not even greet him, just took off his hat while telling him not to wear it in church. Being a kind-hearted fellow he just smiled. But, yikes! This is just a small example of the need to do better as church members.

    This branch church actually has a wonderful love for children, young adults and youthful thinkers, all mankind. Sunday School students often play music for our services and much love is expressed by all. We enjoy modern popular music and classical. We have marvelous testimonies of healing from all walks of life/age every Wednesday. There is much joy and little stuffiness. We do try to honor everything in the Manual. And we are growing:)

    Christian Science causes the most natural state of existence - a happy, wholesome, inclusive, expansive, "real" state, where it is normal to love God's law and thrilling to be a part of ever appearing good. No limitations in God - none at all! Divine Science, The Holy Ghost, relates exactly to and magnifies the individuality of each one of us.

    We do need more workers to bow at the feet of others, look up into their Christly faces, and wash their feet. People experience a 'homing' instinct as they awaken to the amazing love God has given. They come home to the truth of their being, strongly supported by The Christian Science Church.

  16. Dear Friends,

    Thanks to Richard for his comment. That was the first thing I thought of, too.
    In regard to Mr. Wagers,(my grandmother's Teacher), he told us that in his
    research he found that Christian Scientists were "substituting the lesser
    for the greater" in their lives. -- Science and Health, p. 167:32 "substituting
    good words for a good life..." and '01, p. 2:11 "fair seeming for right being..."

    Can we go along with (accept the belief of) news reports of decline and
    expect our Cause to prosper? No. We must accept our role as healers,
    do-ers of the Word, and deny the false premise of life in matter.

    When a First Reader of The Mother Church was asked, "Do we need
    more practitioners?" His reply was, "We need more obedience."

    With love to all,
    Susan Alexander

  17. I appreciate John Daniels #6. One of the things he says is "Christ has to come down to earth".

    Yes!

    John also says, " the disappearance of CS churches is a warning sign that should be heeded...."

    I agree. If we need a correction in our course, all the idealistic claims in the world will not accomplish it.

    I think that a majority of the responses above are largely hyper-ethereal, or denial, and are avoiding discovering why our churches are nearing the end of consistent downward trend. I know the answer but I don't think this audience really wants to know. If you do, ask the people who have tried coming to CS worships and don't come back, or who gave up. The answer is not hard to find if you really care about people's needs.

  18. We need more healing. My CS teacher said if there was enough healing in CS churches, then the churches would have so many attendees that the churches would have to hire a traffic cop.

    Here are some quotes from the Bible. Notice that they state that Jesus and his followers healed, and multitudes followed them.

    Matthew 4:24 And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them. 4:25 And there followed him great multitudes of people ...

    Matthew 15:30 And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus' feet; and he healed them:

    Matthew 19:1 And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judaea beyond Jordan; 19:2 And great multitudes followed him; and he healed them there.

    Matthew 20:29 And as they departed from Jericho, a great multitude followed him.

    Mark 3:7 ... Jesus withdrew himself with his disciples to the sea: and a great multitude from Galilee followed him, and from Judaea, 3:8 And from Jerusalem, and from Idumaea, and from beyond Jordan; and they about Tyre and Sidon, a great multitude, when they had heard what great things he did, came unto him.

    Luke 5:12 And it came to pass, when he was in a certain city, behold a man full of leprosy: who seeing Jesus fell on his face, and besought him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. 5:13 And he put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will: be thou clean. And immediately the leprosy departed from him. ... 5:15 But so much the more went there a fame abroad of him: and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by him of their infirmities.

    Luke 6:17 And he came down with them, and stood in the plain, and the company of his disciples, and a great multitude of people out of all Judaea and Jerusalem, and from the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon, which came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases; 6:18 And they that were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed.

    John 6:2 ... a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased.

    Acts 2:41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. ... 2:43 ... and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. ... And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

    Acts 5:12 And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; ... 5:14 And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.) 5:15 Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them. 5:16 There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one.

    II Corinthians 12:12 Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.

    And of course from this week’s lesson:
    Acts 8:5 .. Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. 8:6 And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.

  19. Inquiry is good. This question and these answers prompts another answer for me. Because Eddy states: "Error will be no longer used in stating truth." (SH:126:2) it feels nearer right to stop seeing so much need for thinking/doing/talking and rather to discover what already is true, the way things really are. We really do know that it is not the science of becoming that could be of any value. Each & every heart is already in the right place; the heart is already alive to the Science of Being. This one thing I know.

  20. Over the past 50 years, people's expectations of church have changed, and we have not. Most people do not learn from the "sit and listen while I read to you" style that we employ. Teachers and schools do not use this style any more and neither should we. We learn with all of our senses, not just by hearing. Our services can be more exciting and still follow the manual People these days want engaging dialogue, visual aids, hands on learning, upbeat music and to be able to relax and be comfortable in church. Most of our churches are very formal feeling and, quite frankly, the service is boring. Our wonderful message is hidden in a service that puts people to sleep.

  21. Does the community your church serves know the address of your church and the times of the Wednesday testimony meeting and the Sunday School and worship service? People read classified ads .

  22. I find it rewarding to go line with the Mother Church, along with their Wednesday Services.
    I do attend sometimes regular church services and Wednesday evenings. So I send donation checks to the Mother Church and I am wondering that persons like me add to the membership of Christian Science?

  23. Thank you, a question we all need to heed. My church: long discussions of what color to paint the walls and how will that blend with that 'old' carpet; testimonies--all about 'me', 'I'---safetly on my vacation to Europe, the wonderful purchase of my new home; and on loving our fellow church members, well, if that Chairman would only, or the Clerk or the Reader, oh, why will they not listen to me? After all, when I was Chairman, Clerk, Reader things were done my way.

    What my church is not: ministering to the poor and needy knocking at the door; praying for peace in the world, working to become a Journal listed practitioner--or if they are doing these things then they are not sharing them on Wednesday nights.

    Results in my church: membeship falling, SS very small, weekly contrubuions not covering the budget. But judgements still come from those who know the answers and they do not hesitate to share their proper solutions.

    Thanks, Bill, Ute, John Daniels, Lin and The Mother Church for embracing new ideas to 'wake us up'.

    My thoughts: We need to dig into Eddy's writings--all of them, the quote above from Misc Writings is very powerful; what does Eddy say about church buildings, what does she say about progress. Yes, we all love CS it is the cherished gift that Eddy gave to the world. Study, ponder the books--then go and do as Christ commanded and as Eddy amplified.

  24. Excellent idea to ask those who have left the church and the younger generations who have dropped out, especially Prin grads, why they did so. Any corporate or organizational endeavor that has declined roughly 90% in the past 50 years should have started asking some serious questions years ago. We haven't done so, apparently. And it's no good to cast blame...even on those old standby's the carnal mind or animal magnetism. There are plenty of experienced CS's who can shed some honest light, even in the church publications if that were solicited and encouraged. Some answers might be over-all embarrassing to the movement, some might be out in left field, but at least having an honest dialogue---whatever toes it might step on---is better than watching a disheartening and continuing march over the cliff. We MUST look at MBE's definition of church and see how it applies to each of us individually and then each church group collectively. Are we authentic representatives of MBE's idea of church? The areas wherein we are authentic, we should accentuate. And the areas wherein we are not authentic, we should discuss in new formats (like Sunday School classes, but for adult members instead?) And one last point: isn't being in denial of the huge problem with our movement a subtle yet highly effective form of animal magnetism?

  25. Friend of the Seekers #17:
    I really would like to know why you think people are leaving!
    Once they leave and we never see them again, it's hard to know why. And might it not be for a host of different reasons? I hope you will weigh in again with further thoughts on this subject.

  26. Thank you Karen #20 for speaking the truth.

    A true story:

    I visited my CS relatives in a big city. There is a big CS church, and now big Unity Church side by side. The Unity Church has upbeat praise music with piano, guitars and drums, "music of an appropriate religions nature" (MBE) FOR THIS CENTURY, prayer, verbal offerings of thanksgiving, introduction and blessing of guests, followed by a great metaphysical sermon. The Unity church has a packed Sunday School program, and the kids sing to the church.

    The Unity Church has two overflow meetings and full parking lots for both services.

    The CS church only has about 8 cars in the parking lot, and a huge building with empty seats.

    My family, raised CS, goes to the Unity Church.

    The Unity Church is meeting the people's needs of the community. The CS church is meeting the needs of ten older long-time scientists who enjoy a structured formal experience, and won't budge an inch. The CS worship is a museum of an antiquated form of worship from an earlier century, with ten people showing us how thousands of people used to worship.

    I hope nobody writes in that the Unity Church is making concessions to people's carnality, and that the CS church is of a higher spiritual caliber. I see it as the other way around. It is Divine Love that meets the human need. By their fruits you shall know them.

  27. I appreciate your comments, Karen (#20) Important observations. Many of us "life-long" students of CS are very accustomed to our traditions and love our services, but we're stuck there... and not genuinely ready to see the perspective of visitors and seekers. We need to express more practical, powerful love and appreciation. Merely doing things the way they have been done for decades (because we cant either think of more warm, creative, mindful ways, or dont want to bother, or we just think they HAVE to stay the same) does not express infinite Mind and "its infinite manifestation"...The "old-school" format of our services does not usually appeal to the wider population in our communities. At our branch we have been adding more up-to-date features such as power-point slides for the notices, contemporary music, Readers who sit instead of stand, speak and read naturally instead of "on stage' and much more active welcoming. We also are participating in a variety of community and interfaith events(homeless shelter, etc.) -- to put our love in action-- bless those we stand with...and share the healing Christ everywhere. Not just wait for folks to come. We are listening for fresh ideas all the time.
    Yes- we need more healing. But we need to love our fellow man first, which heals as a result-- heals US, our churches, and our neighbor.

  28. The 50-years after Mrs. Eddy’s death brought 2 world wars, a civil rights movement, and the advent of a technology that collapsed time and space. Moreover, language has changed immensely.

    Maybe fifty years ago, if church members would have followed Mrs. Eddy’s example, rather than repeated her words, churches and practices wouldn’t be so empty and void today. "Science and Health" would have been revised and modern versions of the Bible would have been incorporated.
    “Many readings” and “requisite revisions” prepare the soil for the seed. (Science and Health page 361) Rather than argue over words, a respect for words, correct to the intellect of today, is welcoming and inspiring.

    Also, it’s silly that the churches of Christ, Scientists insist on taking Mrs. Eddy’s decisions of yester-century out of context. For example, Mrs. Eddy selected the 26 subjects for Sunday Bible Lessons for that moment, not for eternity. Necromancy is not a relevant topic whereas relationships, careers, ethics and science, family are.

    This discussion could go on and the more views the better. Thanks.

  29. If people feel that it is important to stick tightly to the manual, and they enjoy the church services just as they are, that is OK. But they need to be honest that these church services have largely not been acceptable to the last few generations. They need to be honest that church attendance is diminishing across the nation. If that is worth it for you, OK. But you can’t have it both ways, because it hasn’t been working for over half a century. Let’s not pretend that there are only “rumors” or “seemingly claims” of diminishing attendance. Denial of a need never filled the need. The truth is that the worships are not meeting the needs of recent generations and they are causing our denomination to disappear.

    Denominations that have faced the generation gap are thriving. Those who follow Luther, Calvin or Joseph Smith have had to make some adjustments as the decades advance. Those adjustments have been hard on the older generations, who saw their leader as having the final voice of God about everything on earth, but they allow advancement so that their faith could be passed on to their children and grandchildren.

    If you have children or grandchildren who are not attending the CS church, (which honestly is usually the case) ask them why? Your answer and your response will either open a place for them in the CS movement, or it will continue to exclude them.

    Some people suggest that if the Divine Love expressed by the members, the spirituality, or the healing was higher, that people would come. If you think about it for a moment, that is telling people that they aren’t expressing enough love, or they aren’t being spiritual enough. I don’t think that is fair, because CS people are the most loving people on the earth, and I don’t think church could get any more ethereal or non-human. I think the form of the services is what needs an infusion of life.

    Are traditionalists worshipping the “form” of the faith, or the “spirit” of the faith? I read words of people who stick tightly to the form, and then call new ideas that are working for other churches concessions to “carnal mind”. It hurts to hear fresh ideas condemned as “carnal”, but I accept that everyone has the right to voice their opinion. But I think those traditionalists should be asked, “who is being “carnal” if you worship a dying form?”

    Some suggest that if we healed more, the people would come. I don’t think that physical healing is the most important thing to most people. I believe that most people seek churches who’s worships are constructed to make people feel noticed and loved. The human heart is more important. Christian Scientists are very loving people, but our fear of “human personality” causes us to tone down and inhibit how we express love on Sunday morning. If you don’t think we are inhibited, try visiting any full church.

    It is not serving God, Jesus nor Mary Baker Eddy to pretend that what we have been doing for over a century is going to turn around and start working again. What people need from a church in the last few generations has changed. CS will either provide it, or disappear with other sects that did not keep up with the times.

    You asked why the church is declining. Most of the responses came from members who like things the way they have always been. There have been a few brave responses from younger people who either stopped coming to CS church, or who speak for their friends or relatives who don’t come. So now you have heard from the majority who don’t find the worship services worth their time. Now you know, as if you didn’t already. Is anybody going to do anything about it, or just watch the continuation of the present course?

  30. 25 Brenda from Michigan requested that I explain why people do not return, and asks for me to offer solutions. I did share some ideas in my following comments, and others have contributed a landslide of ideas today.

    For a few a quick ideas: Participation of children in the worship hour. More music. More types of singing. Not all high brow, or none. Todays gospel songs. Duets, coral groups, family presentations. More instruments. More joyous and believable welcomes. Blessings on visitors. Prayers from the hearts of real people. Less reading.

    Most people find most CS services to be unnecessarily formal, unbearably stiff, uncomfortably rigid and unfeeling; scrubbed of human pleasure or sensory enjoyment. One practitioner I know calls most church services "sensory deprivation chambers". Did Jesus spend 100% of his time being metaphysical? Scrubbed of any pleasure in being human? No!

    Others have reported that most people do not like to be read to for an hour. As someone wrote, it puts people to sleep. That's what it does to me also, no matter how good they read. I can listen to that at home. I go to church to feel shared worship with other people.

    There are CS churches that are growing that read the lesson sermons, but they have found a hundred ways to warm things up so people can feel embraced and enjoy the worships.

    Visit any growing church and you will see what people are attracted to. You may find that they wear summer shorts or swim clothes to church so the family can go right to a picnic or the lake afterwards, and attending church in formal attire does not kill their weekend fun. Or the whole church may have a picnic! Or the young may float the river in inner tubes, and invite their neighbors!

  31. PS. Amen to Cheryl Peterson #28 who says, "Necromancy is not a relevant topic whereas relationships, careers, ethics and science, family are."

    I invited a friend to CS church the day the lesson was, "Ancient and modern necromancy alias mesmerism and hypnotism denounced". He said, "You guys are really weird! No wonder they call you a cult!"
    You know, I never did figure out what those words were supposed to mean. How about some 21st Century topics?

  32. 29 squarely addresses the issue: even though there are a few CS people in a few places making bold efforts to adapt to new realities in the human church sphere, the majority and the formal leadership appear to be complacent. It's easy enough to allow discussion on a website like this but will take a new level of courage and leadership to open honest dialogue in official publications that reach most students of CS. Will it require loss of virtually all formal CS churches/societies in North America and Europe to allow a rebirth of this Science in a new format?

  33. Famous LAST words for any church:

    "We've always done it this way."

  34. There is a place for unselfish and unselfed love in church. Unselfishness graciously adapts to and reaches out to meet the human condition. The ways and means are secondary to love. It doesn't get out of shape if we sing from the Supplement, or have a duet for the music, or have a gently jazzy prelude or rambunctious Bach prelude and fugue, or paint the ceiling purple with sparklers, or sing 5 hymns. One Wednesday the Reader went back and forth from the Bible to the Science and Health several times. Awesome! Freshly written compositions by young adults have been sung. Readers have worn all sorts of clothes from formal to capris and slip-ons. A man came one Wed. fresh out of prison and gave a moving testimony filled with tears. He was so overcame he tried to leave but the members coaxed him to stay and the service changed to addressing his needs, with members expressing so much love. In all these instances unselfed Love is still going on. Unselfed love feeds man with God's message which always transforms the human thought toward more goodness. Unselfed Love and unselfish love are not separate. They are God and His individualized expression of love in the human experience - in every kind of human experience.

    Young adults shared many healings over the years in my Sunday School classes. One, while babysitting, healed a baby who couldn't get their breath. Another healed a friend allergic to bees who was stung by a bee on a hike and had forgotten their medication. There were many physical and other healings shared. They will not forget those. My own kids experienced over and over, when struggling with something, the instant help they felt and experienced by turning to truths in the Bible and Science and Health. They will never forget those moments. I remember in grade school being healed overnight of a hurtful terrible cough. The holy harmony I felt the next day I will never forget. And many such healings have followed over the years.

    I've seen Christian Science churches change dramatically in opening of thought to more unselfish tolerance in the last decade. For example, our grown daughter stopped by recently on a hot July day in her short shorts. She stayed for dinner and then decided to go with us to church. For a moment she wondered if she should come because of her attire, but we told her for heaven sakes, COME! She smiled as she was greeted by the usher, a dear friend who often wears a suit jacket to church, standing there in his shorts. We then experienced unselfed love as we were fed by the Word of God and heard amazing testimonies.

    I don't think we should blame loss of attendees on not having a cool enough service. But, neither do i think we should be afraid of adapting so we relate to this age. Neither do I think we should underestimate people. Why can't we sit still for one hour and listen to God? That is a perplexing question to me. Do we need entertainment every second of our lives - texting, TV, facebook, games, joking around, playing, etc.? (And I enjoy all those things, too.) Specifically, why can't our kids sit still for one hour and listen? That, to me, is a huge question. More important than why aren't more coming to church. I want to address the issues trying to rob them, and mankind, of their peace of mind and divine right to feel the holiness of God.

    We can't be naive. We could change the church service into a circus and there would still be the aggressive beliefs of the day to face down. Would a peppy entertaining service do more to heal cancer, loneliness, corruption, drug addiction, etc.? When we DO make the genuine effort to silence and reverse error, a higher Truth than ever seen before will be experienced at each step. This has happened to me and mine. The still holy presence of God felt after true healings is the pearl of great price. Why would we want anything less than this?

    So lets not tear our churches apart. My kids are tired of hearing of members near and far picking at each other. And, lets not be afraid to express life and creativity either. And, lets really not be afraid to address head on the issues that seem to be attacking our youth - we all know what they are. I wanted to teach my kids to live in God's world, to be strong enough to rely on Truth to support them in God's creation. I didn't want them to feel like they had to run away from the world because they could not cope. Church helps them be strong. They know it is there for them.. Church is huge, everywhere, all-inclusive.

  35. There have been beautiful thoughts contributed today.

    I want CS to survive. This is the most important topic to me. That is why I have jumped in so much this week.

    I am looking at a picture that I cut out of National Geographic Magazine about 50 years ago. It was a story about a Shaker religious colony that was once teeming with young families. The picture is of two very old women, the only ones left. As a young man I saw that this was the direction that CS was headed if we continued to insist on maintaining the form of worship they used a century ago. And so I spent my whole life trying to help the church evolve it's form so it would thrive and continue for my grandchildren. But the church has largely stuck with it's old form.

    I'm sorry to say that I have seen CS churches dwindled down until there were only a few older ladies left, just like my picture, and then close. The CS church I grew-up in is closed now, while the population of the town is about 40 times bigger. No one wanted to come to the CS church, not even the children raised in it, because the form of worship is so stiff and devoid of things that warm people's hearts today.

    I believe that CS has something to give the world and I am sorry for all the churches I have seen close down in my life. Do we have imprison CS in a century old package? I want the content of CS to continue in a CS worship service on Sunday mornings, but I want the form to keep growing, and not for the outdated form of worship to be CS's grave clothes.

    I know it's hard for people to make changes. It is a struggle with all churches. The way we grew up worshipping can feel very close to our hearts and we don't want to change a thing about it. Many Catholics loved the services in Latin. But many more increasingly found it not relevant. The Catholics saw people leaving and switched to speaking in English instead of Latin. This change was difficult for many people, who said it lost it's sacredness and divine authority. But it had to be done.

    A hundred years ago they did not know that they should have made streets wider for new cars, or to put more parking places in towns. They did not know that they should have made lots bigger for houses because buildings would expand. They didn't know how things would change. Mrs. Eddy did not know that religious music would change, that a new generation would prefer guitars over an organ, or that Kings English would become difficult for people. Christians surveyed today say that the thing that helps them most experience the presence of God in a service, is the participation of children in the worship. Mrs. Eddy did not have that information back then.

    I am hoping that we can keep the content of CS, and let our form evolve to serve today's people, like every other surviving church has decided to do. We can. Some are doing it. We heard many good ideas this week that are working for many. We have to say, "Content, yes! Protect it. Form? Stop worshipping it. Stop making an idol out of it. Keep evolving and meet the human need."

    I might mention that many growing denominations dedicate part of their worship to just listening to God in total silence. Part in joyous praise. And part in listening to the message. Everything is beautifully orchestrated and transitioned into. Jesus wasn't totally cerebral and contemplative. Yes, he went into the wilderness to listen to God. But he was also passionate and affectionate. And he liked parties, celebrations and parades! These churches are seeking to find a balance.

    I request that when people refer to the new worship ideas that do not interest them, that they do not make derogatory references to them by calling them "entertainment", a "circus" or "carnal senses". If you think that a "higher truth" can only be reached in a more quiet, more cerebral or less emotional worship experience, just state your preference. But please lets not be sarcastic about the people who connect with God and with each other in warmer, more expressive ways. God reaches different people in different ways. And, yes, joyous praise can heal! I just saw it happen last night.

    We already discussed "formal vs casual", and learned that not being formal did not necessarily mean being casual. Maybe we could discuss "CONTENT vs. FORM". Is content bound to a certain form? Must content be delivered to the world in only one kind of tightly regulated package?

  36. I'd like to raise a toast to The Mother Church. When it comes to "freshness," I think Boston has the last word. Today there are more ways than ever to participate and benefit from all that Mary Baker Eddy has left us.

    Consider that in recent years we have seen the birth of online sites like tmcyouth (now time4thinkers), jsh-online.com with its article archives, lectures, and hundreds of podcasts for downloading, the popular Daily Lift, a hymnal Supplement (and another one in the way, I believe). And the youth summits, which occur world-wide. There are probably other activities I’m omitting. These are all “entertaining” options, in my view, which bolster and support the Church’s primary mission: healing.

    The Mother Church is clearly listening to its members, reaching out, trying to find new ways to engage both young people and long-time members. Has anyone noticed how many times the appearance and size of the periodicals have changed? Cost-savings have certainly been an impetus; but they’ve also been motivated, from what I’ve read, by the desire to improve the reading experience, to make it more lively, more clear, more enjoyable. (All this change once bothered me – I wanted the CSPS to leave the Quarterly the same size, stop fussing with typefaces and graphics, etc. Then I began to appreciate the motivation and began to admire this yearning to make things better. And, in most cases, I’ve concluded that the changes have indeed been for the better.)

    A friend of mine who’s aware of the Christian Science Church’s online activities is almost envious, and wishes her own mainstream Protestant church (that she never attends) had more to offer in the way of daily inspiration, online lectures, and chats and articles. Thanks to these resources she is now studying Christian Science.

    I think our branch churches can learn from what’s going on in Boston. From these Church Alive communications I gather that many branch churches are looking at things in a new way, without deviating from The Manual. That may affect real estate decisions, Sunday School, meeting styles and frequency, décor, etc.

    A word about our services. I recently completely a 6-year stint teaching in the Sunday School, where I was also Superintendent. I loved every minute, but had almost forgotten what a soloist was. Now back in the congregation, I cannot convey in words how meaningful the service is - how it meets my needs, as is. After a busy week with a busy family, I cherish the opportunity to sit - quietly - and listen to the words of our pastor. That is all I want. I don't want to be entertained. I want to hear what I consider to be the Truth, because it regenerates and heals me, and is the purest form of Christianity and Science I know. I am never bored because the Readers are reading from my two favorite books. If I want religious entertainment I can go online to YouTube to listen to gospel or to sacred music or to classic hymns. The list goes on. But when I’m at my branch church it’s all about the pastor. That’s what sets Christian Science apart. Maybe I am different but as the mother of two children I don’t think I’m that out of touch (I cannot afford to be!) and I hope – and believe – that there are others out there like me.

    I’m not dismissing many of the good ideas already mentioned in the comments above. More healing, more love, more freshness. All wonderful. But I do think we need to acknowledge the good that is already going on, and spend our days spiritualizing thought, considering what Church really is, and who we truly are. That will inspire and bring about any needed adjustments. “Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need.”

  37. The problem the Church is facing I believe is found in this statement:-

    SH 82:31-83:2     In a world of sin and sensuality hastening to a greater development of power, it is wise earnestly to consider whether it is the human mind or the divine Mind which is influencing one.

    I was baffled why are we warned about the human mind and not depraved mortal mind? And just what is the human mind? Only when I learned something of the divine Mind's influence which is the Christ which is the manifestation of divine wisdom, then I begin to learn that the human mind is human wisdom. To the human mind, reason is it most active faculty as the stated in Science and Health, whereas the Christ, the divine influence is the manifestation of the activity of the divine Mind. As it is human wisdom it do not come as a threat, and we will mistaken it for divine wisdom if we are ignorance of the divine influence that is the Christ. So when we heed the statement in Science and Health, “The time for thinkers has come” (SH vii: 13) without taking into consideration the next statement “Truth, independent of doctrines and time-honored systems, knocks at the portal of humanity” (SH vii: 15), then the thinking is most likely human thinking not guided by the divine influence, that knocks at one consciousness and end up with correct statements of Science but devoid of the Christ-spirit. And when not build on Christ, the rock, as Jesus warned, it cannot stand against the adversary, human wisdom.

    And with the Christ actuating our thought, then our church services will be alive, and the readings will be with authority as when Jesus read from the text of Isaiah.

  38. I expected more out of this discussion. Not only are fewer people attending CS churches, but fewer people subscribe to our literature, fewer people are Christian Scientists, particularly people under age 70, and fewer people know what CS is. The truth is that church attendance is declining, the number of churches is declining, and our movement is declining.

    We heard from people like myself who think that the CS worship services feel too stiff and uncomfortably formal for them. And we heard from more who like them just as they are. (I am happy for them.)

    We heard from people who told us that they don't come to church to be "entertained". I might mention that next to a few remaining old style Quaker meeting, the CS services are the least passionate of all the denominations, and the rest of the Christian world do not feel that they are being "entertained". They feel that it they are experiencing God's presence just as much as we do.

    Many churches call their worship "Spirit driven". They sense and follow the Holy Spirit, and have as many healings as we do. This is not "entertainment".

    Yes, church attendance across America is declining somewhat, but we are among the denominations declining the most. And some are growing. Almost every town in America has a church that seemingly came out of nowhere in the last ten years that has half the Christians in town attending, especially young people with families. In my low income little rural town of less than 2,000 people, they built a huge sanctuary and paid it off of totally for over a million dollars in just a few years.

    I had hoped that the question would be addressed more than it was. Why CS worships are not attracting people, rather than just talking about what we loyal Christian Scientists like or don't like for ourselves. Does anybody consider it an important discussion to consider why our movement, the "Second Coming of Christ" is declining?

    What would it take to create a growing movement? Can we do it? Or would we consider that a concession? And if we are unwilling to do what it would take to grow, we should admit it, rather than talking around it? I don't think we really faced this issue.

    The world is full of people seeking God and seeking healing. Our church services are our main contact with the public. We have great literature, and the Mother Church is doing a great job. But we cannot put all our hopes in literature bringing in people. Christianity is spread most through personal contact and community fellowship.

    Do we have a vision of our churches being filled with people of all ages? Or are we letting CS disappear with our generation, and we are pretending that this is not happening? How is our plan working, faithful servants?

  39. Downsides and Upsides
    The downside of Jesus' ministry was that he left behind no authoritative written statement of his teachings so that we would have an accurate frame of reference against which to measure our own thoughts and actions as individuals and organizations. As a result, Christianity has ended up with several thousand tons of doctrine and dogma based on clerical interpretations that have splintered modern Christianity into hundreds of intellectually closed societies. To most folks who haven't studied or applied it, the CS revelation is just one more interpretation, less understandable than most.

    The upside of Jesus' ministry was that he didn't feel constrained to reading to his followers from an authenticated Christian document but kept his metaphysics mostly to himself or his immediate followers and related his teachings and example to currently understandable workaday logic (e.g. parables), using his profound knowledge of the Bible as the divine background for his metaphysical conclusions. By relating his acts of spiritual power to what he taught, it became apparent that what he taught was true, and that what is true does indeed make free. Without the example of his works (and documented teaching) what he taught would have (and did, as his works became re-identified as miracles that only God could perform) an influential but ineffective philosophy.

    The upside of the CS ministry is that there is an authoritative written teaching against which we can measure our own thoughts and actions and which can be protected and preserved unchanged for future generations. The logic of MBE's design for church services, although not documented as such, seems clear: each Lesson-Sermon is the broad outline for daily prayer to equip the CS student (there are no extant graduate CSs) to unite on the Sabbath (the day of resting one's case) to jointly pray for the many truths covered in the Lesson to take effect in the surrounding community and the world. That this has produced results is indisputable if unacknowledged. While some of the subjects specified by MBE are not relevant to current awareness (e.g. necromancy), it is a common source of wonder and gratitude for many CSs how the Lesson-Sermon for a given week intuitively addresses (regardless of subject) many of the current problems facing the world at that point in time.

    The downside of the CS ministry is that CSs become inured to Lesson-logic, after reading it during the week, and, forgetting that they are in church to pray (not just to listen) find their attention wandering and their thoughts drifting in other directions. While we might condemn this inattention, it is a problem, and as many above have suggested we can and should do something about it (maybe learn from Jesus' practice).

    In addition to having a Manual style service for the members (it could be much abbreviated with a bit of thought) we could have an informal public discussion by the members and visitors of the truths discussed in the Lesson and their relevance to community and national/world problems. Many long-time CSs have aired the need for such discussions for their own benefit as well as for the public, and supplemented by more appropriate music and hymns might even be an enjoyable and wakening experience. We certainly need to waken ourselves up to what we're here for!

  40. Thank you John Daniels #39 for you realistic and healthy "Upsides and downsides" approach. The truth is that there are advantages and disadvantages to anything we do.

    Thank you for caring that we reach out with CS beyond our own groups. Thank you for offering good ideas, and for pointing to Jesus as a successful model of how to reach the common man.

  41. The Christian Science Church cannot fail because it is the universal mouthpiece of absolute Truth, a Truth filling all space and time, the only Creator and Lawmaker. We need to clearly realize this. I would rather be in a calculus class of 10 with a professor teaching correct math than in a class of 1000 being taught incorrectly. I would rather hear pure, strong, divine reality in church than hear wishy-washy, humanistic half truths. I would rather experience a calm focus while being filled with nourishing Truth than be too distracted. That being said, I DO want to see the churches full and overflowing!!!

    Truth can speak in a multitude of human conditions. It could be through joyous invigorated song, praising testimonies, unconventional services, vibrant Wednesdays, friendly engaging Readers, out-of-the box new ideas, etc. The main point to me is that the Truth is not diluted or changed. Also, in this age of constant over-activity, it seems important to preserve and nurture that state of thought that can silence the human turmoil. Communing quietly with pure Truth helps us do this. "Could ye not watch with me one hour?" Christ Jesus.

    Deep, quiet spiritual sense that drinks in the Christ packs a punch in human life. It expands and enlivens life, it does not dull or bring boredom to life. It brings powerful newness and progress to a church family. It does not allow church to be rigidly old-fashioned or disappear.

    I think the churches are emptier for four reasons:
    1. We only want the loaves and fishes without the discipline of spiritual growth and prayer.
    2. We are not handling the old theological and tyrannical medical beliefs of the age
    3. We do not love one another enough, sometimes being too picky, dominating, comparative, or unkind
    4..We think we own the truth and others should come to us, instead of realizing all mankind has it, too

    I need to keep working on all those. Problems are solved through knowing God better. So, I'm in a state of great hope. All of the above can be healed. We are already doing many many things correctly. There IS much sincere growth going on amidst our workers. There are those who ARE handling effectively the beliefs of the day. There IS tremendous love in the movement. And, I see us outgrowing a sense of "fundamentalist" Christian Science. Truth pouring into thought silences all lies and assures wonderful progress.

    I totally agree with #36, Jocelyn Palmer. Thank you for sharing those great healing thoughts of gratitude. I, also, am grateful for what The Mother Church has done and is doing. And, I cherish those fortifying quiet moments in church. The readings only last for 30 minutes or so. Yet I feel the blessing all week. Our world certainly has the blessings of The Christian Science Church at its fingertips. God loves every one of us so much. .

  42. Jesus did leave us the Sermon on the Mount, a sermon that Jesus said is the rock to build on. How can a sermon be a rock to build on? The answer can be infer from Jesus teachings about earthly treasures that can be stolen and corruptible which aptly describe the materially tangible, thus Paul said the seen are temporal, and also Jesus said that heavenly treasures cannot be stolen and incorruptible and is therefore eternal or enduring or that abides forever in the heart thus Paul said the unseen are eternal. As God is Spirit, the heavenly treasures are then the things of the spirit of God and they are spiritually discerned as said Paul. It is spiritually discerning the things of the spirit of God that are eternal that enable us to demonstrate spiritual dominion over the seen that are temporal. And how to have this spiritual discernment? This is where the Sermon of the Mount come in. For in imbibing the spirit of the sermon, thought are spiritualized or aligned with God, Spirit, and the eternal substance of Spirit will become tangible as the Rock, Christ, the divine influence, that will write upon our heart to produce the fruit of the Spirit that constitute that spiritual quickening or spiritual aliveness of being born again of the Spirit, the awakening of the inward/new man or as said Mrs Eddy, the real man. And this spiritual aliveness of the presence of the Christ, the divine influence, is the spiritual sense or Soul-sense. It is through spiritual sense that God guides us, thus God is the Teacher as was promised in Jeremiah prophecy of the new covenant that will be written inwardly and all will be taught of God. It is why Jesus told Nicodemus to be born again of the Spirit in order to see the kingdom of God - to be able to spiritually discern the operation of the divine Science, the Word of God, since divine Science being the Holy Spirit/Ghost is the atmosphere of divine intelligence - the intelligence that is the omni-Science, omnipresence, and omnipotence of God. That is why Mrs Eddy said the Sermon on the Mount is sufficient for Christian practice (Message for 1901 pg. 11:16) and the essence of divine Science (SH 271:22-25). The Be-atitudes of the sermon is the standard Jesus had set for us to measure our life. As such the Bible, and Science and Health are adequate as the Pastor to preach the Word to impart that spiritual sense thus no personal sense need to be involved, and also because Eddy discovered divine Science in the Bible through the illumination of spiritual sense. But as the Bible said “Be still, and know that I am God.” And with inward stillness anchored by Christ, then we will be able to keep abreast of the times without being swarm by the tides of change in the eras of human change. TMC I believe is striving to keep abreast of the times in this information era being still a material based human progression as other eras with it promises and pitfalls. And the web forums on christianscience.com and time4thinkers and jshonline are some the means for neophyte or babe in Christ to help to wean them from sense to Soul. As for the genre of music and mean of worship, the one question is are they leading us from sense to Soul?

    During Jesus ministry, he healed multitudes and taught them in parables but in private he only explained the parables to his immediate disciples, for out of the multitudes he had healed, how many became his immediate disciples? And how many were at the cross?

  43. Either CS is a lovely religion, who’s founder’s words are well worth studying.

    Or else CS is the full and final revelation of Christ on earth. The latter is how I believed most of my life. It was easy because we had healings. I had healings. And every town had a CS church filled with families and people my age.

    The Bible tells how glorious and earth-changing Jesus’ Second coming will be! It will be so obvious that no one will miss it! I’m struggling to connect that with the diminishing interest in CS today, and these discussions aren’t really resolving it for me. Many people are content to worship with a few truth seekers. There is nothing wrong with that. But isn't CS supposed to be the Second Coming of Christ, and isn’t that supposed to be expansive?

    What are we?

    Other churches are content to be the “Bride of Christ”, side-by-side with other denominations, preparing for Christ’s return. But we say that our religion IS the return of Christ.

    Our leader, a woman born almost 200 years ago, in New Hampshire in 1821, and her Mind Science, are supposed to be the Second and final Coming of Christ. After all, she was foreseen in the Book of Revelation at the end of the age. This is a very big claim. Other church leaders have made this claim. But only one can be right, if indeed Christ has returned.

    CS has had over a century to prove its claim. For seven decades I have watched the CS movement declining, and my piers from Principia leaving it. I am unable to reconcile that CS is the final expression of Christ on earth, with Christian Scientists being content with the shrinking church today. And so I ask with a confused but sincere heart, “Did we try to claim too much?”

    Perhaps CS isn’t the Second Coming of Christ. Perhaps it isn’t even the spearhead of the Second Coming. Perhaps it is only part of it – a significant part of it.

    It seems like most people who write in say that “true church” is spiritual, always vibrant and growing, and not to look to the material senses for statistics nor human measurements of attendance.

    Don’t look at human evidence? Really?

    The absolute doesn’t need any help; it will always be absolute. But don’t Christianity and Christ come to earth to make something happen here? Isn’t it important to God that something happens here? Doesn’t God want a growing movement like on the Day of Pentecost? [Discussed at the Annual Meeting 3 years ago.] Doesn't earth need help and a helper?

    Are we putting into action the absolute ideals that we insist on focusing on? Or do we think if we just name it, it will be? Is CS bringing the Kingdom come on earth? If CS is Christ’s main force, or Christ itself, why aren’t many people noticing or joining?

    I spent most of my life living like Christian Science is the total and final revelation of Christ on earth for all time - the Second Coming of Christ. I cannot reconcile that with a shrinking movement. My heart is struggling to find peace with this discrepancy.

    Either Mrs. Eddy over-stated her importance in world history. Or else we have not understood her priorities on how to make CS grow. Take your pick. It’s one or the other. The truth shared correctly will not decline. I chose to believe that we have something to give the world. But we have been losing more ground than we’ve been gaining. That’s not God’s plan. We must either rethink what we believe, or what we are doing.

  44. One time when I was Reading Room Librarian there was a lull in people coming in. After serving a whole day I went to the back room and vowed I would not leave until this lull was healed. After some moments of the most heartfelt prayer for the Movement, a woman came in and studied for over an hour. The mesmerism was destroyed and we were back to a regular daily flow of visitors and customers.

    Whatever comes to us to do humanly (I totally support staying up to date, being creative and vigorous, singing our hearts out, buying a bus and picking up Sunday School children, etc), there will always be the need for deep, still individual communion with God and progressive spiritual growth. It seems we need to realize more clearly the balance of the human and spiritual. In reality, this is because there is only ONE creation. We are not trying to get to creation, we are in it now. The useful and good human expression, when viewed correctly, IS spiritual. Because of Mrs. Eddy's revelation we know so much. We KNOW there is only one creation. And what does it look like? The Bible tells us - happy, free of tears, pure, peace-filled, fields ripe for harvest, overflowing with abundance. We can claim this right now. It is our divine right. So, I'm coming away from these great blogs with the feeling we can DO this. Clear communion with God results in normal individualized expression, which includes a happy, full expanding church. Let's claim it, know it, stick with it, pray diligently, be open to change, and experience the harvest! Live in the light. Magnify every expression of good on this earth as God's Church Universal and Triumphant. How were the loaves and fishes multiplied?

  45. I'd like to add my opinion.
    I totally agree with the sentiments expressed that the Church is dwindling. I would go as far to say that the reason this is happening is because some members are totally ambiguous to the demise of numbers attending church. It is a state of denial of facts, you can sugar coat it all you want.
    I agree the church is not the building but the people attending it, we must make an effort to reach out to people who have no idea what Christian Science is and most probably have never heard of it.
    If you ask the average person what Christian Science is they will answer you that it's either a Christian belief in the same manner as trinitarian Christianity or it's something to do with scientology or else it's a bunch of scientists who just happen to be Christian. Would you attend a church if you had no idea what it was about?
    Christian Science has to take its message to the streets, we cannot become just another cyber church. And we can no longer have the attitude of ignoring bad things that affect people and society. The usual catchcry of "Let's not focus on the negative..." is something you expect to be told by a scientologist, again it adds to confusion about what and who we are.

  46. What about innovations in our services? What can we do? What works best? For starters, I'd like to suggest that those interested listen to Sunday/Wednesday services at C.S. Society, San Juan Capistrano in California. Their services are webcast on the Internet. If you haven't heard it before, it may be a shock to some. The Society is also deeply involved in their community.

  47. Think about what was happening 50 years ago, really 60 now. The churches were full and growing in the 1950's. Two big things came along around that time: birth control pills and the sexual revolution PLUS television in every home. By 1955, half of all homes had television. The "pill" was approved by the FDA in 1957. We are tackling new presentations of the old problems of sensualism and mesmerism. These things need to be handled metaphysically, and "nothing unworthy of perpetuity should be transmitted to children." (Science and Health, page 61)

  48. I have a question to "Friend of the Seeker" who says he/she attends the Unity church instead....if the concern is with CS dwindling then why leave? Your ideas could be the balance between old thinking and new.

    The way I see it, the church next door who has lots of people attending vs the CS church who has few...."They must not only seek, but strive, to enter the narrow path of Life, for “wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat.”

    And when we think of Jesus' crucifixion, how many people stayed to honor Jesus?..... Four, out of all the multitude.

    I am a new seeker, who was brought up in CS and left while a teenager. Yes, I didn't feel that it was fun enough, it wasn't cool, I didn't understand the words. The difference now for me is that I truly want to understand, the world doesn't have the answers (I've tried to find them), and I approach my study in a different way now. I study as it's being revealed to me and if I don't understand the words, I don't just barrel on just to get it done, I go back over the words until I do understand. This method has opened up a new, fresh approach to studying and understanding.

    The church I was attending has closed down, and the one I attend now is farther away with little attendance, but I believe there is no alternative but to keep going. That little church needs my loyalty.

    I recently attended a Church Alive summit and WOW, there were close to 600 people with lots of vibrancy! My gratitude goes out to all who made that happen.

  49. I am a member of a small but growing Christian Science Society. The healing that has taken place and has laid the foundation for this growth is so important to share.

    Years of conservatism and conflicting opinions tried to derail our little Society but persistent prayer, spiritual growth, love of members, and love of Christian Science has taken us through the gauntlet.

    I can now honestly say that we truly love each other, appreciate the special gifts of each individual, and TRUST each other.

    Trust was a huge factor in this healing. The point where individuals trusted the workers-When the readers could experiment and express their unique style in their own ways and be loved for it- this made all the difference.

    People have began to come, join the Church, because they FEEL the love and the power of Christ at work. It is an amazing feeling to pray for the congregation during the Lord's Prayer and FEEL the power of Christ, Truth feeding each of us in just the perfect way.

    We are discovering a purer meaning of Church and trusting each other and the result is healing.

    I have experienced so many of the comments and concerns mentioned in the above accounts but am happy to say that it is possible to move past them.

    Our small membership has actually given us the ability to do so many things without many personal opinions getting in the way- it has opened a new chapter for this church and created the fresh space for building an expression of church just right for today.

    The dear ones of the past did their building of churches that was just right in their time. Today we are doing our own building... but it is not the same kind of building- but it just right for OUR time.

    What a joy to make it through the gauntlet of despair and disillusion and find an infinite church ready for expressing today.

    Thank you for putting out the harder questions for us to wrestle with.

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