Ashburton Guardian Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit. FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 1914. ADVERTISING THE CHURCH
The Church is recognising more', clearly year by year that if it is-to hold its place, as a force in the life of the people it will have to adopt itself to the changes that are taking place in man's thoughts and habits and customs. There cannot, of course, be anything in the form of competition for patronage; but the altered conditions of life demand on the part of the Church a closer study of those essentials that are lacking in its message to mankind at the present day.. The increased love of luxury and amusement has created h craving for excitement that is not to be found within the "cloistered walls" of the Church; the unchanging forms and.ritual do not now appeal io the people even as they did 20 years ago. The poet who preferred "50 years, of Europe to a cycle of Cathay" voiced i modern sentiment, pandered to by, the glare and glitter of' moving pictures, the hustling of motor-cars, and all the transient pleasures that the world has made its own. The Church.is therefore face-to-face with the fact that it is in danger of losing its grip on human problems. One of the signs of this is the increasing disinclination to attend church, and it is ' proving more difficult to solve, as it is becoming more pronounced, as time goes on. Some of the churches are facing the task of solving it by making the services brighter 'by strengthening the choir and by sermons almost wholly confined to social subjects. But it has been reserved for America to meet the spirit of the'age more than halfway by introducing commercial methods of attracting congregations. This is' achieved by instituting a " Go-to-church Sunday," and in editorially discussing the subject the "Presbyterian Examiner " says:." Every Sunday should be a Go-to-church Sunday, of course, but unfortunately there are many church members who have fallen into the habit of making Stay-at-home Sundays, Automobiling Sundays,-] and Outing' or Visiting Sundays more frequent in the calendar than the Sundays that they occupy their pews in the house of worship. This, then, is the remedy proposed. The leaders in our churches have long been striving to"reform this condition, which is almost as large a problem as the problem of how to get the man who does not belong to 'the church to attend its services. Someone conceived the idea of the Go-to-church Sunday, last summer, and the movement started to stir up an entire city, to. attend church upon a. ■, certain day. From the Middle. West this-plan has gone into- many parts" of'the country, and even, staid, conservative ISTew England has u taken it iup, and there has been a round of 1 Go-to-church Sundays in several cities and towns. In "eaoU. of the towns where the plan.is tried, the ministers of; the various Protesitant. denominations have joined |in an advertising campaign, directed by a committee, and [upon the street-cars, upon the 1 bill-boards, . and in the newspapers appear the calls for everybody in the city and surrounding towns to go to church in the church of their choice upon the 'Sunday designated. ISTewspapers, ! also, publish reasons why people* 1 'should go-to church." More or less personal work is done, and in some towns the school children have boen drafted to carry home land distribute cards urging observance of the day. The plan has certainly succeeded in swelling the numbers in the congregations, often to twice the average, and. it is remarked that the inspiration and enthusiasm of those who attend is remarkable. Of course, this scheme dissipates the Church's claim that it is an institution, based solely upon voluntary support—that its message is strong enough to appeal to mankind without the aid of a showman with a big drum. But there
is no escape from the fact that it is a world.emerging to a new outlook that" has to be catered for, and if the cymbal and the drum are necessary for its delectation there does not seem to be any option for -the Church but to utilise them.