Yesterday, I read in the church council minutes that Bethany will be ordering fewer copies of The Lutheran in the future because there isn't enough demand in the congregation to justify our current order size. I found the timing ironic because the latest issue includes an article on how to reach people through a "multichannel church." (You can read the whole article here.) Reading about and staying current with issues in the broader ELCA community represents one of those multiple channels through which the church can touch our lives.
The overall thrust of the article is that Sunday-centric churches will continue to struggle in the future. Churches need to reach out in as many ways as possible, and encourage participation through multiple channels. Of course, music is one way that you can be a part of the church service - that means choir rehearsal on Wednesday night or playing an instrument as well as just confidently joining in during the hymns on Sunday morning.
Bethany has plenty of other ways to participate as well - Bethel Bible study is just one high profile example this year. Of course, I also think this blog and the web in general are important ways that the church can increase its profile and participation. Sunday is actually the day with the lowest web traffic here, so I know it's a way for some people to stay involved outside the traditional service.
This issue and the discussion about it are so important for the ongoing health of any congregation and the church as a whole. The website for The Lutheran has plenty of discussion forums on this and many other topics. (Among the issues I saw discussed there - how are pastors and staff supposed to keep up with even more interactions and forums for participation? Certainly that is just one question we need to explore.) Any thoughts or experiences you have on how to increase participation?