The Richmond Outreach Center Thrives as Number of Churchgoers Declines

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Although the number of churchgoers typically decreases in the hot summer months, many churches are reporting a significant drop in overall membership. Despite these struggles, the Richmond Outreach Center notes that active worship is the secret to keeping church pews full.

During summer months, churches typically restructure their worship services to maintain a solid number of worshippers. Despite these efforts, a recent article from The Times Herald reports that pastors all across America are experiencing a drastic decline in churchgoers, even during other seasons. While the reasons for this drop may be varied and rooted deep in societal issues, some believe that keeping a church community active is one surefire way to maintain membership. The Richmond Outreach Center is one Christian congregation located in Virginia that has not only kept its church pews occupied, but has also increased membership through its volunteer efforts and community outreach programs.

According to the article, “Preachers get frustrated. They work up a soul-winning sermon, only to preach it to a bunch of vacant pews.” The problems are not limited to a certain type of church or practice either, as Daniel J. Lehmann, editor of The Lutheran, states, “Thirty-five percent of Americans attended weekly worship in 1972. By 2008, the number stood at 26 percent. At the same time, those who never went to church grew from nine percent to 21 percent.” While the article correlates this decline to widespread social tensions in Americans, Pastor Geronimo Aguilar of the Richmond Outreach Center, chooses to see these numbers as an opportunity.

The Richmond Outreach Center works hard to spread the word of Jesus Christ to those who have either turned away from the church, or have yet to partake in the experience. However, soul-winning is only half the battle, as Aguilar notes that it takes an active community to keep church members involved. He states, “Pastors from other churches always ask how we get such a great response in terms of volunteers. I tell them all the time—Christianity is not a spectator sport! If you're going to just ‘warm the bench’ while we play the game, with all due respect, find a different church to take up space in!”

For preachers who are searching for ways to increase or sustain membership, Aguilar suggests that reinventing sermons can help churchgoers remain interested. Aguilar typically takes a modern approach, relating religious lessons to current events and speaking with a tone of excitement in his voice. He adds that asking active members to spread the Word of Christ can help better the lives of everyone, and even the activity within a church. He concludes, “God has called the Church to reach the lost and that is the very essence of everything we do at the Richmond Outreach Center.”


Founded in 2001, the Richmond Outreach Center has provided many Christian-based services to improve the community through health, education and spirituality. The organization has been credited for reducing crime in the Richmond area, as well as helping many needy families and homeless individuals who suffer from drug addiction, hunger and poor health. The Richmond Outreach Center strives to improve the lives of these people through genuine encouragement and passing on the values associated with the Christian faith.

For more information about the Richmond Outreach Center, visit

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Michael McGarety
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