An interesting set of comments which move us along nicely; many thanks for your engagement.
You bring an interesting perspective as a convert from Roman Catholicism.
Yes, it is tempting to agree that numbers don't matter; and yet they do in the sense that so many need bringing to Christ. Even the early Apostles were dealing with a society saturated with religion, and, in their own cases, one where a highly liturgical form of worship was practiced and to which people were used. In the US, as Rick knows, many entrants into the OC are converts from other denominations; here, oddly enough, we have a real opportunity to reach the unchurched. And was it not St. Paul who made himself all things to all men so that he could appeal to the widest audience.
We must never forget that the Church is not ours; the faith must be preached to all. There is a danger in taking the: 'this has worked for centuries in Egypt/Greece/Russia approach'. In the first place it is by no means clear it continues to work in Greece and Russia; in the second we know that there are other and shorter forms of liturgy, and they existed, and exist, for a reason.
Not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to spend two hours each way driving to Church and then spend three hours at the service; if we assume we live in a society where this is the case then we are wrong; and if we say that people can take it or leave it, then they'll leave it, not necessarily because they are not committed, but because they have other commitments. If we are saying that our members have to be up to doing what we do now the way we do it, we shall attract only those with the leisure to do it; the blessed Apostles did not make the yoke too much for the Gentiles, despite the wishes of the 'men from James'; as ever, we can learn from the best evangelists the world has ever known.
It isn't about quick popularity; it is about the need to meet people where they are, I suspect.
Being profoundly unmusical in practice, I am sympathetic to what you say about music; the noise I make could only be described as singing by someone as tone-deaf as myself. As my old music master used to say: 'he joins in with great gusto' :oops:
Unlike our American friends, we are dealing with a society where, especially amongst the younger generation, there is a profound ignorance about the faith. Most schools hardly teach Christianity save as part of a multi-faith experience; RC schools are among the few honourable exceptions I know.
Most of my students simply do not know the first thing about Christianity; most of them are 'searching' for what they call 'spirituality' and many think they will find it in 'the East'. When I tell them that our Faith is the ultimate Eastern religion they look startled; most of them think it started in Rome or Canterbury.
In Egypt, Pope Shenouda long ago said that a Church without a youth has no future, and that a youth without a Church also had no future; what he said is profoundly true, and, of course, the Sunday school movement in the COC is the result. How we convince our youth that their spiritual longings can be met within the Church will, at least in part, determine what sort of future the BOC has.
In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10)