A few years ago [this could be anywhere from one to three years ago, meaning I don’t remember exactly], the Sunday before the Christmas, I overheard some regular attenders talking to one another before the service started. It went something like this:
Man 1: Oh. This week is Christmas. That means there’s the Christmas Eve service.
Man 2: Great. That means we have to come to church three times in close succession.
Man 1: It’s really annoying.
Man 2: Yes it is.
This mindset is prevalent pretty much every Sunday. A few weeks ago, right after the service ended and people were still in line to leave the sanctuary [because hardly anyone socializes afterward], someone turned off the lights. There were still people in the sanctuary. I’m all for saving money by turning off lights that aren’t needed to be lit, but there were still people in the sanctuary. I was one of them, because I like to talk to people right after the service ends [if I can, if they haven’t hurried off] and before Sunday school begins. [By the way, I really enjoy Sunday school.]
There’s also a mindset of “make the service be as short as possible.” For some people it’s because there’s a sports game [or a NASCAR race] on the television a few hours after church [but they can’t miss the pre-game festivities], for others it’s because they need to get to one of the town’s two restaurants before the Nazarenes get there, and for the rest . . . I don’t know. It’s like they’ve done their time, and now they can get back to “normal” life, or something. [I don’t want you to think I go to a horrible church. There are people who attend this church who don’t have that mind-set. Churches are made of people, who are prone to make mistakes. I am one of the greatest offenders. It just bothers me, is all, this “get out as fast as possible” thing.]
In my opinion, this is the point of church: To equip people to become better disciples of Jesus, to keep people accountable for their actions, to offer God-centered support through all of life’s ups and downs, to give encouragement . . . [If I’m missing something, let me know.]
But maybe my hopes are just too … hopeful. Maybe my expectations are too high: to think that people come to church, not out of a sense of duty, but out of a love of God, a desire to be closer to Him, a desire to have a better relationship with Him, and a desire to be more like Him.
Mom told me, “If you’re going to be a pastor, you’d better get used to people not wanting to be in church.”
I told her, “I don’t ever want to get used to that.”
Please understand, I’m not saying one has to go to church to find God or even understand God. In my experience, though, I find it helps me to re-center my life on Him to spend an hour [or so] each Sunday in worship with other people. And after I’ve re-centered my life on God, I find it easier to talk to people about my faith, and I find I’m more effective.
Thoughts? Comments? Have I scared you all away?