If you’re keeping score now, it’s officially three Sundays since I closed my church. We worked hard for 5 years, but never could seem to bring in enough to sustain it. It was time to move on, so I released my people to look for a new church home on Easter Sunday.
Since then, I’ve been attending local churches to try and learn something before I move on to another pastorate myself. But I’ve tried to keep mum when it comes to telling my former members where to attend church now. I wanted just to leave it to them and not get involved…
Until this week.
I was talking with the husband of a former member. He only darkened the door of our church once, although he’s a personal friend of mine. He’s running from God, arrogant and pushes people away. He needs Jesus so bad, and I think he even knows it. But he won’t budge. Finally two days ago, he said to me:
“So will you just please tell my wife where she should go to church? I appreciate you trying not to be a cult leader and control their lives, but it’s really bothering her. So…just tell her, ok?”
Later, his wife walks into the room.
“Can you please just tell me what’s a good church for me to check out? I’m getting really frustrated visiting and getting nothing out of it.”
She then goes on to describe the pastor she heard on Easter Sunday.
“He seemed nervous, almost as if he had a social neurosis of some kind. He fidgeted so much and talked so fast, it made me almost break out in hives. Then the next week the college pastor preached. But he was so nonchalant, it was as if he were just reading stuff off his iPad for us”
I can understand my friend’s frustration. I’ve visited three worship services since we closed, and so far have had only one good experience. And as a pastor, that really frustrates me.
Why is it so hard for so many of us to do church well?
Sure, I know our job is difficult. But seriously, you had all week to work toward this one moment where we all come together.
YOU HAD ONE JOB – make church not suck – and you couldn’t even pull that off?
The guy I saw this weekend just made me mad. I truly believe he spent more time shopping for his wardrobe than preparing his sermon. He was all hip looking, with his long white t-shirt sagging down almost to his knees (my wife even cracked a joke: “What a lovely blouse!”). What he lacked in preparation, he made up for in faux-passion.
“I’m stoked for Jesus, yo! Are you hearin’ me, Church?”
Yo, bruh. Hey, didn’t you used to sell those ShamWow things on TV?
I talked to another former member on Friday. She’s a young woman in her 30s, who’s employed in the Arts community here. She studied drama in NYC, directs and is an awesome actress. And she never went to church before coming to mine. Her and her husband became Christians and were baptized in my little church.
“I went one place, Pastor, but we were in and out in one hour!”
Yes, I said. Most people like that in a church.
“But what’s the point in going to the trouble of going to church if they’re just gonna go ‘wham bam, thank you ma’am’ and shove you out the door? I needed something to help me through my week!
But I was always afraid my sermons, each running 40 minutes at least, were too long.
“But it never seemed like 40 minutes, Pastor. You made it relate to our lives, you made it fun, you made it matter!”
Wow. She was actually upset church was too short. She wanted to hear God’s Word and have it change her. This from someone who didn’t grow up in church.
Thank you God, for making me feel better about what I accomplished in my little, now-deceased church.
Now that I have blatantly bragged and patted myself on the back until I’ve got a shoulder cramp, could I ask you pastors to do something?
Please… do your best. Every single Sunday.
Here I am, a guy visiting your church. I’ve got a church-full of people asking me where to go, and now I’m finally ready to tell them. Except I’ve only found one good option so far out of several I’ve visited and heard reports from.
What if I were sitting in your service this Sunday, or my people were? Would they be treated well, or would they be ignored and not greeted? That’s what my female church member told me about the church she visited last Sunday.
“No one said a word to us. You would have thought we were invisible.”
Would they get a sermon with enough of God’s Word to change their lives? Would it be prepared enough so that it communicates clearly to them?
I hope so. Because every Sunday you preach, someone may be out there who desperately needs to find a good church home. He may not be able to serve you up a whole new congregation of people, like I could have. But he/she would definitely join, if you’d just give them something worthwhile.
Or else, you could just keep spending your time shopping for your trendy wardrobe.
It’s your choice, “bruh”. Yo…