2020-04-13 Protect Me, Please!

“Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.”
Psalm 119:105

It was a rare thing to physically go to church this Easter Sunday. I think this is something we are going to see more and more of. I think this coronavirus stuff will significantly impact the way we do church as a nation. As it is, we have suddenly had to change the way we do things: people aren’t able to go to church. Oh, sure there are a few defiant churches out there who refuse to comply with stay at home orders; but for the most part, everyone is obeying.

I think this will have a lasting impact on church attendance. The longer this goes on, the smaller will be the crowds when they come back. Many people will realize they don’t need church as much as they thought. The fair-weather attendees will drop out altogether. Many of the regulars will find that they can be fed just fine by worshiping at home.

Oh, sure, there are churches that have particularly talented speakers who will keep many coming, but most churches don’t. People are discovering that the best of the best have televised sermons they can watch from anywhere or at any time. Truly, one doesn’t need to see a preaching pastor in person to be fed. We’re finding that out firsthand.

We had some interesting comments at our home church (via Zoom) yesterday. Let me prep this by sharing this passage:

Luke 10:38-42 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Now, who of us haven’t experienced the pressure to volunteer from some “important” ministry? We’re busy, busy, busy with parking, greeting, coffee, cookies, daycare, choir, ushering, collections, communion, youth programs, bible studies, etc., etc., etc. Who hasn’t felt like they have been dumped on with the responsibility to do something when no one else seems to care? Oh, then let’s throw in the occasional potluck, and we’ll quickly find out who contributes and who doesn’t!

But that’s just the way we do things. All these things are important. Right? No, I don’t think so. Think about it. We think we need so many of these things to make people feel welcomed. Does it take a smiling person to open the door and another smiling person to put a bulletin in your hand to make you feel like they want you there? I think many of these ministries are for more crowd-control than anything. They serve to efficiently move people into their seats so they can observe a performance, no different than if you go to a stage performance of “Peter Pan.”

Look, if a sense of welcome and fellowship were really important, wouldn’t people come early and stay late? As it is people race through the doors between five minutes before and five minutes after the service starts. And, like reacting to a starting line pistol, they clear out in a blink of an eye. No, it seems to me that other things are more important. If people are really interested in fellowship, why aren’t the churches full an hour or more before AND after the service? Think about that.

How about we talk about money for a minute. Churches for sure are feeling the pinch as their revenue dries up. What does that tell you? It tells you that the church, like society as a whole, is woefully unprepared for downward adjustments to income. Throw in a shock to the system, and you suddenly have a catastrophe. So, what happens? We start banging the tin cup and start pressuring those who are already doing most of the heavy financial lifting. Look, only a small handful of people tithe in good times. Enough said. We have no reserves. Why? Because our overhead is so high, we never can get a contingency established.

Let’s face it, we would rather eat out than make meals at home. The same is true for church. We would rather hire preachers to entertain us with their speaking skills. We would rather pay for professional musicians to fill the room with sound so we don’t have to listen to the voices God gave to each of us. We would rather hire pastors for this and for that so we don’t have to care for those in hospitals or nursing homes or teach our own families and children about Jesus and his bible. We simply don’t want this responsibility.

It’s amazing what your money can do to build the kingdom when you don’t have your tithe instantly burned up by church overhead! If you see someone in need, you help them. It’s as simple as that.

Now, all this requires that we step up our game. We need to become spiritual leaders. Here’s one thing we don’t need in a church – a prayer room. Nobody ever uses it. Not like we should. Besides, aren’t we supposed to be a congregation of prayer? Why aren’t we spending as much time on prayer as we do in singing or preaching? Yet we bemoan the affairs of our nation and world but we won’t spend any time in prayer. Hmmm.

Honestly, I hope church never goes back to normal.

Father, protect me from the rocks that some people are thinking about throwing at me. Amen.

Copyright © 2020 Scott Powers

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