Saturday, November 27, 2010
Sunday Brunch or Sunday Worship
She and her 31 year old husband and baby found they were celebs – like Jessica Simpson – amid the sea of gray hair flowing from the pews and the empty nursery. They were overwhelmed with emails, letters, phone calls, and visits to tell them they were welcome and they had come to the right place. They were regaled with calendars of activities – a Bible study on the politics of the Iraqi War, volleyball on Wednesdays, yoga on Thursdays, a health food coop on Fridays, and a Super Bowl Party with your favorite snacks.
In the end she said they felt like she was being rushed by a nerdy sorority. After spending years more comfortable with brunch than religion, she was inundated with things profoundly unreligious. She was confused.
She had grown up without religion. Her parents were anti-religious and raised their children with out benefit of even Christmas nor Easter worship, without Sunday school or even a prayer at meal times. Her husband was a lapsed Baptist and his return to the pew was certainly easier than hers. But she was still confused.
She followed the same outline with a number of visits from a number of different clergy. The big question for her were the theological requirements to belonging. She put it bluntly, “What is the absolute minimum I can believe and still belong.” The most she got were three items. Both her husband and the pastors look at her expectantly. They were all thrilled to tell me how little I would need to believe and how easy it would be to belong.
Many in her generation are beginning to check out Church – after years of being away from Church or never having been at all. They are looking to give up their lazy Sunday mornings for hymns and sermons because they want their children to have a moral compass, because they want them to know a benevolent and loving God, because they want them to be anchored amid the storms of change and challenge in life – they want them to be spiritually literate even if they choose not to believe for themselves. But instead they are being told that Church is easy, that beliefs are minimal (optional), and that their lives really don’t need to change all that much.
This woman asked out loud, “If I am going to give up my old Sunday morning sleeping in, eating late, and lazily perusing the Sunday paper, it better be because of something more important and imperative than a religion where faith is optional. It better be because of life and truth.”
It is too easy to join a Church? Maybe we do spend too much time making Church accessible for people. Maybe we do not expect enough of those who join (who have sat in the pews for ages!). If Church is not worth much in terms of faith or life, why bother at all? If all Church means is that the brunch will have to follow a service of optional prayer, belief, and devotion, why would anyone join.
Those who come looking are here because they want/need something profound and life changing. They may not know it yet, but what draws them is the prospect of believing the unbelievable and shifting a whole life around because of such a faith. They want a truth that does not change with every wind of trend and fad. They expect they will have to give up some things. They know they will have to learn many things. So don’t try to hook them by telling them Church is easy and faith is easy. That is a lie – or at least it is a fraud compared to the faith of Jesus!
Why do we offer new people a cheap and easy faith that returns very little to them – when we could offer them Jesus and the life-changing experience of grace! It is something to think about!