Jibstay

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Church Refugees

They were leaving the church. The couple came in to the pastor and told him that they would no longer be attending the church where he served. He told me this with a sense of bewilderment. This had been an active and supporting couple, involved over the years in many significant areas of ministry. Their kids were grown and gone. They seemed happy and positive. Now they were leaving.
When he talked with them, they had no idea where they were going. They were not unhappy with his leadership or preaching. There was no theological, social or political issue the troubled them. Then they said something to him that caught my ear: "We want to just worship and not do anything." That nailed it.
Over many years of ministry in four different churches I know those friends. I've seen them show up at church, often during the first hymn (song-set). They sit near the back and leave during the last song. They have stories; some of them quite painful of being burned out in their former church. Some over the years were former staff persons. One person told me that when staff persons leave mega-churches, they don't go to other churches, they just stop going to church. True? I don't know. But it both telling and painful.
Some of the blame goes to the church system that so overloads people that when they think of church they think of another endless committee, cluttered process and continual demands for more. I can be guilty as a senior pastor of never being satisfied with where we are and who is here and always looking for what's next? But some of the problem is in a Christian culture that sees church and spirituality as a consumable, a product I purchase just for me.
Is it ever possible to just worship and not do anything? Do I ever dare think I can come into the presence of the Holy God and do nothing?

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