To some of you this might read a bit like a rant.
During this season of life at my church the senior pastor has been put on administrative leave while a team from our denomination can make some decisions as a 3rd party. This has left a major hole in our teaching schedule, because the senior pastor typically taught 75% of the time.
I’ve had numerous conversations (in person and over email, overheard similar conversations, and seen them on Facebook as well) about how attendance will go down because the senior pastor won’t be preaching. Or people just downright saying they wouldn’t be at church because so and so was teaching. My first thought was initially, “well that sucks.” Typically if attendance goes down, so does giving, and well, my job is anything but secure these days. But then my thinking went another direction, hence this post being written.
Let me first say, that when choosing a church I believe you should absolutely go to a place where the teaching/preaching resonates with you. Part of this decision involves critiquing church and specifically the teaching, as difficult as that might be. You might choose to belong to a church where the teaching doesn’t reach you, but I do think that should be a part of your decision-making.
The church, the Body of Christ, is made up of large families or communities that gather based on location, theology, emphasis, and sometimes style. People today switch churches much like they switch coffee shops. And as I’ve learned over the past month, people often skip out on being with their church family because their favorite pastor isn’t teaching that day.
When you make a choice to become a member or regular attender/servant of a church, you are choosing to join a family. Being a part of a family means you make sacrifices for the good of the family. Being a part of a family means your way is almost never the only way. Being a part of a family means you choose to love your brothers and sisters even when they are unlovable to you. Being a part of a family means you gather at the dinner table no matter how bad the meal is.
This is what comes to mind when I think about people staying home or going somewhere else because their favorite pastor isn’t teaching. It isn’t the selfishness the bugs me (although that’s a sin as much as anything else), it’s that we’ve missed what being a part of a church family means.
What are we teaching our children by making all our church decisions based on our own preferences? Well sadly they begin to view church as no different than Starbucks. If their drink isn’t made to perfection, they’ll just go to the next Starbucks down the road.
Is that really what church is all about?
If we’re choosing to make our church attendance decisions over who is teaching, maybe we need to take a hard look at if we’re really a part of the family or not.
(Photo: Karen Hawthorne)