Saturday, May 27, 2006

Why do we go to church?

This week I had breakfast with a pastor friend, and we had a very interesting discussion. It grew out a point of discouragement that he was experiencing because many of his church were disappearing on vacation. They were spending weeks away from church. He'd come from a poorer area where people could not afford to go away; now he is in a more affluent community and long weekends are the big escape.

I suggested that he gets used to it, doesn't try to fight it and that he learns to adapt to the culture where God has placed him.

"I understand that the suburban culture is different, but people should still be in church on Sunday!" It was the apparent apathy that was bothering him. "They just want to have God as an add on. 'I'll call you when I need you, but right now my family and I are going to get away for a while. See you when I get back.' " He was really bugged.

I laughed with him at the dilemma. It is true that the Victoria Day week-end (Memorial Day in the States) does begin the summer slide. Attendance, participation and offerings slide downward when the sun shines, until sometime after Labour Day. Usually about the third week in September, families begin to give thought to church again. It can be frustrating to plan events when several of our leaders have checked out for the summer.

I explained to my friend that I used to feel the same way, but have learned to work with the reality of life in the 21st century, rather than wistfully fighting for a return to the 50's. (When I was a boy we used to get badges for faithful attendance. If we never missed a Sunday that year we could add another bar to our badge. By the time I was 12, mine was getting pretty long. We simply never missed church or Sunday School, and if we were away, we had to get the Church we attended while on vacation, to sign a paper saying that we were there.

I'll come back to how I explained to my friend the changes that I made in my thinking.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent article! I'm a first time visitor. My email friend in Canada sent this to me in Arizona.
The article ended abruptly, saying that you'll explain the changes that you made to your thinking. Where can I read that? I need to adjust to changes in the world today, but I can't seem to accept them or don't know how. I long for the past when I was younger and full of energy and the world was a better place. If there is such a thing as reincarnation, I don't want to return to Earth.