10 Ways To Kill Your Congregational Meeting!

I had a bit of fun with a similarly themed post a while back. You can find it here. It’s about how to ruin your small group. I thought I’d take the concept and run with it. I got Ed Drew to look at it. In familiar fashion he called me a ‘monkey’. And then he said that though he liked it, he thought that in one or two places I sounded bitter. I’m not. Honestly. I’m in really good heart at the moment; we’ve got loads to be thankful for at CCB. But it’s fair to say that these patterns of behaviour are somewhat trying for a church leader.

Anyway, to the matter in hand; how to kill your congregational meeting!

1. Start ‘weekending’: Go away lots at the weekend. Get out of London. You need a break. You’ve earned it. Don’t worry about getting back in time for church. Sure, it’ll mean you’re rarely around for two weeks in a row. You’ll lose consistency and coherence in the preaching programme. But there’ll be unexpected benefits. You won’t make any friendships that you don’t want to. And no one will be able to rely on you to do anything so you won’t need to appear on one of those tiresome rotas. Spiritually it won’t help you to be so infrequent and irregular at church but physically you’re bound to feel refreshed!

2. Pitch up late: Don’t worry about being on time. That’s so legalistic. The Bible doesn’t say punctuality is one of the fruit of the spirit. It’s a Sunday after all; everyone else is lazing around the house reading the Sunday papers or drifting in from watching the afternoon match at the pub. It’s a day or rest; not rush. So aim to arrive sometime during the first song. You won’t have missed anything important; just the general welcome and an opening prayer. The newcomers who pitch up early anxious that they’ll be late can fend for themselves! They didn’t really come to meet anyone anyway. They’ll pick up from our relaxed approach to life that this is a church strong on grace rather than works. And there’s the benefit of being able to scan the congregation and choose very carefully where to sit.

3. Sit on your own: Don’t sit near anyone else. They might engage you in conversation at the end of the meeting. And worse, you might feel obliged to do the same to them. Sit somewhere where you can avoid eye contact with others in the congregation. You’ve come to church to be anonymous. It’s about you and God, not about you and anyone else. You’re not there to make friends and encourage others. You’re there to focus on your relationship with God, aren’t you?

4. Let your mind wander. Don’t bother engaging with the sermon. It’s probably not worth using up valuable mental energy. If the guy doesn’t hold your attention the way that ‘The Wire’ does then you can’t be expected to listen attentively. You could take notes but you wouldn’t want to seem keen. There’s no need to think about what’s being said; you’ve come for private contemplation. The sermon is the chance to let your mind wander and to lose yourself in thought. I wouldn’t worry about encouraging the preacher with active listening that’ll inspire him to keep explaining and applying the Bible. He’s a professional. He’s been at it a while. He’s very aware of his own limitations and so he knows the score!

5. Switch off in the singing: Don’t look like you’re putting anything into it. Just look passive and disengaged. It’s music and if it doesn’t sound anything like your favourite band then there’s no compulsion on you to do anything other than to stand up and mouth the words so that you blend in with the crowd. Don’t worry about setting an example by pouring your heart and soul into the song. It’d be a trifle zealous to express your profound thankfulness to God for the Christian life, wouldn’t it? The enthusiasts can do that. You have another spiritual gift. The gift of lukewarmness! The musicians will be fine. They’re not really expecting anything. They have their expectations under control. To be honest they don’t mind putting in hours of preparation, turning up early to set up and practice, barely being able to concentrate on anything else during the meeting because they’re so anxious about getting things wrong and spoiling it for others and then packing it all away again at the end of the meeting.

6. Avoid spiritual reflection: As soon as the last words have been spoken and the musicians have filled that awkward silence with Christian ‘musak’, get up from where you’re sat and make a beeline for the door. The last thing you want to do is sit where you are, look over your sermon notes and then reflectively pray through what you’ve learnt.

7. Let newcomers fend for themselves: At the end of the formal meeting, don’t bother approaching those who look unfamiliar. They may not be. And how would you know; you’re never there and you wouldn’t want to make an excruciatingly embarrassing mistake. You don’t need to talk to them anyway. They can always look at the bookstall indefinitely! That’s why it’s there, isn’t it?

8. Keep it superficial. In the unfortunate event that you unavoidably found yourself in a conversation, keep it brief and light. Humorous pleasantries work well. All the time look over their shoulder for someone more interesting to talk to. You’ll appear popular, and fun, without ever having to be honest about your own life. In addition, you’ll not find out anything further about them, which is great because it’s always hard to remember tiresome details about other, less interesting people!

9. Make a quick exit. Don’t hang around just in case someone grabs you at the end. If it’s Sunday morning then the roast is in the oven. You’ve got friends coming over. If it’s Sunday evening you need to get back to iron your shirts. You’ve got work the following morning.

10. Shift from the sacred to the secular. As soon as you’ve left church, just get on with real life. I wouldn’t worry about bringing what you learned into your day to day existence. That could make things complicated in the workplace, or in your social life. There’s no need to worry about praying for your church family. Remember church is simply a ninety minute commitment once a week. That is, if you haven’t had a better offer!

31 thoughts on “10 Ways To Kill Your Congregational Meeting!

  1. Pete Matthew February 15, 2011 / 10:15 am

    It’s like number 7, but I would add “Just talk to your mates. You only see them on Sunday so you need to make the most of that time to catch up with them, it would be wrong to ignore them and focus on someone you didn’t know.”

    • theurbanpastor February 15, 2011 / 6:22 pm

      actually that’s better than seven
      thanks
      perks

  2. Tom Stanbury February 15, 2011 / 7:20 pm

    I will have been guilty of each one at some point or another.

    I agree with the sentiment behind each of the points. They are no doubt an accurate position of our hearts/behaviour but the list of 10 is not an inspiring read. As in not sure it inspires us to a greater worship of God, essentially that is what the points are about?

    • theurbanpastor February 15, 2011 / 7:29 pm

      Tom
      It’s meant to be ‘tongue in cheek’ no one’s as bad as this. At elast no one I know at CCB is! It’s meant to be a way of exposing our sinful logic and self righteous justification of sin; something that I’m very good at. And of bringing us face to face with the unintentional effects of our chooices. The motive has to be godly and Christ centred not religious rule keeping – and for an exposition of that listen to last Sunday morning’s sermon!!
      And just to be clear – no one at CCB was in the cross hairs for this one; it was dreamt up on the flight to Scotland to kill the 90 minutes in the air.
      All the best bro!
      perks

  3. Lauri February 15, 2011 / 7:37 pm

    I’m so glad about this news. I was going to suggest that one good way of killing the congregation is by meeting in a building in which the heating is inadequate, and when it does go on, distracts from the sermon. Or meeting in a building where the sanitation and the use of toilets is slightly better than a cess pool. So I am really glad that this was tongue in cheek. I am also so glad I will not have to post my prepared 3 point recommendation about how not to kill a monkey while making a man out of it. That would have made some heads turn… so glad.

  4. Phil C February 16, 2011 / 12:07 pm

    Does anyone really think in this way? It makes me a bit afraid that if I come a bit late to church, or sit by myself, everyone will assume I’m being lazy or inconsiderate or worse.

    Mostly it just kind of happens that I let my mind wander, or that I sit on my own, or that I end up chatting to a friend rather than a new person. Now of course that is something I need to address – we are called to act and think for the good and for others, rather than passively consuming. But I wonder if a positive approach, rather than a negative one, would be more helpful in this case. Less fun to write though.

    Having said all that, I think I might react more positively if it wasn’t written by my own pastor…

    • theurbanpastor February 16, 2011 / 12:25 pm

      No Phil, we don’t think that way. And that’s the point.
      Don’t we need to think about what our actions communicate to others and how they affect others? Sure, I could have written it positively (as I did the ‘how to ruin your small group’ posting a while back). But I wrote it in such a way that we’d explore what effect our occasionally self centred unthinking behaviour has on our church family. In that sense it works as a warning of what can happen when we don’t think and act with a gospel mindset. It’s not the only thing that could be said about congregational involveemnt, for sure. But it’s one thing that can be said, isn’t it?
      How strongly we react to what it says may be because
      1. we think it’s fundamentally unbiblical and false teaching winds us up
      2. we feel the force of the content and we reach for the self justifying self defence mechanisms
      3. we don’t like the manner with which it’s been presented and feel that the writer is abusing us
      For what it’s worth, I fully expect these patterns of behaviour to be present in every congregation until the return of Christ. And I want to run a church where these things are commonplace if it means that I’m part of a church family helping immature Christians grow in godliness.

  5. Phil C February 16, 2011 / 3:36 pm

    Thanks Perks. For me it’s both two and three, which makes it harder for me to think clearly about how best to act on your thoughts in this post.

    • theurbanpastor February 16, 2011 / 3:43 pm

      Do the right thing, in the right way and for the right reasons!
      And I’m not abusing you, in particular, but all of us as messed up Christians, in general. We do these things at times and we shouldn’t, should we. This post just gets under our skin in a way that positive exhortations might not. I’m surprised that one or two of you have responded so strongly to the style in which the substance is presented.
      Blessings bro!

  6. Lauri February 16, 2011 / 8:41 pm

    On the one hand this is such an unimportant 10 points that I am surprised that you took the time. Then again it is somewhat important, but doesn’t mention enough and is far too blunt. In my experience between the 10 points you mention there are at least another 10 that complicate them…

    On the other hand I think that enough sentiments tell you about what sort of reaction this negative form elicits, so I am reacting with the two issues in mind. First the stuff is unimportant and second the reaction to it has been strong.

    One way of killing your congregation is by posting stuff like this. There is nothing encouraging about it, it makes people resentful and actually has a strong affinity to bullying.

    You say you are abusing congregants in general, rather than Phil in particular? Can you please justify biblically why abuse should ever be ok?

    The above post is bullying more than correction and if there is something I hate it’s bullying, particularly if your ‘correction’ doesn’t include the reminder of grace. This is not a form of admonition which is healthy, or which I want for myself or my friends. It comes from a man with a position of authority over a sizable group of adults, but yet you have no authority to coerce. Remember that.

    This post and the one you posted previously about small groups are both paternalistic, and petty. The paternalism I will forgive as you are a father and might from time to time forget. The pettiness I think adds to Ed’s comment. You should take his comments more seriously. Form and freedom are important concepts. Keep them in mind. Push hard on important issues.

    This post is negative and uses sarcasm, and has a cynical outlook. As somebody in a position of power to significantly manipulate emotion you should hardly ever use them, and use them mostly if at all, in situations where you are commenting about your own leadership or failing.

    I would also add that mentioning only 3 reasons why people might react strongly to what you said, that its a way of controlling the discussion without letting other reasons into why some of us react strongly. That is a sign of the need for control when confronted. Do you really need to do that?

    Just for the avoidance of doubt. God commands me to love my neighbour as myself and to love the Lord my God and have no other Gods before him. Anything more is culture. Your project of growing a church is an interpretation of the first part of the above. Don’t add to the law in an unnecessary way.

  7. sarah s February 16, 2011 / 11:49 pm

    Interesting post. makes me remember why i decide to join the church. I joined as the church was friendly and welcoming and I’ve stayed for the community. So it’s good to see most of your comments are around the community feel to the church. So the key question is what stuctures and processes should a church have in place to have a strong and vibrant community? How will this help with individual choice about:
    a) coming regularly on a Sunday; and
    b) being an active member of service they attend.

    On a personal level I now struggle with meeting new people, partly now that the chruch is getting large and hard to meet new people, and trying to talk to the same people each week to allow you to go beyond the superfical. I wonder how Church stucture and process can make it easier.

    Also I struggle talking to new people as its one of the few times I get to see my friends and I feel the pressure that I should talk to lots of people rather than spend the time on one or two people and have the real good chat that you were recommending earlier. Realisticaly the end of a church service is probarbly not a suitable place. So how can we get that opportunity?

    Be great to see your solutions to the issues you raised above, the more creative the better.

    Sarah

  8. Lauri February 17, 2011 / 8:45 am

    Now for a bit of the positive from my part. Perks lead us into the presence of God. You do that from time to time. That is what Church is about. Keep doing that please.

  9. Murray February 17, 2011 / 9:55 am

    Refreshing and nice light sense of humour! Many thanks for the little jolt. If it weren’t so true, it wouldn’t get under so many people’s skin in the way it seems to have, I think.

  10. Jonathan February 17, 2011 / 10:01 am

    An alternative 11 ways to kill a congregation:
    1. Demand attendance every week as a sign of true faith. People shouldn’t have a weekend life unless it always involves church.
    2. Demand punctuality as another sign of true faith. If people can’t pitch up on time, then obviously they don’t care about God, and deserve to be glared at. Whatever their reason.
    3. Demand that people sit together in worship. After all, you’re there to make friends and encourage others, not to focus on your relationship with God.
    4. Failure to focus on the sermon is obviously another fault, irrespective of whether the sermon is or isn’t the dullest thing that you’re meant to pay attention to in your normal life.
    5. Enthusiastically singing is obviously Godly, no matter how you may be feeling internally, and no matter what you think of the tune or the words.
    6. Sitting silently after the service is obviously Godly. After all, you’re there to focus on your relationship with God, not make friends and encourage others.
    7. Don’t see church as a place to meet your friends. It’s a place to make new friends, not meet old friends.
    8. Keep it heavy. If you keep every conversation about God, you’ll appear super spiritual.
    9. Make sure the service finishes late, and that everyone’s expected to stay for coffee. Spiritual people (and their spiritual children) don’t need lunch at the same time as everyone else.
    10. Make sure that you think about church every minute through the week. Or you’re not a real Christian.
    11. Guilt is really good way to encourage a congregation.

  11. Lauri Moyle February 17, 2011 / 11:58 am

    No Murry. That is not why I reacted like I did.

  12. Pete Matthew February 17, 2011 / 12:27 pm

    I think a lot of the comments, both positive and negative relate directly to our attitude to church. Do we go to church for our own benefit or do we go for the benefit of others? Or to put it another way, am I a consumer or a contributer? Or to be more direct still, am I self-serving or self-less?

    I read an interesting article last week about the word ekklesia (Greek word) which is usually translated church. The article said it would be better to translate that as congregation. This i think would be helpful because it would help remind us that church is not the building, the denomination or any other structure, church is a gathering of God’s people. As such we should desire to serve and love our brothers and sisters by striving to model a Christ like approach to community within the gathering of believers.

    To do that would presumably mean (negatively) not being late, not focussing on my relationship with God, not excluding other people, not this that and the other. And the negative injunction helps us to know what we shouldn’t do.

    But also to reflect a selfless attitude to church would presumably mean (positively) getting there early to look out for new people, or those who are struggling. Praying as we arrive at church that God would show us how we can serve other people, encouraging other people to love and know Christ more (both in conversations and in enthusiastic singing, if the song is an enthusiastic song!)

    We should focus on our own individualistic relationship with God in our personal quiet times. When we gather as God;s people it automatically has a corporate dimension that, in a very limited way, reflects the glorious gathering of all believers in the new creation.

    Our culture is becoming increasingly individualistic, let’s strive to ensure our churches buck that trend and we ‘do’ church for the sake of others.

  13. Lauri Moyle February 17, 2011 / 1:46 pm

    Aside from the tone issues in the above post I think there is also an important discussion to be had about what constitutes the ekklesia Pete. So while I agree with you in general about most of what you said in your comment, I would say that the view is a bit too narrow. Namely the (big C) Church and its community, and the Kingdom of God is bigger than the local expression of a church such as CCB and perhaps more importantly to this discussion the church program. This also relates to the importance of the theological concept of the Kingdom of God and what it means for Christ’s work to permeate all of creation. The local church is an expression of the Kingdom of God, but it goes far beyond talking about “spiritual thing.” Rugby is an expression of Christ’s creative work in man and you rightly enjoy it, though perhaps not the environment in which it takes place. Redeem that environment.
    Spending time with friends over a pint even if we are not talking about deep stuff is Christ’s work. That is church too. So how does that sort of organic church life relate to the church program? It’s great that a lot of work goes into the program at CCB. I know that you, Richard and the team put a lot of effort into what you do. It is valued. Without it we would not be here. And if people don’t give the same sort of commitment to the church program I am sure it is frustrating. And some of the points Richard made here and in a previous post are about that program and how we relate to it and sometimes we fall short.
    But I do want to turn the tables a bit on you hear and ask when the last time one of you rocked up to Phil’s fantastic film night? I saw you at Phil’s birthday party and it was a great encouragement to me that you where there. You came late and left early. But you know that’s absolutely fine. I didn’t see Richard there. He might have come and left before I arrived. I don’t know if Phil invited him, I hope he did, but if he did… well what sort of leadership does that show in relation to the rather petty post above? It was Phil’s 30th. Big year that. Phil is one of the most dedicated people CCB has. I think people around him who have been immensely helped by his commitment to friendship, support and hard work and I know many would agree. I wouldn’t be at CCB if it was not for Phil, amongst others. He is also mature in his faith and has an overabundance of emotional intelligence and capability to differentiate and apply the above critical comments to his life. However, if he is asking about the tone, then I dare say people who don’t have his gifts, spiritual maturity and patience might be crushed like an eggshell under the weight of the sarcasm in the post above.
    We are not as REM says shining happy people all around. We don’t all want to spend time with other people all the time. Sometimes we will go to other churches because we did need a weekend away from London because we aren’t used to the crowds’ and it tires us out. Sometimes, newcomers don’t want to talk to people the first time they come to church because they are shy and want to be given space to observe before committing. Sometimes after newcomers have been greeted by most people 3-4 times they feel like there is a barrier to go beyond in order to depend relationships. That’s human. It’s natural. Some of us rely on public transportation which, in case you didn’t know, is not as reliable as hopping into your people carrier. All of that I know Richard knows… so why mention it? Why not assume the best of people? Assume they are adults and concentrate on stuff that really matters? Why not encourage people? You like to be encouraged right?

    In relation to tone I also want to make clear that has nothing to do with “negative” or “positive” recommendations. We need both. When Phil used the term negative he was using in relation to the idea of “going negative.” namely, by moving into the sarcastic, cynical but I think that should be clear.

  14. Pete Matthew February 17, 2011 / 2:07 pm

    Lauri,

    Thanks for the response. I think we have quite a different understanding of what church is. Your example of the rugby club and having a beer with a mate after is not church. It, hopefully, is evangelism, as in deepening a friendship in which we can have serious discussions, but it’s not church.

    Church is the gathering of God’s people in community, it is linked to all other churches vertically through our heavenly membership not horizontally. The kids slots at church on it being a body, building, bride (this week’s one) are all about the gathering of God’s people. It is distinct from the rest of creation. (of course it functions in creation and is tasked with bringing order out of chaos) but it is an earthly gathering of God’s people.

    Bringing creation under the rule of Christ, redeeming the rugby club is a function we do as Christians, it is not the church. It is part of our great commission. We are members of the church who are called to be Christians in the world.

  15. Lauri Moyle February 17, 2011 / 2:14 pm

    But your second paragraph says what you contradict in the first. apart from the very unclear and a where more work needs to be done in theological terms about the horizontal and vertical nature of Church.

    Where ever I am, the church is because I am a member. So what you are doing is close to splinting hairs. When I meet with Phil, Anna and some other chaps over lunch on Sunday, by your definition it is church.

    Either way, that does not address the organic side of things such as the film club or the birthday party etc.

    • Pete Matthew February 17, 2011 / 2:18 pm

      Lauri,

      Sorry I did summarise my definition of church. It is the gathering of God’s people who come under the teaching of God’s word and share the sacraments.

      Therefore, Sunday lunch is not church.

      • Lauri Moyle February 17, 2011 / 2:29 pm

        Ok we will have to agree to disagree about terminology, but I think the separation cannot be made so simply. its not a line in the sand that is made because of a specific definition of what the church is. The Kingdom of God is about the rule of Christ on earth. In that sense the organic things I was describing are at least as important in the day to day reality of the church as you defined it as the inorganic ones. KG is not really related to the sacraments (narrowly defined) inasmuch as its more like a bible study than a sermon or teaching… So you know, the definition is too narrow for your own perpouses.

      • Pete Matthew February 17, 2011 / 3:02 pm

        Lauri,

        I don’t think KG is church.

  16. Pete Matthew February 17, 2011 / 2:16 pm

    Lauri,

    In response to your statements at the bottom, let me briefly reply.

    When we go away we need to realise that we are separating part of the body of CCB. We all go away – I have 6 Sundays a year when I’m not there. But, we need to realise the impact on others when we do that.

    For a newcomer to come to church and not be spoken to would be incredibly rude and uncaring. Many do want to spend some time reflecting and thinking about whether to join the community at CCB. That’s fine and normal. But for someone to turn up for the 1st time and not be welcomed would be a disgrace.

    Public transport is unreliable, that’s fair. So when I’m on stewarding and need to take the bus, I leave earlier to make sure I’m on time.

    Our attitude to church is important. What we do as a community gathered as church and how we do it is important.

    And of course you’re right I need to be encouraged, and I need to be rebuked, and trained and corrected, so that I will be fully equipped to live the life that Christ died for me to live.

  17. Lauri Moyle February 17, 2011 / 2:19 pm

    By nit picking you are missing the point entirely. As for your last two paras, I never disagreed with that. I say that for the avoidance of doubt.

  18. Lauri Moyle February 17, 2011 / 3:25 pm

    Just so I understand, let me summarise. You don’t think KG is church, but you are happy to say that we should: “desire to serve and love our brothers and sisters by striving to model a Christ like approach to community within the gathering of believers.” By which I take it you mean more than church…

    You haven’t said anything about the organic stuff that the ekklesia get up to, which is not part of the official church program, yet you seem to want to say that Sunday lunch isn’t church, so how do we do the above if not also outside of what you are calling church?

    I think you know what I am getting at. At least I hope you do. In relation to Richards post on KG then, I take it that what you said about individualism and community does apply there as well. So I somehow feel you are contradicting yourself, but I am happy corrected.

    I want to say this again. I am being strong on the subject because of the tone of the above post and not because of the sentiment behind it. But since you raised the sentiment in a different way Pete, I wanted to address that as well. So again, I am not saying that I am perfect on this issue, or that I feel rebuked by this issue and therefore am reacting strongly. That is not the case. I am reacting to the tone. To the emphasis an importance which these petty things are given here and at times in church meetings and I am reacting to the fact that these things are done critically and on balance there are more rebukes which comes within the context not of grace but of law (though grace is assumed). Warnings and rebukes come more often that praising what is good, which is usually an after thought.

    I am fed up with that.

  19. Pete Matthew February 17, 2011 / 4:13 pm

    Just a quick response as I need to shoot off.

    Church isn’t all we do as Christians. There are lots we do outside of our gathering together as church. Sunday lunch, KG, housegroup would all be examples of that. And in those we should strive to help our brothers and sisters grow in their love and knowledge of Christ. When I meet someone for a coffee I want to do that, when I meet someone to read the bible I want to do that. But I’m not doing church at that point.

    This post was originally about when we come together as church. What we do when we meet socially is part of our function of being a Christian.

  20. Abounding Joy February 21, 2011 / 5:51 am

    What a refreshing way address the some of the issues the church congregation or perhaps, better said the church leadership faces. I attended a mega church here in the states for over 12 years. I CHOOSE that kind of church because at the time I was seeking a form of godliness, but denying his power. Me, not everyone else there, I’m speaking of my own sin and selfish behavior. By attending but not engaging, I shuffled in and out of the masses, no accountability, no responsibility. Every single one of the types of things listed in the original post happened to some degree or another for the entire time I was there, by myself AND the masses. I was a Sunday school teacher, a member of the choir and attempted to be a part of a few small groups, but got disenchanted when i realized the same 100 or so people were serving over 5,000. And none of my counterparts cared any more about me than i did of them. Even in the smaller sect of “servants” we were disengaged and uninterested in one another. When I stopped attending, no one knew that I left, because no one knew I was there, or cared. The one person I later encountered asked if I still attended, was a pal from high school, not from church. He was no longer there either, neither had missed the other at church. Upon my beloved pastors retirement after 25 years he commented his biggest regret was creating a congregation a mile wide and an inch deep, because he failed to hold his congregation accountable, and friends, these are NOT idle points, they are an indication of the blasé attitude about our commitment to God.
    The greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul, and to love your neighbor as your self. The greatest of these is LOVE. How can you love your neighbor if you don’t engage with them? If you attend the symphony, they would not allow you to enter late until a break, so as to not disturb others. Even if YOU do not care of the singing, it is disruptive to those around you. Attending a service to check it off your list of duties for the week is patronizing at best, and if your not engaged while you are there why did you waste your time going in the first place?. If you were to show up to a friends dinner week after week, late, distracted and ancy to leave before the dishes are cleared what type of friendship would you have? If we show up to the Lords house, late, disracted, disengaged what type of relationship will we have with Him? (not to say the church building is the only place to encounter God. But if we don’t expect to encounter him there why bothergoing a all?) How do we measure our love for him? By how we keep His commandments? How do we demonstrate our love for our neighbors? By how we CARE about them, that includes the pastoral staff, worship team and coffee cart attendant. Be courteous, the worship team practices in many cases for hours for one service to present something that would invite YOU to worship your God. The pastor has spent hours seeking Gods heart for His congregation, studied the word, researched interesting facts to keep you entertained and relevant to 2000 year old text. You will no doubt take at least a moment to pause and reflect on my post, if you’ve packed up your things before the last point is made in a sermon how will you reflect on whether or not some point in that message was meant for you?

    I agree, there are weekends that I do not attend service, sometimes I want to lounge around the house, I may arrive a few minutes late because I couldnt do anything to prevent the circumstances that made me late, I may have had too much coffee and must exit immediately upon closing to use the facilities. I may even have a splitting headache the prevents me from engaging in the worship or sermon. But never have all of these things happened on the same Sunday, nor do they happen week after week. My dad always used to say, if the shoe fits…Satan is the accuser of the brethren, not your pastors tounge in cheek way of sharing his heart on an issue that happens in your country and mine. Some one commented that kingdom of God was about Christs rule…I beg to differ, it was about his LOVE…I did not come to condem the world but to save it. I would have been offended at those statements a number of years ago, when I was focused on my feelings and not those around me, or my Lord’sWhat a refreshing way address some of the issues the church congregation or perhaps, better said the church leadership faces.  I attended a mega church here in the states for over 12 years.  I CHOOSE that kind of church because at the time I was seeking a form of godliness, but denying his power.  Me, not everyone else there, I’m speaking of my own sin and selfish behavior.  By attending but not engaging, I shuffled in and out of the masses, no accountability, no responsibility.   Every single one of the types of things listed in the original post happened to some degree or another for the entire time I was there, by myself AND the masses.  I was a Sunday school teacher, a member of the choir and attempted to be a part of a few small groups, but got disenchanted when I realized the same 100 or so people were serving over 5,000.  And none of my counterparts cared any more about me than I did of them.  Even in the smaller sect of “servants” we were disengaged and uninterested in one another.  When I stopped attending, no one knew that I left, because no one knew I was there, or cared.            

    Upon my beloved pastors retirement after 25 years he commented his biggest regret was creating a congregation a mile wide and an inch deep, because he failed to hold his congregation accountable, and friends, these are NOT idle points, they are an indication of the blasé attitude about our commitment to God.  

    The greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul, and to love your neighbor as your self.  The greatest of these is LOVE.  How can you love your neighbor if you don’t engage with them?  If you attend the symphony, they would not allow you to enter late  until a break, so as to not disturb others.  Even if YOU do not care of the singing, it is disruptive to those around you.  Attending a service to check it off your list of duties for the week is patronizing at best, and if you’re not engaged while you are there why did you waste your time going in the first place?.  If you were to show up to a friends dinner week after week, late, distracted and ancy to leave before the dishes are cleared what type of friendship would you have?  If we show up to the Lords house, late, disracted, disengaged what type of relationship will we have with Him? (Not to say the church building is the only place to encounter God.  But if we don’t expect to encounter Him there why bothergoing a all?)  How do we measure our love for him? By how  we keep His commandments?  How do we demonstrate our love for our neighbors?  By how we CARE about them, that includes the pastoral staff, worship team and coffee cart attendant.  Be courteous, the worship team practices in many cases for hours for one service to present something that would invite YOU to worship your God.  The pastor has spent hours seeking Gods heart for His congregation, studied the word, researched interesting facts to keep you entertained and relevant to 2000 year old text.  The coffee attendant was there brewing your coffee warming your tea early.  You will no doubt take at least a moment to pause and reflect on my post, agree or disagree.  However, if you’ve packed up your things before the last point is made in a sermon how will you reflect on whether or not some point in that message was meant for you?

    I agree, there are weekends that I do not attend service, I am out of town or sometimes I want to lounge around the house, I may arrive a few minutes late because I couldnt do anything to prevent the circumstances that made me late, I may have had too much coffee and must exit immediately upon closing to use the facilities.  I may even have a splitting headache that prevents me from engaging in the worship or sermon.  But never have all of these things happened on the same Sunday, nor do they happen week after week.  My dad always used to say, if the shoe fits…Satan is the accuser of the brethren, not your pastors tounge in cheek way of sharing his heart on an issue that happens in your country and mine.  

    I wonder to those have been offended at this text would you have preferred a board meeting, or Sunday morning service to discuss such issues?

  21. Rowena Wilding December 21, 2011 / 11:33 am

    Perhaps you should add – always refer to the pastor as a he, no matter what the circumstance.

    • theurbanpastor December 21, 2011 / 3:20 pm

      Rowena, are you deliberately trying to get me into trouble and alienate myself from a potential readership by getting me to reveal that I’m a complementarian rather than egalitarian?! That’s a subject for another post! It’s a playful comment with a sting in the tail. But surely we can agree that regardless of what we think about women in overall church leadership, that these ten things do tend to have a negative impact on our church gatherings? Yours in a spirit of conciliation, perks

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