Sunday, August 21, 2011

Tough Sell.

 Usually my Sunday afternoons are pretty eventless - usually spent doing easy chores or baking or sewing or napping.  I like quiet Sundays because that is my time to think - most often about the morning's sermon.

Today as friends came over to admire my goats, I started thinking about church and people and why some people don't go to church and why I've come to love my church so much.  This morning one of the challenges put out by Pastor Jeff is to reach out to others in the community.  Which in theory, I am all for - but in reality, am scared to death to approach someone and ask them to come to church.

Some time ago, my fear stemmed from being extremely nervous around strangers, fear of being judged, of being labeled as even weirder than my neighbors already believe that I am.  More recently, I would have to say that my fear is more of trying to explain to someone why he or she should come to church.

How do I put into words everything our little church is . . .  beyond the reasons of worship which should be enough but often isn't to someone new.  It is a tough sell.  How do I tell my neighbors about our church family - and how it is not simply family like --but a true family?  A place that we all come together for a common belief? A place where we share our joys and sorrows? A place where it is never out of place to ask a question?  How do I explain in 5 minutes or less the importance of these people in my heart? 

I know it is hard walking into a new place especially an established church.  I know that as nice as everyone is, you certainly feel like an outsider - even after many, many years.  And if you are a person who lacks a whole lot of social skills, it may take years to feel comfortable.

There are many times that I get to church a bit early and just watch and listen to people around me.  And I wonder how it could possibly be that our church is so incredibly fortunate to have the cast of characters that we have.  Do all churches have a Barb who gives selflessly of her time for the kids of the church?  Barb must spend hours planning various Sunday programs for the kids, for putting together a Sunday school lesson each week that although the kids may not seem to be listening, will remember years and years from now.  And a Denny who is always at the church doing anything that needs to be done and who always has a coffee pot on for Sunday morning. 

How about a Claude or a Nan who always have smiles for anyone they see? Or a Nancy or a Betty or She-Gene or He-Gene? My Sunday mornings are always brighter when they are there.  The best Sundays are when everyone is there.  And then there is our Pastor who somehow makes every sermon relevant to my life and to everyone elses.  It is amazing how sermons serve as life lessons when you are nearly 50.

Sitting in my pew with the windows wide open, the band the soft hum of the ceiling fan, I listen to the sounds of the church and wonder in how many churches do you hear a dog barking and yipping, a baby laughing, a rooster crowing, and the elders of the church being reprimanded because they are giggly as schoolgirls.  I really hope that there are more churches than not who are able to enjoy the sites, sounds, and scents of our country church.

I can't imagine how anyone would not want to be a part of this.  But yet how can you explain it?  I don't think I can explain it - it can only be experienced.  And I think that if everyone knew, there wouldn't be an empty seat in the place.

God smiles down on Sprucetown United Methodist Church.

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