Sunday! It’s Sunday! So exciting!
Are you excited to head to the church building this morning and worship with your spiritual siblings? I am.
Oh, you don’t know so many of them? Same here. There are many I haven’t met and built relationship with.
Oh, that one didn’t talk to you, didn’t notice you? Been there. I’ve felt like I was invisible.
Oh, they don’t sing the songs you like? Yeah, I’ve had that, too.
Oh, the church building is always too hot or too cold? Let me tell you, I know this one! I used to always be too hot, now I stay cold. UNcomfortable!
Let’s get real for a few minutes.
First of all, WHY are you going to the church building?
Too many people you don’t know? Why is that? When you go in, do you gravitate to the same people, or do you notice and introduce yourself to others? Time to start meeting those new folks! That leads to the next ‘issue’.
People don’t notice us? Did you make yourself noticeable? Did you offer an introduction or did you sit there thinking that it was up to the other person to come to you? We are each equally capable to stand up, speak up, and introduce ourselves to other people. If being noticed is high on our list, let’s start noticing others. As you pour interest and encouragement into others, some will splash back on you.
Those songs you didn’t like, were they unscriptural? Unpopular? Old hymns? New worship songs? Or is the dislike a matter of taste? Maybe God is using these songs to break through your complacency to new and amazing things in your life. If they are not unscriptural, listen instead of singing. Let the Spirit apply the balm of new words to your hard or broken heart to bless you to your core with His presence. If you prefer other songs, be sure to tune them in when you get back to the car or at home.
The temperature in the building is unbearable? I hear you. When you’re too hot, it’s just not comfortable at all! Let me ask, is your favorite restaurant comfortable or is it a bit on the cold or hot side? I get it, discomfort makes focus difficult! It’s hot, you need a fan! Isn’t that what church bulletins are for? If it’s a continuing problem, you can purchase little personal battery-powered fans or folding fans and use them. Too cold? Bring a jacket or sweater. I’ve been known to wear my fleece-lined jeans at times because I just don’t get warmed up in that weather.
I get it. We don’t like to feel uncomfortable, physically or emotionally. That focus on self, though, is dangerous territory. If we’re there to worship the Most High, we have to be sure we’re not putting self on the throne.
We can and should humble ourselves to realize that there are millions of believers throughout this world who would give everything to be able to meet with others to sing any songs, to greet one another, to sit or stand to hear the Word of God shared in heat, rain, cold, or possibility of arrest and death. They wouldn’t understand our being upset about being noticed or songs or temperature.
You know there will be people in that building today with their attention primarily on themselves. It happens every week. The sour look on their faces as you preach can freeze your blood. I’m sorry. That makes speaking so hard! Speaking tips abound on how to handle that, but allow me to suggest something else: pray for them.
No, I don’t mean to stop the service and pray for Sister Sue or Brother Bob. I mean, as you see the sourness, ask God to send His Holy Spirit to them. He knows their hearts—whether they are wounded or hard. He can deal with them, and He will.
You continue to boldly speak the message God has given you for those gathered today. Just give them Jesus, as one of the chaplains used to say before we went into the jail. That’s what they need the most.
And maybe, just maybe, learn this phrase to use whenever one of your flock has complaints, “Thank you SO much for sharing that with me!” Then move on. You don’t have to attend every argument you’re invited to, and you don’t have to answer every complaint. It’s important to let the Complainer know they’ve been heard, but it’s equally important to not entertain them.
Lead them to focus on God more than self by doing just that.
May God bless you and protect you, Pastor. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace. Amen.