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Struggling With Church

After I resigned, according to my contract, I had to stay on for three months so that church life could carry on while the process of finding a new pastor began. This was a weird time. Apart from one woman who couldn’t bear the thought of me being at church at the same time as her and stayed home for three months, most acted exactly as if I hadn’t resigned. Very little was said, very little changed, very few questions were asked. I went to less meetings, participated in less groups and had less responsibility. It was a lonely time, but it gave me a chance to watch and wonder.  

No event gave me more cause to wonder than the Sunday morning service. I watched as so many people put so much effort into making the morning service so good. It was supposed to be our front door. This was where newcomers would see us and hopefully discover that there was so much more to life when you became a Christian. Yet, I watched as the worship leaders tried hard to match a song to the sermon, or get a good flow, or read a meaningful part of the Bible. And I watched and participated in the preaching, trying to bring a meaningful encouragement or a strengthening challenge. But those who attended were unaffected. Most just stood or sat there, silently mouthed the words to the songs, listened to the sermon, gave a bit of money in the offering and went back to their normal lives. It was an observation that a pastor could only freely make when they knew they weren’t going to be a pastor anymore. I no longer had a vested interest, no need for self-validation, nor a desire to keep the machinery going. I had no reason to pretend, so I just started to ask myself, “What are we doing all this for? And for whom? Why are all the committed, mature Christians pouring all their energy into the Sunday service, some to the point of exhaustion, while the rest of the church watches and is mildly amused?” I saw the elders eldering, the worship leaders worshipping, the cooks cooking, the attendees attending, the preachers preaching, and the pastor pastoring. And everyone was confusing this exhausting frenetic activity with following Jesus. 

From “Removing The Plank” by David Smith

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