My dad is reading a book called Crossing Over: Getting to the Best Life Yet, by Paul Scanlon and this morning as he was reading, he was struck enough by the following passage that he called to share it with me:
I had a defining moment during this period of our crossing over when I met an ex-Baptist pastor who, after twenty years in ministry, had resigned and was now a barkeeper. He told me what had led him to this radical change was twenty years of soul-destroying ministry that put him and his wife on prescription medication. He described a church where he felt completely responsible to persuade people to get involved, but they refused. He became worn out from the huge effort required to convince, persuade, remind, and sometimes beg people to get behind his vision, but they wouldn’t.
I asked him what he enjoyed about being a barkeeper, and his reply hit me like a hammer. He said, “I love this job because my drinkers are devoted all by themselves.” He explained how he never had to persuade or remind his customers to come back. He never had to call his absent drinkers to assure them they were missed, nor did he have to inspire them to part with their money. Finally, he said, “my drinkers come early and stay late, but in twenty years of ministry, the church did neither.”
As my dad read it to me on the phone, I, too was struck by this statement. Wow. It’s so true.
I work for a church, and we talk about these things often. Now it seems that a “regular” attender is no longer someone who is here every Sunday, but someone who comes once or twice a month and considers this their church home. These “regulars” may or may not give financially to the church, even if they are a member and have committed to that as part of the membership covenant. Every month we look at a list of people who haven’t been counted present for the previous month and discuss how to follow-up with them to let them know they are missed. We are consistently looking for new volunteers in all areas of ministry and are just as consistently coming up short.
Why is this? Why are people, who say that they are devoted Christ-followers, not as devoted as they could be?
I don’t know the answer to that question, but that is what I am thinking about this Monday morning.
What do you think?