I haven’t posted anything on my blog site in several weeks. The truth is that life has been too busy lately, but I wanted to take a few moments just to reflect on life.
I’ve been reading quite a bit about why so many people are leaving the church. I recently went to a seminar at Harding about reaching the churchles. The current president of Barna group, that does a great deal of the statical research on Christians, has put out several books about the current trend of people leaving the church. It’s a lot of great information confirming what we all already knew. What to do about it is the real question.
How to revive a church that has largely become lifeless has been consuming my thoughts. I’m convinced the reason why so many are leaving the church is because they are failing to understand what the church is all about in the first place. I mean what is the purpose anyway? That is what people are asking rather they have left the church or not. Even the people who continue to gather with the church on a somewhat regular basis have in reality left the church already. They sit in the pews to get their timecard punched. They’ve done their Christian duty, and out the door they go to continue with life. If attending a Sunday morning church service is a person’s entire concept of what church is about, it’s of little wonder why people are leaving the church.
A couple weeks ago, I preached a sermon about the letters to the seven church addressed in Revelations chapter 2-3 as a launching pad for considering what Jesus would say to our church today. At the end of the sermon I challenged our members, if they were serious about changing around and living a life devoted to Christ to come forward. It was a bold move. I really didn’t know if I would be the only one standing up there. Around 30 people responded. It’s a start, and I was glad to see it. I have some members who are barely able to walk, but they weren’t the ones left in the pew. In fact, one of my most feeble members desperately battling Parkinson’s desease, was one of the first ones down the isle.
The next week’s service was devoted to prayer, songs of prayer, and few comments from a couple people including myself on the need for repentance and renewal. I asked the congregation to join my in praying and fasting for our church. “Prayer, okay, but I ain’t giving up my food,” I could just imagine people saying. The modern American church is not about fasting. But I wonder, what if we were?
Last week we had a congregational meeting where we heard from several members on thoughts people had that would make the congregation more effective. People talked about the need for leadership. We need to reach young people, the need to train our children to lead prayers and so forth, we need to sing newer songs, etc. I’m hoping all this will come together. I am determined to provide leadership and direction. It remains to be determined if people will follow or not.
I stay busy, too busy. My one day off that I take is usually consumed by mowing the grass and trying to clean up the house and do the necessary chores around the house. That’s Monday. My son is mad at me for always being mad on Monday. Monday Madness. I get up and mow the grass as soon as it’s dry enough to mow. I usually have it done before my son is out of bed. Then we remember we have to go to Walmart because there’s a flat tire. So I get in my car, it’s a VW Bug which we call, “the bug” and the bug is really bugging me. It wouldn’t start, battery is dead. No big deal, its a manual transmission, let’s just push it and pop the clutch. NOPE. It was rolling pretty good right out into the middle of the street. It didn’t start and it’s really hard to push the bug back up the hill. Yep, I’m getting a little angry. So I have to ride my bicycle to get our other vehicle. I HATE MONDAYS.
Monday evenings is classified as Date Night. If there is any time for. It usually involves going out to eat and watching a movie together. This usually goes alright, but my wife and I are not in agreement on how to watch a movie. For Paula, this time is to be spent in quiet consentration and focus on what we are watching. NO TALKING! Really–none. No signing either. Life is stripped of all enjoyment while watching TV. Don’t ask questions, don’t share your thoughts, just shut up and listen. To me, this is a complete waste of time. To me a movie is a social event in which we talk and share our thoughts and questions about the movie, or whatever comes to mind. I also like to use my time constructively and practice guitar while I’m watching. After all, when am I supposed to practice?
My wife and I love each other, but sometimes it’s a matter of enduring one another. Her idea of recreation is eating and watching TV or a movie. Me, I like to go for a walk. I would even love to go jogging together, but that ain’t happening. I like to sing and play the guitar. I love the little town gatherings where I can attempt to play my guitar and sing. These people seem to except me in spite of my flaws, and I love it. I can even sing some songs I’ve written like the git her done underwear song and the beer truck song. Or some of my favorite covers like: I don’t look good naked anymore or the romantic love song, You’re good enough for now. I didn’t write them, but they seem like something I would have written. Now that’s my iidea of a good time. Sometimes my wife even comes if she can’t think of a good excuse not to come. It’s kind of like dragging a nonbelieving teenager to church, but I appreciate her reluctant willingness to come.
What seems so natural for the majority of people is near impossible for me. My mind doesn’t know how to shut off. Between thoughts about work, some book I’m reading, some stupid song I can’t get out my head, fear of losing my job or my mind, and throughts about what must get done tomorrow, I can’t seem to sleep. I’ve been to the doctor, alot. They did a heart monitor test, a sleep study, an EEG, and whatever else they can think of along with various medications. If I get over four hours of sleep, I consider myself well rested. But that’s not enough. If I don’t sleep for several days, I can’t think right. I get depressed, and I am very easily frustrated and angered. It’s a real problem. Its cost us a whole bunch of money, and i’m afraid I will one day just lose it and go postal. I can be so tired I can’t walk straight, but when I lay down, I can’t sleep. I get lost of suggestions. Consentrate on your breathing. I can’t seem to do that. Breathing kind of takes on a rhythm, and that will remind me of a song. I just can’t seem to consentrate. So I get anxious about not sleeping. It’s a vicious cycle that I can’t seem to get out of.
Anyway, that’s my life. My family is gone this weekend, again. Nobody but me, the dog and thousands of ants. It’s hard to be lonely in a house filled with ants that just won’t die, but I still manage to feel that way when everybody is gone. That’s why I’m grateful to just share my thoughts. If you’ve actually read this whole thing, it will really make my day if you send a comment or two. That would be greatly enocuaging, and thanks for listening.