Missing Church?

Mark Batterson recently tweeted: One of my driving motivations as a pastor is this – do people actually MISS church when they MISS church?

A couple of weeks ago on Sunday I was away from home.  We knew there was going to be an opening worship service for the conference we were at so no morning worship was planned.  But then some folks got together and said, “There’s just something about the Body gathered for Sunday morning worship that seems…holy…honoring…right. Like we’re missing something without it.”

They weren’t being legalistic, but they decided to put together a Sunday morning time of worship for anyone who wanted to come.  Lazily I almost didn’t go, but at the last minute slipped into the back and was treated to voices from every continent raised together in praise, a corporate exercise in adoration using the Psalms, and a simple Bible message.  Reminders all of the love of Jesus and the power of the Body joined in community.

This discipline of gathering as the church, weekly, has been something I’ve been pondering a lot recently. Continue reading

What to do When You Don’t Have X-Ray Vision

I played a tennis match awhile ago against an amazon-like woman who wore her anger like the too-tight tennis dress she had on.

I tried to talk friendly. “Wow it looks like you’ve been somewhere warm!” I said admiring her tan.

She glared at me. “No.  No place,” she said emphatically.  “I just do this for tennis.” indicating a self-tanner.

“Have you played long?”

“Awhile.” Scowl.

We played.  She scowled more.  Gave terse answers to my attempts to get to know her.  Told me I was flat-out wrong on a line call.  She got mean.

She scared me.  Honestly!

I started praying while I played “Lord what is going on with this woman?”  This is crazy.  This is stupid soccer mom tennis, not Wimbledon.”

“Hurting people hurt people.” I heard in my head.  Then I realized it wasn’t anger she was wearing, but shame.  And sadness.

After the match I tried once again.  It turned out she was just back after maternity leave.  I’m sure she had been up with a baby and was sleep-deprived.  It became clear she was feeling fat and ugly and not at all “herself”.

I remember those hard-to-feel-beloved-when-you’re-so-cross-eyed-tired-and-barely-have-time-to-shower days.

It made me wonder how often we mistake shame for anger. We see the battle fatigues someone is wearing and miss the tattered t-shirt of pain hiding beneath.

Continue reading

Word Fatigue

The other day in our small group, one of the women was describing the feeling of heaviness, helplessness, and lethargy she felt upon return from a year in Africa.  I said it sounded like she had experienced “compassion fatigue” – the sense of overload you have when you’ve seen too much suffering, heard too many stories of loss and spent time with people in despair, too many requests for more money.

Visiting a church recently, I felt like I experienced a similar phenomena.  “Word fatigue”.

Continue reading