Meanwhile, I stuck my foot in my mouth again at church yesterday. Our pastor sometimes ask questions during his sermon and he really wants people in the congregation to shout out answers.
Yesterday he was talking about the biggest mistake people make when they go through crisis . . . they stop going to church.
Then he asked, "So what happens when people in crisis do come to church?"
In reflex, without even thinking, I shouted out, "They are blamed."
The pastor was stunned and the congregation silent. "Oh no." Was his response. "That's the answer we don't want to hear. No . . . when people, who are in crisis, comes to church they are part of the body, protected and loved."
I have to say that the pastor and I are on the exact same page when it comes to ideals. What he said is what "Should" happen. But then I look around at the congregation. I think of one family who were key, and who no longer come because they are going through some very rough things that they want kept secret. Then I think of a couple more couples who have serious problems going on . . . but they would never, ever mention within the doors of our church.
I do remember too when I was an elder going on visitation with the chief elder at the time. I was assigned the job of praying while the chief elder did the talking. We went to a couple's home who had disappeared from church for months. The elder (who is the pastor's right hand man) started to lecture the couple on why they should be in church and how God wants them there and by not going they are disappointing God. I wanted to scream! I wanted to be their friend and ask them how their lives were going. If I had been given the speaking role, I would never have brought up the issue that they had not been in church, unless they did first. I wanted them to know that they were loved and church attendance was not an issue for me. I have the feeling that a private crisis in their lives is what kept them away, but we will never know.