“Pastor, we’d love to come to church, but we don’t have time!”
“Pastor, we need Sunday morning to sleep in. We’re tired.”
“Pastor, I have to work on weekends.”
“Pastor, the kids have sports on Sunday.”
As leader of a Mainline congregation, I hear this type of comment regularly. Though tempted to lecture these families on the need to set better priorities or be more disciplined, I instead find myself sympathizing. Fact is, our culture keeps people busier more harried than ever.
Although some people have eagerly paddled into the rapids of American culture that emphasizes overconsumption of everything, including time and experiences, many others have been pushed into the whitewater by economics that threatens middle-income-to-poor families. Because their wages have been stagnant for decades and many of the better-paying jobs have gone offshore, they are forced to work harder and harder just to get by.
And there’s a domino effect where the kids are concerned. With both parents working, and working harder, their children need more and more activities to keep them busy and supervised. Hence, the rise of soccer leagues and after-school programs that stretch into Sunday.
With so much going on, it’s a wonder anybody still comes to church.
But at the same time, churches aren’t doing much to help. Even as people’s lives have changed dramatically, our model for gathering as a worship community is still stuck in the 1960s: Wake up early on Sunday, rouse the kids, get them fed and dressed, and show up to church.
We need alternative ways to be a church, but what? Different worship times? Different activities? Other models for gathering? Does anybody have a solution? Over the coming months I plan to revisit this issue again, but I’d like to hear from leaders who have ideas, or who have solutions that have worked for their congregations..
If you have an idea or comment, please reply. Thanks!