One of those Sundays

It was one of those Sundays.

  • I lost my focus and then my place, stumbling over words I’ve spoken dozens of times introducing a baptism.
  • The organ got stuck on a note right in the middle of a hymn.
  • The microphones popped and rung throughout the service, with a little feedback tossed in.
  • Most of the kids wouldn’t come up for the children’s sermon.
  • My sermon, though well-prepared and practiced, just didn’t inspire. (I wasn’t even inspired.)

Yeah, it was one of those Sundays.

Of course, every other church gathered for a smooth, inspirational and flawless worship experience. They always do. At least, that’s what they (my heart and soul) tell me.

The reality?

  • A beautiful little girl was baptized and welcomed into the church.
  • A whole bunch of her non-churched family and friends clearly heard the gospel, some for the first time.
  • We all feasted on God’s grace at the Lord’s Supper.
  • We got to meet Zac, Emma and Sophia (Zac is my nephew, a second year seminarian at Concordia Theological Seminary, Ft. Wayne, IN who our church supports.)
  • There is another Sunday on the way. I’ll get another chance. I always get another chance.

That’s grace. And it’s free. So I think I’ll talk them (my heart and soul) into camping out there for a while.

How to survive a lousy Sunday

By a lousy Sunday, I mean a dramatic drop in attendance. This year we’ve been averaging about 275 in worship each Sunday, but this past week, only counted 175 in attendance. Worst turnout since June of 2006. As unsanctified as it sounds, pastors tend to obsess about such things. If we’re not careful, it becomes personal, as if the numbers were a direct reflection of our performance.

Reasons for the anomaly? Plenty to be sure. First of all, it is the middle of the summer. Even I was among those absent, having left town to take the high school youth group to the national youth gathering in New Orleans. There’s always someone sick or tired. Or entertaining guests. Cars that won’t start. Mental health days. Malfunctioning alarm clocks. Hangovers. Perhaps an information leak that the elders were leading the worship service and there wouldn’t be any communion that day.

I guess if I can embrace the ridiculously high attendance figures on Easter Sunday, I should accept the dips, too. An even better idea is to stop counting. Then it wouldn’t be an issue, would it? Until someone asks for an average attendance reports. Or wants to know how many worship folders to print.

Worst worship attendance ever: when all of Jesus’ disciples ran and left him alone. His passion was the highlight of his message and no one showed. But it was still effective. There’s a lesson in there somewhere.

From now on, when someone asks me how big our church is, or how many come to worship, I’m going to say, “I’m not sure; how many do you think there are?” I’ll just let someone else worry about it.