This morning, we will address a recurring question, “Where do we worship?”
I know that sounds like it ought to be an easy question, but for a pastor away from home, it really is not. It’s a question that can raise a knot in my stomach.
Some of my angst is legitimate, I think. At home, we are … well, home. We know the people. We know what to expect. We know where everything is. When away from home, we’re never quite sure what we’re getting into.
We’ve encountered cold, formal churches where the worship was routine. We’ve been to churches where the people were nice, the singing was fine, but the preacher was just mailing it in—you know, three simple points and a story about a boy and his dog. We’ve been to churches which rode theological hobbyhorses and raised some uncomfortable discussions on the way home. We’ve even been to churches where the people were too friendly, by which I mean they swarmed us in a syrupy, “That’s a big family, we need to get them to come here!” kind of way. We were once at a church that made us stand up while they sang and the ushers brought us little bags of Hershey kisses. I loved the candy, I hated being singled out. And being “recognized” is especially bad if they know I’m a pastor. I always remove my halo, but that doesn’t seem to help. I might try dressing like a biker.
I think all of the above are legitimate beefs. I try to turn them into positives. It helps me put on the shoes of a visitor to FBC, to see things as a visitor would see them. I resolve I will never just mail it in. I appreciate anew the honest passion and genuine compassion of FBC’s people. And I might even steal the good while discarding the bad (“Hmmm, Hershey’s kisses!”).
But I have to be honest. Some of this turmoil, maybe most of it, is self-induced. I set up “home” as the standard and then judge others critically. I do exactly what Jesus said not to do. So I woke up last night and asked for His grace to overcome:
Father, help me to simply worship You today. Help me to see Your perfections, not human imperfections.