I attended the Festival of Homiletics a few weeks ago in need of a pick-me-up. The last few months had been busy with a lot happening, both in my personal life and in the life of Christ United Church. My cup was running low.
There was also one question in the back of my mind in regards to church in particular, that was starting to make its way to the forefront: Does it even matter?
Does our version of church, where we have worship every Sunday, with a 10 minute sermon, and fellowship afterwards, make a difference? I was not only thinking about this in the local context of Christ United Church in Dewitt, but in the broader context of the church in this country. I was also thinking about more than just the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America or the Episcopal Church in the United States. I was thinking about the global Christian church and all of its different expressions and denominations. Does this church thing matter?
The Power of Great Preaching
Then I got to witness some truly amazing preaching at the Festival of Homiletics. These preachers lifted my soul. I heard what I needed to hear, to help me and my life. I connected with old friends and made new colleagues. My cup was full.
It made me think back to attending church in my mid-20s. It made me remember a time before I was serving at Christ United Church, before I served at St. Stephen Lutheran Church, before I got ordained, before I went to seminary, before I got my call to be a pastor.
It made me remember that, before all of that, I went to church because it helped me in my life.
Through going to church on Sunday mornings, and listening to a sermon, or talking with people after the service, time and time again my life was made better. I received the help I needed. I received an answer to a prayer. I received a kind word from a friend.
The Good Outweighing the Bad
Of course there is the side of church that does harm people. I’ve heard the stories of people being ostracized. I’ve heard the stories of not belonging.
But for me, the good does outweigh the bad.
And now, as a pastor, I get the privilege of serving in a church to help facilitate all of those ways that helped me: in preaching, in fellowshipping, in talking with people. Now don't get me wrong, I have been helped in my life while I've been a pastor at the two churches I've served. It didn't just stop once I became a pastor.
What We Do Matters
Church matters. Preaching matters. Sunday mornings of singing, and praying, and fellowshipping, and reading the Bible - it all matters. It does change lives.
Because it has changed mine.
Peace and blessings,