Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Day 228: When the Novelty of Death Wears Off

A couple of years ago a auntie called me and told me how her niece just passed away. “I realize now I need to get back to church because life is just too short and I want to set a good example to my children.” The great thing is that she ended up coming with quite a bit of her family. It is something how death has a way of awakening our senses to what is really important. Sadly within a couple of weeks the novelty of death wore off and they were no longer to be found in church.

I never seem to understand the people who call me, email me, Facebook me, Twitter me (shall I go on) that tell me… "Pastor Bob, I really need to get back to church and will begin this Sunday!” I am quite confident this is a regular conversation pastors have with people all across America. Usually when a person says this they show up on that Sunday. The conversation isn't brought on because they need to be in the institutional church to hear from God but rather to be with people who love and support them....TO HAVE FRIENDS through the good times and bad times. They want to have a feeling of belonging. However, more times than not the people who tell me, “I need to get back to church because I know better” are the ones who will come for a week or two and are gone once again.

Let’s talk about the visit to the doctor when he tells you “you have cancer” or some other life threatening/terminal illness. I find it interesting once again that those who were back and forth with church attendance are now sold out to full time attendance once again. It really is a crazy roller-coaster that leaves those who make church attendance a lifestyle decision scratching their head. Now because the doctor told you something you didn’t want to hear you are finding yourself in need of support and hoping to find it? Let me clarify that I have no doubt you will find the support you are looking for in a church but why stay away so long? Now you have to get to know the new people you do not know and wonder if anyone has or is going through what you are facing. Had you stayed plugged in you would have known exactly who to call or talk to in person at church.

The deal is this…if you stayed plugged into a church and make it a lifestyle decision rather than a weekly decision, you will more times than not have the support you are hoping for. Some of the strongest friendships I have seen were formed in the church. It is totally easy to understand why it is easier to not go to church. Perhaps it was a late night at work, kids are cranky, you are cranky, or sleep is just the better option. I get that. The benefits however of being a part of a loving community of believers is priceless.

This is what I fear with people who come and go as the novelty of death (or news of a terminal illness) wears off. Inevitably this cycle will repeat, someone close to you will die and you may be given a tough diagnosis. Why start the cycle all over again when you can stay plugged in with a support system that knows you well?

There are many other good reasons to find a great church. It may be a struggle for awhile to find a good place but when you do find it...attend it. You will be glad you did.


  1. And maybe, just maybe, start thinking of how to be a blessing to others instead of being blessed. Just sayin'. One thing I appreciate about my dad was that he made clear that church attendance was never a decision to be made on Sunday--, "Are we going to church?" It was never a question, because it went without saying. If we stayed home, we were in dire straits. And while I might not always have loved the songs, sermon, pastor, prayer...etc. something must have stuck with me!

  2. I agree, but I also have been badly HURT by the church, and the pastor. So, not much support there.