When I was a kid, my mom told me that you should never point a finger at someone because three fingers are pointing back at you.
I bet your mom or a teacher or someone else told you that, too. Funny how this simple thing we learned as children is still so hard for us to remember as adults.
I took part in a discussion recently about what factors had contributed to the decline in worship and Sunday school attendance over the last several decades.
We got on quite a roll, citing trends in the economy, society and technology. The changing roles of women, family mobility and the competition from entertainment options available on Sundays were all mentioned as probable culprits.
After thinking about it some more, I realized what we sometimes fail to consider is how we have contributed to the problem, either collectively as a church or as individuals.
Oops, there are those pesky three fingers.
It’s so much easier to blame things beyond our control than it is to accept responsibility. So rather than speculate about what keeps others away, maybe I should begin by asking myself what brings me and how well I communicate that.
When I was much younger, I could use the excuse that “my mother made me,” but not anymore. I was taught to be afraid of what might happen if I did not go, but I’m not coming out of fear anymore.
At one time, I was concerned about what people might think of me if I did not come to church, but when so many folks are doing other things on Sunday, that social pressure just isn’t there today. And I’m not a lifelong Lutheran, so can’t really chalk it up to tradition.
Sometimes we sing one of my favorite hymns and sometimes we have a praise band, but neither is a sure thing, so music is not a significant enough reason.
The pastors I’ve had all brought their own unique sets of gifts to their ministries, so there isn’t any one person in the pulpit who can take credit for me being there, either.
I have found worship outdoors with 30 to be as meaningful as with 300 in an auditorium; it “works” in a variety of settings.
If it’s not family or fear or guilt or habit or the music or the preacher or the place that makes the difference between sleeping in and getting up on Sunday morning, then what is it?
Finding the language to answer that question is a challenge, but if we can’t figure out how to say it, how can we tell anyone why they should join us there?
Find a link to Anita Nuetzman’s blog A Front Pew View at Lutheran Blogs.