Keep Being the Church

Driving across the bridge into Charleston Saturday, pointing out the many spires, and reminding our children that Charleston’s nickname is “The Holy City,” I was met with a surprising question from our 14-year-old, “So where are we going to church tomorrow.” The correct answer, as it turns out, was Magnolia Plantation where I officiated a wedding. Pleased that he wanted to go, I didn’t discourage him immediately. Instead, I let the logistical and traffic challenge prevent our attending yesterday morning.

I’m not being overly hard on myself, my family, by design, participates in worship services quite regularly. Easy for us, right; it’s my job. If so, then I should acknowledge that plenty of people, by design, are in worship and Sunday School and places of service regularly, without it being their job. I don’t give thanks for that as much as I should, probably because their (your) participation is my expectation.

I’ve been startled out of that lately. I’ve had encounters with more and more people who speak of church the way I do of Thanksgivings at my grandfather’s house – with nostalgia about something that was a nice part of their childhood, represented something meaningful back then, but is clearly part of the past. “My grandmother was a woman of deep faith,” a 50-something man told me last week, followed by, “I used to be.” “I still believe,” he was quick to say to the preacher.

There is more than enough lamenting over the declining involvement in churches. You don’t need me to highlight that for you. Instead, let me celebrate the continued involvement you are showing. That you’ve read this far into a Monday e-devotional is more than many would do. That you are part of worship and small groups and Christian service is more than most. That you recognize church isn’t a quaint element of our culture’s past, but is part of what strengthens your faith and demonstrates your discipleship means you aren’t just keeping the concept of church alive, but you are being the church. Thank you for that!