Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Could you at least pretend that your listening?

I remember it well.

When the pastor at the church I attended in Mesa, AZ began to preach, one member would whip out his church bulletin and begin reading.  The entire time the pastor was preaching this fellow was glossing over the attendance statistics, the giving amounts, the calendar for the week, and all the newsy announcements.  Then, when the pastor said, "Amen," the disconnected listener would put the bulletin away, dig in his pocket for his offering envelope and then seemingly pay attention throughout the rest of the service.

It bugged me.  Here was our pastor delivering God's saving and life-giving Word to us and this fellow found the church bulletin more fascinating?

To me it was like ignoring the main course of a meal.  "No thanks, waiter, I've had bread and salad. No need for the Filet Mignon, Bring me a bowl of your best sorbet and I'll be fine."

Last Sunday I got rebugged (if that's a word).

While preaching during the second service I noticed one of our members looking at his bulletin.  At first, I thought that maybe he was just reviewing the Old Testament lesson upon which I was preaching.  But then I saw him flip through the bulletin.  It was like he was leafing through the Sunday newspaper!  Apparently, I'd completely lost him and so he decided to spend his time more productively - by reading the announcements!

It's not easy, preaching.  Sermon writing is probably the hardest thing a pastor does in a week. Trying to proclaim God's Word so that it will be meaningful to 350 people is a difficult task.  And I can assure you, 99% of pastors really want their sermons to be engaging, meaningful and help connect people to a gracious and merciful God.

So, if some pastor (like me) is boring you to a slow and painful death during the sermon, would you just pretend that you are listening? I can assure you that your pastor is trying as hard as he can to offer an interesting and helpful sermon.

And, it you can't pretend that you're listening, can you at least keep the bulletin in your lap so everyone around you can't see that your really not into the sermon that day? Thank you.

I feel better now.