This morning was the inaugural Women’s Breakfast meeting for our church. Three of us ladies got together at the downtown Denny’s to enjoy breakfast, have good conversation, and communal prayer.
Although many topics were discussed, predominantly along the lines of work, once we started sharing prayer requests, our church came up.
We go to a small church that meets in a lecture theatre of a local university. On a good week there are 60 people in the congregation. On a poor week there are 30-40.
Over the past few weeks, the pastor has been up front, asking for volunteers to take a turn in teaching Sunday School. No one wants to step up. There seems to be two sectors to our congregation—one which is already heavily involved and doesn’t have the time or ability to take on Sunday School as well, and one where people are apathetic, angry, or scared. It seems that 20 percent of the congregation does 80 percent of the work. And the other 80 percent seem to be content just sitting in their chairs on Sunday.
While I try not to judge these people, it’s difficult. After all, isn’t acts of service an integral part of the Christian faith, as well as necessary for running a healthy church? I am sure that some of these people are actively involved in initiatives outside in the community, but the church won’t get volunteers externally. It all needs to come from within the congregation.
I vented some of this frustration to the two ladies sitting at the table with me, when one of them said something that I hadn’t thought of before. “Angry people,” she said. “Our church is filled with angry people who don’t realize they’re angry.” Our church is rather avant garde and tends to attract a certain type of person—specifically those who are disenchanted by the western Christian church, and reject it for the hypocrisy, judgement, and hurt it has caused them in the past. Now, they have found a church that embraces them in love, but that hurt still keeps them from getting any more involved than sitting in the chairs on Sunday mornings and going to a restaurant for lunch afterwards. These people, however, for the most part, don’t seem to realize that they’re angry, whether it be at the church, God, or themselves. So how do we help these people to get to a point where they recognize and deal with their anger? How do we help them to heal to the point that they can feel they are a part of a church where they can serve, love, and be served by others?
The most obvious answer is prayer; prayer for the softening of hearts that have been hardened, prayer for a willingness to forgive.
But beyond that? What do we do? Do we offer a group called Angry Christians? Moving On and Embracing Faith, Life, and Love? I feel like that would ultimately be a flop.
The other thing about our church, is that its growth has become stagnant. I love this church, this group of people, intensely. There is no way to allow others in and to love the church if we ourselves are angry with God and his people. Healing must come first before church growth and a gracious faith that others want will become a reality.
“He must become more. I must become less.” Such a counter cultural concept. We stay angry when we try to flip that verse, allowing the focus to be on ourselves. It isn’t until we realize that life and faith are ultimately not just about us, that we as