Yesterday was a surprising day in many respects. I was kind of dreading it because... 1) We were going back to our early start time - with a breakfast at 9 am and the worship service at 10; 2) there were a bunch of people that I knew were going to be gone; 3) I was preaching on a topic that is a bit of a struggle for me, and to be honest, it's often hard to do without sounding either like a hypocrite or like I have no idea what I'm talking about; and, 4) I just had this kind of 'lack of intensity' or something about me. I wasn't happy with the sermon, or the order of service, or anything. I was in a weird sorta mood.
But... for some odd reason it ended up being a really good morning. The breakfast went great - with more people than I expected. The worship service also had more people than I expected. And what was most interesting was just the "feel" - for lack of a better word. There was a certain "freeness" or "looseness" or something. Maybe no one else noticed it, but I did. Everybody seemed to be singing really loud, and people shared freely, and seemed more open and alive, and there just seemed to be a good 'vibe' in the air. Part of it might have been because the drummer decided to use the drum set instead of hand drums. I think the extra "noise" makes people feel more comfortable singing. Whatever it was, it was nice.
I also think it has been really good for me to quit taking attendance. I haven't done it for over a month now, and it really is freeing to me as a pastor. I still worry about the possibility of people being able to "slip through the cracks," but it keeps my mind from going off in the wrong direction. It keeps me from thinking about who's not there, and how many are there, and how if we only had a few more we would have had "this many," and wondering who was sleeping in, and who was probably too hung over, and who was... whatever. I don't like it when I do that, but it's hard not too in a small church like ours. Anyway, it's nice to finally just be happy with whoever shows up and not worry about those who don't. But I admit that that is still hard for me to do. You know, I don't want to "not care" about those who aren't there. But at the same time I simply cannot own other people's problems for them anymore. It really wears me down and makes me very unhealthy. Which isn't good for anybody.
I tried to explain to the church council about why I quit taking attendance. I didn't do a very good job. I think many of them thought it was because it was too hard to "take a count" or something. Counting is not the problem. In fact, it's hard for me still to not take a mental count. The hard part is keeping things in perspective. Keeping my mind focused. I don't know. I still can't explain it very well.
Today I am tired though. I started reading Greg Boyd's book The Myth of a Christian Nation. I've been thinking about doing a preaching series on religion and politics. But... I dunno. I'm sure it would create some controversy, and I don't want it to be seen as endorsing one candidate over another. We'll see.
Peace out folks; and in.