I think I'm going to write a book. Well, another book. I've got three going right now but I think I might start a fourth. I'm putting together all those funny little stories about growing up that I won't be able to remember later, for my girls to have after I'm gone. I'm editing, reformatting, and compiling all of these blogs into a book. And now I'm working on a "how not to" book on church growth, actually with the intention of publishing that one. But I think I'm going to start a book on excuses.
I've heard a bunch of them. The most obvious, and most common is, "I don't have the right clothes..." I have yet to find anywhere in scripture that says there is a dress code for church...laity or clergy. In fact, Jesus talked about watching out for priests that like to walk around in flowing robes. So, I started dressing down a few years ago so that someone who just might show up in jeans will feel more comfortable.
I've been told "I don't go because Sunday is my only day off..." Well, here's a thought, drop by God's place and shoot up a little prayer for gainful employment. It won't take but an hour. Then take the rest of the day for golf, or fishing, or whatever. Wait, let me back up a bit...if Sunday doesn't work, shoot for a Wednesday night.
I've been told, "That place is full of hypocrites..." Yes, yes it is. But I honestly believe most of the hypocrites in churches all over the country are trying. Some aren't, and, to quote Ray Stevens, are just "Sister Bertha Better-n-You." But that's another discussion for another day.
One of my personal favorites is..."I just don't get anything out of it..." as if worship were actually for us in the first place. We gather as a corporate body to lift praise to the Creator of the Universe, the Author of our Salvation, and the Prince of Peace. That's one of the reasons I get so frustrated over churches who won't consider revising worship so that other folks, who may not connect with God the same way they do, can have an opportunity to lift up their praise.
But it's not about attendance only, folks are too busy to do mission, not interested in working with folks who are not like us, yada, yada, yada.
Jesus got excuses too. He even talked about them. Oh, not directly of course, but in parables. He told the parable of a guy that was putting on a huge feed, the bible calls it a great banquet, but we're in the South. He had invited all of the folks who were like him to come, but when the table was set and everything was ready, he started getting excuses. "I just bought a field, and I can't come...I just got married and I can't come...I just bought some oxen and I can't come..." So, what does the master of the banquet do? He sends for the poor, crippled, blind and lame, and when there was still room at the table, he went out and made folks come in to eat.
Now, I don't know what kind of feed this guy had put on, but I can imagine it must have been good. I'm not even sure the first ones invited knew what they were missing. I don't even think they meant to make an excuse, but something came up and they couldn't go. But, I don't think Jesus was talking about church attendance here. I think this parable was about an invitation to be part of something huge. This is just Jamie, but I really don't think it has anything to do with going to church, but instead, about a way of being.
My friends, God is throwing a feed and we've been invited to be a part. We get to decide if we're going to make an excuse or pull up a chair.