In many churches, many people see a rise in attendance around the Easter season. People want to come and join in the celebration. If we were raised in the church at all, we might notice a biological clock that lets us know subconsciously that Easter is around the corner. We quietly duck into various churches. We participate in the liturgies, listen to the sermons, drink mediocre coffee at the coffee hours. And then what? We start to suffer from the relentless ordinary of the church.
The songs carried some nostalgia, but now they just feel like late 19th century music. The liturgy was majestic and profound, but now it just sits there limply. We say the words and sing a few more times. And then, we just sort of cut out for a while. Maybe next year will be different. It's not that we don't believe. We do. In fact, we know we do. But, coming to the community of faith can feel like a far stretch from the internal convictions of belief itself.
So, why Christian? Why membership?
The church is like any other organization in that it convened by people. It is ordered and structured by those who remain committed to making it happen. It feels very ordinary. These are the same people we brush shoulders with in the grocery store and sit in the waiting room with at the doctors office. They are just regular people. For some reason, when we imagined sitting in church, we thought they might be something more.
But, as a pastor, I've noticed that something happens when people get together. They become bigger than the sum of their parts. They become more than just their own bodily presence. When they share their hopes and dreams, when the listen to the gospels and hear the stories of Jesus, they start to be stirred into not just who they are, but who they want to be. They start working together to arrive at a future that no one is able to get to alone. This is amazing to watch. It is small. It is ordinary, but it happens.
I get the resistance to membership. I really do. And yet, the church is strapped without its people. It cannot move forward into a future without members, literally - people - who are able to take steps together. For the best results,the church requires a cocktail of patience with the ordinary while holding onto an imagination for the future. This is the context of membership.
The biggest step in joining a church is overcoming the fear that from this point on, faith will just become banal and ordinary. And there are days where this indeed might happen. But, it also provides the opportunity to become something more imaginative and hopeful right here in the real scope of history.
Perhaps it might be worth the risk.