Tonight, I am writing from the perspective of a Baptist Pastor’s Kid. Unless you grew up like this, what I write here, might strike you as sad in an interesting sort of melancholic way. But to me, I am erupting this lifetime magma of anger and here’s another eruption.
Church is more important than people. Yeah, I know a church is made up of people so this statement is kind of weird, but please hear me out.
When I write this, I mean the process of church, the programs, the services, the mechanism. Perhaps I should write, ‘the show must go on no matter what!’
As I was growing up, church attendance was absolutely mandatory. It was more important (to my folks anyway) that us kids (there are 4 of us) be in church Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday evening prayer service. And some weeks, we would have ‘Revival Services’ in which case we had church services every night of the week! Sigh. . .
Church services were not scheduled around the Super Bowl, the very thought of that angered my father. In fact, he didn’t understand why people would not attend Sunday evening service to watch the Super Bowl. On New Years eve, we always had what was called a ‘Watchnight Service.’ This generally included singing hymns, watching a Christian movie, ‘A Thief in the Night’ was big at the time, eating a pretty good array of food, and perhaps ending with a devotional. This would carry us past midnight. I’m thinking that there were years when Christmas Eve fell on Sunday evening, we may have had church, but I could be wrong. But you get the drift. . .
On a more personal level, as I was on the high school wrestling team, we had a dual meet at home on a Wednesday night. I was allowed to wrestle as long as I wrestled my opponent first, so I could leave and be in Wednesday evening prayer meeting. If the coach couldn’t make that work, then I was not going to be allowed to compete. Happily it worked out, and honestly, I don’t remember if I won or not.
Another time, my Mom’s folks were visiting our house, and we left them alone at our house as we all had to go to church.
So, it was always Church over everything, and everybody.
My personal interests, or activities didn’t matter. They just got steam rolled over. Gotta’ be a testimony don’t cha’ know?
So I started this article with the title, Correct Beliefs Trumps Relationships. The ‘correct belief’ here was that God took priority over everything, everyone, and since the church was were we worshiped God, by extension, the church took priority over all.
And it wasn’t enough to physically have my butt in a hard pew. Oh no, I had to make sure that I listened and could repeat my Father’s 3 main sermon points of his outline when we got home! I recall being about 8 years old, my back to the yellow dining room wall, my Dad looming over me asking me what the three main points of his sermon were. I learned to look at someone’s face so they thought I was listening, but my mind was a long ways away. I learned to entertain myself in subtle ways, like crossing my legs until one was numb, then as we stood for the invitation, it was ‘fun’ to feel how awkward, wooden, and heavy it was until the blood flowed back into it again.
I learned that church was incredibly boring, there were no miracles. In fact I watched and heard people yelling in anger at my father after services at times. I realized that the churches he pastored were having money problems, while some other larger churches in the same town, seemed to be doing fine. And I had to wonder if God owned the cattle on a thousand hills, why couldn’t He sell a couple then give my Dad’s church some extra needed money? I saw the public school system was apparently well financed all by ‘unsaved people’ who were not blessed by God like we were. I wondered why this was so, if we were the chosen people whom God really loved?
And so I also learned from my observations in church, that God really didn’t provide for our needs on a timely basis. It was human planning, human networking that made for successful projects.
What did you learn from church? 🙂