I may have told you this before, but some things bear repeating. They bear remembering more than the retelling.
During my 3rd and 4th grade years we lived across the driveway from our church. When I say our, I mean it was the church where daddy preached most Sundays and mama taught and they worked together in ministry. It was not just the ‘our’ church we attend but it was ours.
Our house was the parsonage separated from the church building by a driveway. We walked back and forth from the church offices and were as much a part of the ministry team as anyone.
The chapel was where I’d go at times, up on the platform and stand behind the pulpit. I’ll wave my hand like daddy directing the congregation to sing. I’d turn the songbook to Just As I Am because we sang that one all the time and I knew by memory where it was.
Then we were transferred and the church wasn’t next door and I got older spending more time with friends and listening to the radio. Only, when looking back, I realize part of me still played church.
Going week after week, Sundays and Wednesdays and special events, were as much habit and obligation as anything. It’s where my people were and it was a good place. We grew together and planted roots in God’s word. It felt like community.
Time went on and we entered full-time ministry. We became the ones, much like our parents, preaching and teaching on Sundays, planning events and training leaders. Church was our vocation and while it was a God-leading mission if you don’t pay attention, you will be playing church again.
You will stand before the congregation and wave your hands and sing the songs you sing every week. You will plan Advent and Holy Week and you will organize youth outings and summer day camps. And it will all be good. But you’ve forgotten church is more than a collection of parts.
We didn’t plan the change that woke me from my church induced trance of sameness. It was most unexpected. Who would ever think a bunch of guys who are required to attend an in-house Sunday service because they are part of this rehabilitation center, men whose last choice was to come to this residential program with dress codes and meeting requirements, would shake off my slumber?
The have and they do. Every week someone will teach me a new thing about grace. Someone will show me that God uses the least, the last and the lost. Every. Day.
Are you playing church? Sleep walking your way through? May the God who wakes the dead and gives life to dry bones renew our Spirit and make us alive in Him.
2 thoughts on “Playing Church”
Amen! And thanks for the memories. I spent some great years across the parking lot from the church where my dad was pastor. Thanks also for the analogy of the dry bones. Ain’t no bones so dry but what God can breathe life into them.
Ah, Larry, it is always so good to see your words here. Growing up a pastor’s kid holds a lot of special memories and was a pretty good education when I look back. Yes, yes! ain’t no bones so dry that God can’t revive. (also good memories with you and the GBCS gang – what a special time.)