Monday, September 1, 2008

Sports and Church and Old Radio Evangelists

Two grandson’s played their final baseball tournaments this weekend. Kind of a Labor Day Classic of sorts. Both of their teams were in the final games – one won and the other placed second. Both worked hard at what they did. And Grandpa is super happy with what them. What an effort!

One grandson was in Windsor and the other was in Kitchener, Ontario. Dedication on behalf a whole flock of parents that are dragged along to wherever it might be…along with the whole family.

As I have come to know some of these parents and grandparents that tag a long it has been an interesting community adventure. Now after a couple of years I have come to know each one a little better. They are an amazing group to say the least.

I love the community connection.

Yesterday as we prepared to travel to the church in the morning we left early to get there on time. Early in our area means “radio evangelists” expounding on their programs to a waiting audience. It is early so I doubt that many are really listening… but in a way it is like Blogging – you never know who is reading – or listening.

On the radio was an old man. Yes he was old – you could hear his bad denture fit and the rusty old voice that has been on for years. He was going down the line letting everything and everyone have it. There was nothing good about anything. The good old days were all gone and the whole world and the present church in particular were going straight to HELL – in his mind anyway.

“Dear friends…I can remember when the prayer room was full. I can remember when the Sunday night service was the largest meeting in church. Now people want the service to start earlier so that they can get home to their favorite TV programs. In some cases they don’t have a Sunday Night meeting at all – maybe not even have a prayer meeting! Friends out there – the church is in trouble. Oh how we need to pray.”

Then he went on to blast the organized sports and the way that families spend so much time doing things out side the church building and in the community. Oh how we needed to get back to the old ways. Oh how we needed to stop being modern and start becoming old again.

As much as this old preacher elaborated the perils of the community that we all live in – the more I wanted to shout at him – GET A LIFE… WHERE WOULD JESUS BE TODAY IF HE WALKED AMONG US – PROBABLY IN THE BLEACHERS WITH NON CHUCRH PEOPLE – DUH!!!?

If any one thing could set off a person in the community to say – “I DON’T WANT THAT KIND OF CHRISTIANITY!” – it is this kind of preaching that borders on the edge of hatred for everything. If it is fun he is “agin it!” (that is against it…)

Yesterday morning in the vehicle as we drove along the road I was having flash backs. Sunday was a day of running crazy to church and being sure that you were there – ALL THE TIME.

I have a certificate that shows for about 5 years in a row we were in church (in Sunday School) 52 Sundays a Year! No kidding. The date was such that I knew that Dad and Mom didn’t have a car all of the time… we went by city bus – even through snow storms! That’s right we walked 6 blocks to the nearest bus stop.

We were a dedicated family. Dad worked 6 days a week and the 7th was God’s day… and a day of rest… and run to church so you could rest… ?

And during that period of time in life the Old Radio Evangelist was waxing eloquent… about all that you should not do… and how Church was changing and we don’t want thehurch to change – OR BE NEAR THAT TERRIBLE WORLD OUT THERE!

As I tuned out the Old Radio Evangelist I heard my wife telling me that our daughters had called – one in Windsor and the other in Kitchener – to tell us the up to date results. Both boy’s teams had won everything up to that point.

Dear Old Radio Evangelist… were you there for your kids when they wanted to play Baseball? Did you attend your grandson’s games or granddaughter’s games – or you just too busy being a Christian? – and laying guilt trips on the rest of the great old people that were sitting there each week? Oh – and may I ask – are any of your kids in church today…?

Yes church attendance is down. But it is the young couples that are coming to church more and more… not the old people. Many old ones are not that capable to get out anymore. They are slowing and not going.

In the last few years as we held some of the last typical “Sunday Night Services” – old folks just didn’t come. It was too much for them. The young folks that came wanted something more – where they could discuss what was talked about in church Sunday AM – or discuss and ask questions about what they were reading in the Bible. It was really different.

At the present time Northview Church doesn’t have a Sunday night meeting or get together at all – at least over the summer time. I was told that people need a break – and they will begin in the fall again – with a new kind of program or service. With an Interim Pastoral role it is wise to regroup.

But what is the Old Radio Evangelist going to say about our church? Yikes.

I am going through some waves of emotions at this point. For a Pastor - the summer is always a time when you are moving full time into the fall season getting programs in place and preparing your preaching for the next three months. I am not doing that now – as retirement from that kind of Full Steam Ahead Program for Northview… it is no longer mine – or no longer needed. Now I enjoy Grandkids a lot more and want to say that it is okay…

The present Interim Pastor at Northview is my friend Herb Shoemaker… an “early retired” minister. One time when we were sharing a moment he told me how he had made his decision to retire. He said it was during one of those times when pressure was on him and the staff for further programming and preparation – and he realized that it was time to pull from it all. Oddly enough now he is doing what I was doing in our church… and I am shifting away… but the feeling is still there…

I want to shout today… Sports are okay. Church is Okay. And the Old Radio Evangelist – he is okay too… but maybe he will get a new attitude some day and the church that is coming alive now will lead many to a new understanding of love and concern… and people will meet Jesus...

~ Murray Lincoln ~

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