Sometimes, when I share a post, I do so with a tag line of “This will preach.” Today, as I read an open letter to the church on why people are leaving posted by John Pavlovitz, I felt a stirring within me because there is so much that far too often goes unsaid in the name of making people feel comfortable. Stories of the shrinking crowds are all around us as churches are closing their doors faster than Starbucks is opening coffee shops. I remember when church was a place of sanctuary in a world crying out in pain. Sometimes it seems like our churches are on life support and effectiveness is measured by the numbers more so than by the impact of the Truth on the community. In my last message to the congregation, I indicated that when I answered the call of the Divine, it was not so that I could bounce them on my knee and give them some sugar that is sweet enough to sustain them until next week. Heck no, when I show up some how the peace gets disturbed, a damn is required to be given and having to repeat a grade while enrolled in the school of love is untenable. Jesus was the example and not the exception and if we follow his example there is no way we can stand still, be quiet or fluff pillows so that every one can feel good about a faith that goes unshared with those in need of hope. As a scholar and public theologian, I will make you uncomfortable and on a good day offend your natural sensibilities and with a smile call you out of the slumber that keeps you bound. If we as leaders don’t change our rhetoric, there will soon be no choir to preach to, no coffee hour host, no offering to count, no bells in the tower and no one with which to commune. It is time out for our Sunday morning singalong. It is time out for our back room conversations where we sooth one another by talking about taking about the state of our realities. The greatest shift that we can make in this day and age is the shift from hallelujah in the sanctuary and take to the streets and raise a standard of do-ya-lujah in the lives of those that we believe we serve.
Today, the message of John’s post will indeed preach and it is time for called to renew the affirmation the calling and in the words of St. Francis of Assisi; “Preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words.”