Herald Journal Columns
June 2, 2003 Herald Journal
Pastor's Column

Being a regular churchgoer ­ and enjoying the challenge

By Rev. Arthur Hill, Montrose United Methodist

When my wife and I retired, we tried something new ­ we started going to church.

We had not gone to church for over 40 years.

Now it's not that we weren't interested in church going. It's that we had been church, not gone to church, sat in the pews and did what most church-goers do.

We had lead worship, provided worship for others, not attended in the normal way. I had never gone to church much.

Since I was old enough to lead, I had been up front. I had lead junior church and done the recording of services in high school, and had student charges in college and seminary.

My wife Elaine had done about the same, She was junior organist from high school on.

All our careers, we had planned and led worship. When we retired, we finally started to go to church. We began to try and figure out what the good people in the pews were doing all those years. It was a wonderful experience.

But we quickly discovered that they had also done some suffering, sat through some bad sermons and endured some inept music at times. We learned that things could get very repetitive and uninspired.

I was reminded of the parishioner who remarked, after I been at a church about 10 years, that he had just heard my 520th best sermon. I learned that pew sitters need to be polite and kind, but that this was difficult at times.

I learned that I had better be interested in something religious when I sat down because if I wasn't, there was not much a preacher could do. If I came to be bored or irritated, I could always have something to accommodate myself.

I came to appreciate the people who sat in the pews. Looking back at some of the stuff I preached, I came to admire their faith as well.

I also learned that there are two kinds of Christians, and that they have trouble talking with each other.

There are those who have the attitude, "That they are right and if I am different, then I must be wrong."

Then there are those who have the attitude, "That if they are right and I am different, there must be more than one right."

The second group is basically tolerant, and is tolerant of the first group. The first group is basically intolerant, and therefore is intolerant of the second group. When they get together they can never talk.

The tolerant ones expect to be tolerated, not changed. The intolerant are only interested in fixing the tolerant ones, though they have a marvelous set of euphemisms all of which sound more tolerant than they are.

All this makes church going a real challenge. To those readers who are considering becoming churchgoers, I share, from my recent discoveries, two important observations.

1). Church going is a really good thing.

2) Be prepared for an adventure, for nothing this good is ever easy and church attendance is no exception.

See you in church?

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