Church: the great Minnesota get-together
September 28, 2009
by Rev. Bill Baldwin, Prairie Evangelical U.C.C., Lester Prairie

The Minnesota State Fair is known as the Great Minnesota Get-Together. Twelve days of food, fun, music, animals, and more.

This year, a record 1,790,497 people went to the fair. You would think that with over a million and a half people attending each year, everyone must get to the fair at least once, but we have over five million people in the state of Minnesota.

You also might think that with all the churches in the world, most people must get to church on any given Sunday, but if you are a regular church attendee, you know that isn’t true any more than every Minnesotan making it to the fair.

I have read that maybe 40 percent of the US population goes to church on a typical week, which leaves 60 percent doing something else. A record number of people report not believing in God, or not being sure what they believe about God.

So I ask those who still attend church on a regular basis, what might you say to a non-attending person to persuade them to give it a try? And I ask you, who never or almost never attend church, what might make church a place worth visiting?

As a church pastor, I believe we have done a poor job of presenting Christianity in a way that catches and holds people’s attention. Even the state fair only attracts one in four or five Minnesotans, and it is about pure fun, so what chance does a church have when presenting something that is potentially life-changing, but not in a particularly interesting way?

If Christianity was ever true in its message of transforming hope, it is still true today. And if the Bible’s message of salvation is still true, then no one can afford to ignore it, whether it is presented in an appealing package or not.

We all have to make the decision whether Christianity is presenting timeless truth, or not. Many, or most who aren’t attending church are floating somewhere in a state of indifference or indecision. Very few people are willing to say outright that Christianity is not true and therefore not worth following for that reason alone. Most just go about their lives without thinking about the possible impact of Christian faith.

As local churches, we may never be as exciting as the state fair, but we nevertheless have a vital, life-changing message that can literally affect the quality of this life and the next. I’m not saying that we should start offering pronto pups at church, or anything else on a stick, but we could at least make sure we are giving our best effort in putting out the good news each week.

Remember, you have a choice today about how you will live. Choose happiness and joy and be a blessing to the world.