Friday, July 29, 2011

"I'm Sorry, Pastor..."

"I'm sorry, pastor..." 

While I have not been in the pastorate as long as many of God's servants, I have been a pastor long enough to hear many of the reasons people miss church. Usually the excuses begin the same way: "I'm sorry, pastor, for missing church last Sunday but..." followed by the explanation for their absence.

First, let me say to those who miss a service in any church I am pastoring, you do not need to apologize to me. I probably did notice your absence. However, my calling does not depend on or require you to be present. God has called me to lead the body in worship on the Lord's Day primarily by proclaiming His Word. I will do so whether you or anyone else is sitting in the pew. My responsibility is to God first and this is what He has called me to do.

So, if you miss a service, you do not need to apologize to me. Any "reckoning" required on your part is due to God, not to me.

Second, I do understand there are legitimate reasons for not attending a worship service.  Obviously, if you have died during the week, I do not expect to see you on Sunday! Seriously, though, the providence of God does bring events into our lives which require us to bypass the worship service of our local church from time to time.

For example, some older members have physical conditions which prevent them from attending worship services. Sometimes we are overwhelmed by illness and unable to come (and, if you are ill, the pastor is in favor of you staying at home!). There are times when our cars or other means of transportation keep us out of the house of God. And, occasionally, a family vacation may also take us away from our Christian brothers and sisters.

Third, nevertheless I have heard some reasons why folks have missed church which make virtually no sense to me at all. Allow me to share a few of them with you.

1. "I was out late with my friends last night and too tired to get up on Sunday morning."  Really?! Perhaps you should take the necessary steps to make certain you get the rest you need prior to worshiping the Lord on Sunday. Sunday is the Lord's Day, not your day.

2. "We have Cardinal/Rams tickets for Sunday's game." Well, I am delighted to know you care more for the local sports teams than you do the Lord. The Cardinals do play on other days of the week. The Rams sometimes play later on Sundays. Did you really have to buy tickets for a game which conflicts with the worship service?

3. "My child's ball team had an early game on Sunday." Why is your child on a team which plays games on Sunday morning? Find a league which does not play on Sunday or inform your coach at the outset of the season your child will not play games on Sunday. Besides, what is the lesson you are teaching your child? Isn't it "Sports are more important in life than worship"?

4. "Our family reunion began at noon so we weren't able to come to church beforehand." Perhaps you should tell your family to stop holding reunions which interfere with your worship of God.  Or, perhaps you should just plan on being late to the reunion. The lesson you are teaching your earthly family is you would rather be with them than with your heavenly family.

5. "Sunday is the only day I have off. I decided to relax rather than come to church." This excuse doesn't even deserve a comment.

The next time you miss Sunday worship, please do not apologize to me. I am not offended by your absence. The reason you were out is a matter between the Lord and you. Hopefully He is satisfied with it.

1 comment:

rosebrand said...

Thank you for putting my thoughts in writing. I have not been a believer or a Baptist as long as you have, Pastor Bruce; but in my relatively short time as a believer & a Baptist, I have heard all these excuses & others. Each time I have 'bitten my tongue' & not replied in the way my mind was thinking. Perhaps I need to find a way to reply to these individuals in a loving way, but in a way which reflects God's Word on the matter. I am certain I would annoy many individuals; but then this possibility never stopped Jesus.