Early into my semi-retirment/pastoral hiatus my wife and I visited a prominent church nearby and did not have a stellar experience. I could have had a rock in my shoe that Sunday morning but it appeared to me that we were not all that welcome. The preaching (the pastor was out that Sunday) was, well, unfortunate.
We finally got around to returning yesterday, an unintentionally long delay, and we had a very good experience.
Prior to the service, after we had found our seats, a man came up and spoke to us. I looked at my wife and whispered, "Staff guy?" Later I found out he was indeed a staff guy. OK, so you get a little less credit if you are on the payroll and are also friendly on Sunday. I still liked it. After the service, I even got a warm hug from someone who recognized me. That certainly registers high on the friendliness scale.
The music was very good. The pastor preached, was very well prepared and delivered a message that had some unction to it. No phoning it in for this long tenure minister.
It was a good Sunday morning in God's house.
Which brings me to what all pastors know to be an issue: What about a Sunday when we know that the service is not so hot, sub-typical, and we are not at our best?
What if you have a first time visitor at your church who is exposed to some musical near-disaster, grumpy congregants, and/or a homiletic train wreck? Things like that happen, as if any pastor needs a reminder of such.
Perhaps the best way to look at this is to understand that we shouldn't show up on Sunday morning with the goal of impressing visitors or congregants. In fact, God help us not to.
Worship God. Preach Jesus. Sing His praises. Bless His holy name. Worship in spirit and in truth.
Am I wrong to believe that most believers who have some level of understanding about church will find that sincerity and genuineness will show through even on a Sunday when the service is not your best?
I think not.
It would be helpful in such cases, indispensable really, to remember that Jesus is always sufficient and when He is put forward in a worship service, it will work out just fine.
It's not about the music quality. It's not about how friendly people are. It's not about the pastor delivering a homiletic masterpiece.
It's all about Jesus.
So, trust the Lord and stop all that hand wringing over what visitors might have thought about your sub par Sunday service. It's not about them, either.
Hope you had a great Lord's Day yesterday.