It’s right about now when the churches start busting at the seams with congregants who don’t usually attend. It will remain this way until January, after most have returned to daily life once the holiday hangover has passed. The usual suspects will remain in the pews.
The parking lots are full – us regulars have to park a country mile away when we’re used to just a small little jaunt.
The pews are crowded – us regulars are finding less room to spread out, to move.
The Sunday school classes for our children are busting at the seams – us regulars grin and bear it.
There once was a time when I found myself self-righteously clucking my tongue at these people who showed up on the holidays only and crowded those of us who attend regularly out of “our space.”
Seriously. I wish I were kidding but alas, here’s an ugly side of my person revealed.
Precisely the kind of attitude that absolultely discouraged those who tried to go to church once upon a time but quit because they weren’t welcomed just as they are. Or because they didn’t fit the “mold”. Or because they didn’t know anyone and no one reached out to them. They weren’t in a clique.
Author Matthew Paul Turner recently wrote in his blog “Jesus Needs New PR” a post entitled “Why Are Christians So…” He “Googled” the title phrase and found this:
The following words automatically pop-up when you type “Why are Christians so” in the Google search bar: stupid, mean, ignorant, hateful, intolerant, angry, dumb, crazy, arrogant, and gullible.
How wonderful. Yeah, right.
One of the comments on Turner’s post stated that Buddhists fared the best with this little “Google test” – their adjectives came up as happy, peaceful, enlightened.
If you are on the fence with what you believe, who would you rather join? The ones that are mean, ignorant, and intolerant or the ones that are happy, peaceful, and enlightened?
I recently made it a commitment to wake-up before my children and sip a cup of coffee while reading God’s word. I slip on some days and end up reading in the afternoon, but for the most part, I’ve stayed the course.
Something really good is happening.
I’m finding that those cynical, negative thoughts and irritations, such as being frustrated by the amount of people attending church during the holiday season, are on their way out. Not gone entirely, no. But leaving.
I’m not suggesting that reading your Bible daily is a magical “cure-all.” It won’t make you lose 30 pounds or decrease fine lines around your eyes. It won’t guarantee that life will always be rosy and that your prayers will forever be answered just how you want them to be.
But it will fill you up with more of the Holy Spirit and give you tools for battle on those hard days that feel like you are waging a war all by yourself.
This past Sunday when I discovered our church was jam-packed, my first thought was “This is wonderful.”
Because it is.
If only ONE person out of the holiday congregants decides to follow Jesus, then it’s worth it to me. Cliche and yet so true.
So during this crowded church season, I’m making it a personal goal to smile to the newcomers. To say hello. To introduce our family and myself.
To just simply show love.
I want to change those ugly words to loving, peaceful, helpful, Christ-focused, generous, and compassionate.
And we can do it – one person at a time.