Lauren's 101 Reasons Not to Go to Church (i.e. What I learned on sabbatical).

Dear ECLC Friends,

First, a thank you.  Thank you for your commitment to caring for balanced leaders and providing me with a mini-sabbatical this July to take time away, care for my family, and reflection on ministry from afar.  I learned a lot during sabbatical…above all, as a church leader used to showing up without question on Sundays, I realized I’d forgotten about the 101 Reasons Not To Go To Church.

On my first Sunday away, I visited a new church. The butterflies started the morning before. I started to second guess my decision.  I checked the church's website, convinced myself it would be a good fit, then tried to put it out of my mind. On Sunday, I woke up with reasons why I didn’t “need’ to go.  Life is so busy, having the whole day ahead of me with nothing to do sounded… blissful. Being nervous that no one would talk to us...or, even worse, that someone WOULD was not at the top of my weekend agenda. This is an evening church, so I had a few hours to think about it.  Then, life got complicated.  My son didn't nap: how was he going to be in an unfamiliar church service without a nap?  We got in the car anyway. It started to pour. Construction caused a major back up and I knew we'd be late. I almost turned around three times.  When we got there, I couldn't find the right door.  I had 101 reasons not to go to church that day...but that's a whole lot less than most people for most people aren’t seminary trained, church professionals who know the ins and outs of Church in their sleep.

We in the Church spend time dreaming about how to make the Church experience “better."  More appealing, more interesting, more kid-friendly.  None of that mattered to me as I drove through the rain quietly cursing at red lights.  None of that matters...if people never even get to the door.

I went to worship that night.  Why? I went because I had told all of you (and their pastor) that I would.  I was expected. Someone was waiting for me to share the experience with them.  It wasn't because I knew I "needed" something or because I had unexpected free time or because I thought it would be spiritually life changing...but because someone was waiting for me. That's why I walked through the door.

ECLC friends, who needs us to expect them right now? Who needs us to be waiting for them on the other side?  Invite them. Mention worship to them. They have 101 Reasons Not To Go To Church...but they might actually be seeking one reason to go. You may be that reason.

- Lauren Morse-Wendt, Diaconal Minister