First Words

Going to church is inconvenient

If you haven't noticed, a lot of people are finding that worship doesn't fit their schedule.

A  parishioner told me recently that her daughter’s family had found the perfect church in Dallas. “They don’t go often,” she said, “because the church live streams its ser­vices. They can watch it anytime. If the kids are playing in the family room or Mom or Dad are busy pulling brunch together, they can have worship on in the background. It’s really neat. Have you ever heard of this?”

“Yes,” I told her, “I know all about live streaming.” My eyes must have reflected a lack of interest because the conversation moved on to other topics.

Emily Dickinson opens one of her poems: “Some keep the Sabbath going to Church— / I keep it, staying at Home.” If you haven’t noticed, there’s a lot of staying at home on Sundays in America these years. For the past couple of generations, researchers have noted that 40 to 45 percent of Americans claim regular weekly church attendance. These days, I’d judge the figure to be more realistically in the 10 percent range. Of the ten lepers healed by Jesus, only one found it worth his time to turn back and express thanks. That one may be the church.