Finding a New Church

Among other things, I’m the local Fire Dept. chaplain.  I responded to a house fire last night.  It was not big, and except for the smell of smoke and the need to turn off power until an electrician can do some rewiring, not much harm was done.  Just the same, it was a traumatic experience for the elderly couple who live there.  I’ve got a routine at these scenes:  find out where the family is, check on how they are doing starting with the those standing closest to the action and moving back to the those farthest away.  As I go I ask questions about their well being, is everyone accounted for, do they need to contact anyone, are they on any medications or under a doctor’s care.  I answer their questions about what is going on, why is this or that happening, and what will happen next.  Eventually I ask if they have a pastor or are a part of a faith community that would be of help.  The answer I got last night was fairly typical.  

“Oh yes, we’re believers.  No we don’t have a church or pastor.  We have not found a church since we moved here.”  
“When did you move here?”
“Forty-one years ago.”
What do you make of that?

2 thoughts on “Finding a New Church”

  1. Working as a chaplain to hospital and hospice patients, I’ve heard similar comments hundreds of times. Sometimes I’d ask if they didn’t miss church, and their answer was something like this: “Well, yes, it was nice, but I learned pretty much all I needed to know.” Beyond the basics, all that was left was being “able to quote scripture and argue about it.” Or they’d make some reference to “all the hypocrites in church.” Some, not many, of those people continue to be faithful readers of the Bible who pray daily. Many really did learn something about who God is, but the church community failed to engage them in any way that was continuously meaningful to their lives. Many more, I suspect, became disillusioned when “God who is supposed to answer prayer” didn’t appear to hear theirs, and the church didn’t see or respond to their needs.

  2. Wren,And then there is the, \”we got a new pastor and didn\’t like him and we just never went back.\” We both know that not everyone is going to go to church, but our shared experiences of so many church failures suggests that there is something wrong with how clergy and congregations function too many times in too many places.CP

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