As usual, worship attendance has dropped since Easter. It does in many churches. A few weeks ago, I sat in the chair behind the pulpit on a Sunday and grimaced at the empty spots in the pews. In my head I wondered how these few people could afford to keep this church going, both financially and physically. Monday morning I was still feeling droopy about it, when Jan reminded me, we at Woodlawn UMC are better at being church than our worship attendance sometimes reflects.
I needed this reminder – because all the other markers tell a story of an active and vibrant church ministering with the community. There was a time, not so long ago, when we were strapped for cash, but this year our pledges and offerings are keeping up with our bills and commitments. We have been able to make some improvements to our facilities and property recently. When people come to Woodlawn for the first time, they often remark on the genuine hospitality and friendliness of our congregation. But more importantly, we are being church outside our doors. We are partners with other churches and organizations that give us opportunity to be in significant relationships in Woodlawn and the greater area; and this opens up doors for our outreach. We are serving the neighborhood so that more and more people are thinking about the love and inclusivity we demonstrate, than about a certain police commissioner who once attended our church.
I do think worship is vital for a congregation’s life; but if we don’t see ourselves as church any time other than Sunday morning, then we really haven’t caught Jesus’ idea of discipleship. When you look in the mirror, besides checking your hair or straightening your clothes, remember that you are a cherished child of God belonging to a movement of love, grace and forgiveness.
And join in on our church events this month, as we offer this love in a couple of big ways. Both the AIDS Memorial quilt display and the Woodlawn Juneteenth Celebration are wonderful opportunities for us to be church for others.