May is full of celebrations at First, throughout our community and in our day-to-day lives. You can’t help but feel a personal thrill waking up to trees with leaves on them, birdsong in the air and warm sunshine. April showers are in the rear-view, and May’s flowers are the payoff. This is a month to celebrate Mom, graduates and give thanks on Memorial Day for all who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms. Amidst the moments of thanksgiving, I encourage you to make worship a part of your many festivities. Trust me, I know there are dance recitals to attend, spring sports playoff games, grad parties and more (including my 40th birthday May 30. Guess where I’m going…). My experience is that all those blessed endings are put into perspective as I remember their source. The season of Easter is seven weeks long, which means the entire month of May is a time to celebrate new life! If Sunday morning doesn’t work for your schedule PLEASE CONSIDER WORSHIPING WEDNESDAY EVENINGS. I write that in bold because I hear many of you truly wishing you could attend Sunday worship but trips to visit family, watch the games, or recover from Saturday (seriously… I’ve heard that one more than once) keep you from attending. These real life reasons are why we started a Wednesday evening worship years ago. Wednesday services are 45 minutes (6:15—7:00), include a completely different sermon than the previous Sunday and offer a great mid-week time of sabbath. The nursery is available. We commune every week. Put it in your calendar as a recurring event so you remember it.
At the heart of our faith family’s identity has always been worship. For generations, First has enjoyed a beautiful sanctuary, exceptional music and faithful preaching. In 2014 our average worship attendance was 533 people per week. Last year that number dipped to 473. I have talked with a variety of people about why they think fewer people are attending worship. And there are a variety of guesses. The sanctuary is still beautiful. The music is still exceptional. And I’d like to think the preaching is still faithful. Are our members that much more ‘busy’ (four-letter word) on Sunday mornings than two years ago? Are Wednesday nights not a realistic alternative for those ‘busy’ families? Is our style of worship suddenly undesirable? Is there anything I could do, as your pastor, to make worship a more regular habit in your week-to-week life? If so, TELL ME! E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at (608) 783-2236 or stop in to the church office for a completely non-judgy, non-defensive, non-argumentative conversation about the obstacles that keep you from worshiping. I am completely open to not only hearing but changing things that can be changed. I pray that your May is full of celebrations, gratitude and worship!