Sports-oriented parents with school-aged sons and daughters frequently find themselves involved in tournaments on weekends. Many of those tournaments occur in distant cities. Planners for these events now schedule games and matches throughout Saturday and Sunday.
Sunday sports commitments directly impact worship attendance among a demographic that congregations say that desperately want and need. Young families.
Now if our pews were already jammed and our coffers overflowing, we might hardly notice. Or, we might simply acknowledge this hectic phase of life with some nostalgic compassion for a time gone by for us and a hearty relief that our own schedules have slowed to a more manageable pace.
|Gerard Sekoto's "The Soccer Players"|
But our situation is very different.
While some congregations are growing by leaps and bounds, many are struggling to maintain their membership numbers. Others watch with increasing sadness as attendance and resources steadily dwindle.
So I understand when I hear clergy and laity alike scold these sports-devoted families in absentia. “They ought to bring their children to church! They’re teaching those children all the wrong values! They don’t know the Bible!”
Failing to see the irony, they then ask, “How can we make them come to church?” The irony I mean is this. Who wants to worship with a bunch of judgmental scolds?
As I said, I understand that some respond this way. But I also believe that such a response is completely misguided.
Here’s what I mean.