Most Monday mornings I join a group of local pastors for Bible study. It’s a great group. The group consists of Methodist pastors, Presbyterian pastors, United Church of Christ Pastors, and three or four of us, Lutherans (just to keep things in good order.) Our backgrounds are wide and varied. Our faith traditions are different and we serve in very different communities, all of which broadens our view of scripture, and I am very thankful for that.
The majority of the time we spend together is spent studying scripture and in prayer. That said, sometimes we…well, you know, “talk shop.” About a month ago, a friend and colleague brought up the topic of the ministry of presence.
Now when he first talked about ministry of presence I immediately began to think of ministry to the sick and the home bound. I began to think of ministry to someone needing to share their story with a listening ear. Listening is an essential ministry. However, that’s not what my friend was talking about. What he was talking about when he referred to the ministry of presence related to worship and church activities.
I admire my friend because he had the courage to talk about something that has been on my mind for a long time. So here goes.
No worship can be bad worship and yet, I think we can all agree that worship feels better when the church is full and when our voices blend together in song and prayer. Yet often times our attendance in worship is sparse.
We want visitors to join us in worship, we want visitors to come and “check us out” but I don’t know anyone who wants to belong to a church that no one comes to.
Sometimes I am reminded of the Luther League days when we had “so many kids in our youth groups.” We all want large and active youth groups and yet are hesitant to commit our time or our kids.
So this is where the ministry of presence comes in. Want active youth groups? Commit yourself and your kids. Want new members? Be there to welcome and worship with them. I know a thousand things compete for your time, but can’t we set aside a few hours each week to worship God together, to study scripture, and instill in our youth through youth actives that they are truly beautiful and are unique children of God?
My intent is not to criticize; rather, I want to offer a challenge as we enter September and a new program year.
Come to worship; bring the kids to Sunday school and to youth events, get involved!
Your presence is a gift. Your presence is a ministry.
Peace and Blessings,