Roping Off The Pews

This is a really cool story about a crazy pastor I once knew

ca mission - san diegoWhether Catholic or Protestant, evangelical, moderate or liturgical…you must agree that church life can be challenging, comical, exciting, boring and sometimes ridiculous. From the great monolithic, dead cathedrals to Ray Stevens’ Mississippi Squirrel, there seems to be an emotional level to suit everyone.

So, in this series I would like to take us down some roads that should bring back some memories, get your juices stirred and encourage you to laugh, love and reflect. We will have fun remembering and sharing the stories from sources that will encourage and inspire as well as bring a chuckle to your day.

And for those that are not “church goers” maybe you can get an inside view of what you are missing through the exploits the rest of us have been part of; the good, the bad and the crazy.

Church life can be very rewarding and exciting when it is lived out for the right reasons and in a way that honors the beliefs that we hold dear; it can also be totally embarrassing and dishonoring when selfishness and pride creep into the equation. And of course it can be quite comical when we see ourselves for who we are, imperfect human beings desiring to do the right thing.

For instance, we attended a church at one time whose heyday had passed and the pews were never full on Sunday morning. This church had two aisles and probably would accommodate approximately 400 and on any given Sunday would see around 100 – 125 attendees. The Pastor there at the time would attempt the right thing the wrong way.

On Sunday morning, being the good Baptists that they were, much of the flock would sit on the back 3 or 4 pews, far out of the line of fire and with an opportunity for a quick exit if necessary. This was of great consternation to this man of the cloth and he was determined to rectify the situation. (You do know that preachers like folks down close so they can see the whites of their eyes and make sure they aren’t sleeping.) One thing that he considered was to move the pulpit to the back of the sanctuary, but he thought that if he did that they would all just move to the front. But that may have been better than the solution he settled on.

Now this particular Pastor had his doctorate so he should have known better…but, he quietly roped off the back 3 or 4 rows before the Sunday morning service. This was a great surprise to everyone. And it’s not nice to mess with a parishioner’s favorite pew. Not even uninformed visitors get away with that, you know, much less the Pastor himself.

This well meaning Pastor honestly didn’t want to create a fire storm or an uprising but that is exactly what he got and what he had to contend with. It took some time to extinguish all the sparks that were generated and I must say the members in the pew won that skirmish hands down after threats of unrest and leaving the church. But all is well that ends well. He would just learn to preach to them wherever they sat, speak a little louder and love them a little more.

Sometimes Pastors learn the greater lessons. You can’t pull them in by roping them out!