I know - it has been ages since anything has been posted here. And I have been guilty for weeks of "meaning to do something about it" and getting sidetracked.
This morning, I read this article and it prompted me to write something about it. You see, this is one of the things I have struggled with in ministry. I grew up in a time and place where Sunday mornings and Wednesday afternoons and evenings were sacred times - reserved for church, confirmation, choir practice, and all other things associated with church. No ball games, no practice (or if there was, it was voluntary and you could be excused for confirmation class), no school activity dared to interfere with these times which were reserved for church events.
I have struggled with this because part of me very much wants to believe that we have choices, and that our choices say a lot about who we are. I still believe this is true, and this article also shows me that there are other ways to deal with this. Sometimes, we don't really have much of a choice. If we work, and our job sometimes requires us to work on Sunday morning, we really cannot be blamed - after all, if we don't work, we don't eat, we don't pay the rent, or anything else that we need. If we view our job as a vocation (as this article suggest), then we must excuse those who work on Sunday. If, indeed, we take this view, then it is the church that is failing (not the church member who works on Sunday) for not providing an opportunity for that person to worship at some time other than Sunday morning.
While on internship in Alabama, I knew of one church who had many of its members who worked in the service industry in the resorts. In order to provide them with a worship opportunity, they had a worship service on Thursday evening, with Holy Communion, to provide an opportunity for those people to worship.
Kids today are really in the same kind of boat. Sure, they could choose to not participate in sports, but for many, it is a way to a scholarship and a college opportunity that they might not otherwise have. Providing an alternate worship time for them is not only a good idea, but probably essential. If the church is not about meeting people where (and when) they are, then we are guilty of being irrelevant - by our own doing. Those who turn up their noses at anyone who cannot attend church at the "regular" time on Sunday morning cannot complain when attendance is down. Those who want more children in church need to get over the fact that they just aren't going to be there on Sunday mornings.
I remember when I was in high school (many, many years ago), there was a church that starting a Saturday evening service, aimed at young people on their way out for a Saturday night date. The idea was, that if you stay out too late to make it to church on Sunday morning (or because some had to work Sunday morning), that you could start your date with a 5:00 p.m. worship service, followed by dinner and a movie (or whatever your date was going to be). I remember thinking it was a great idea at the time, but have not found many churches willing to take on this kind of ministry. It is even more important today to look at options such as this. Worship is worship, whether it occurs on Sunday, or Saturday, or Wednesday - in the sanctuary, or the fellowship hall, or the pub down the street. God meets us where we are; why can't we as the church do the same for those who need to hear God's word?