Monday, December 22, 2008

Snow Day

I spoke on Humility last week at church.

God chose to use that as a springboard to teach me humility. You see, here is a brokenness that almost all pastors have…and certainly, that I deal with from time to time, and that is the brokenness I call “Attendance Validation.” It means that, as a pastor, you are actually validated as a human being if the attendance in your church is strong and growing. If the attendance in your church has plateaued or is declining, you really have no purpose in life, and you might as well make an end of it. The Samauri call this hari-cari or seppuku, but some pastors I know perform emotional self-disembowelment every Monday morning.

The problem with serving at a church in the Northwest is this: the weather freaks people out. A lot. It rains a good amount, and rain freaks people out which makes their cars only drive as far as Starbucks. Occasionally it’s nice on a weekend, and it freaks people out and they scatter to the mountains, which they can suddenly see for a change. But it also happens, from time to time, that it snows, and when it snows here, people lose their minds.

They buy up ALL the gas at the gas station for their generators. You can’t find a BBQ lighter for sale in the state, people buy them by the gross. If we had bunkers, everyone would be hiding in them, as if was RED SNOW, with high radiation levels. Here is a true story…when it begins snowing people abandon their cars on the side of the road and walk home. I’m not making this up. It is an M. Night Shyamalan dream.

Back to my point: It snowed this weekend. It snowed last weekend. Attendance at my church was affected. (That’s the politically correct way to state things.)

I’ve been humbled. It’s a lesson I learn with some regularity…

So Jesus, I know my validation doesn’t come from attendance, but that it comes from who YOU say that I am. My value comes from the worth that YOU ascribe to me…and since worth is determined by what someone is willing to pay…and since you gave your LIFE for me on the cross…I have to conclude that my worth to you is priceless. THANK you, Jesus, for re-teaching a fundamental truth. I love the liberation that your truths bring…and…and...

I’m pretty sure I’ve been humbled enough, Lord.

So…maybe it could just be cloudy next weekend.

With a slight chance of no weather. Amen.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mikey, sorry to have had to miss the service but we have literally been house bound. We WILL be catching up via OCC's marvelous audio/video download tho...

Let thyself noteth be discourage [king john version {;o)], you are doing a great job/service to OCC and the kingdom.

Love, John & Julie

Curt said...

You're still THE MAN even if no one shows. Miss you brother. I thought of you when I was in the Denver airport last month. :D Hope we can catch up sometime.

Jackie said...

Hi Mike,
We made it the first snowy weekend, but not the second. We live in Snohomish and the drive out of our neighborhood is up a steep hill...and we have an infant...with a runny nose...and we just moved here from Arizona so it does seem kind of like the apocalypse to see snow like this.

We never miss on sunny weekends or rainy weekends. All of our unsaved neighbors noticed and commented on the fact that we didn't go to church. We felt awful! I don't think it will ever happen again. We love you and OCC. Keep up the good work and don't get discouraged. We will see you next weekend, we promise!
-Christian and Jackie

Anonymous said...

Regretfully, we were also homebound in Snohomish and knowing we had to miss church was very disappointing. This is our 4th day stuck in the house. Our car parked midway in the driveway, also stuck. Hoping to be there next Sunday to worship with you!
Nancy Schwarz

Shannon said...

I love your comment - "So Jesus, I know my validation doesn’t come from attendance, but that it comes from who YOU say that I am. My value comes from the worth that YOU ascribe to me…and since worth is determined by what someone is willing to pay…and since you gave your LIFE for me on the cross…I have to conclude that my worth to you is priceless. "

This is a truth God has continued to remind of almost daily. My value is found in Him and Him alone. And what I do, I do for Him and Him alone and then God uses that and He is blessed and others are blessed, and amazingly, I am blessed.

"Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might"

"whatever you do, in word or deed, do it all for the glory of Christ."

Amen!

colleen_777 said...

Hey Mike, do not despair. Soon all the novelty (or horror) over those big, scary, white, floatie thingys will subside and we will all return to church! :o)

We, along with apparently many, missed service yesterday and I assure you- you were missed!

We did however, manage to get our butts to the local cinema for an oh-so-important viewing of The Tale of Depeareau today, and saw your beautiful wife and kiddos there.

We appreciate you and your family!

Colleen A.

Andrew said...

I was going to comment on how church yesterday was the *only* place our family has even considered going since last Wed - and we're getting low on groceries. :) But then I realized that pointing out that OCC (and you) rank about as high as it gets for us would defeat the purpose of the lesson God is trying to teach you. So, um, just pretend you didn't read this, I guess... ;)

Jodie Howerton said...

Umm, does your wife get credit for coming? Love you, babe!

neely said...

"slight chance of no weather."
Brillant!

Sarah Hager said...

Hey Mike Howerton!
You have no idea how badly I miss church.... I am going to do my best to dig out and get there for Christmas Eve.

Dulcinator said...

It's such a bummer of a feeling to miss church two weeks in a row when you aren't even doing anything but reading books by the fire, watching movies, and playing Speed Scrabble. :( But, what adds to the frustration, and, in fact, completely overshadows that, is that I had to miss church on Christmas Eve. It didn't even feel like Christmas without a Christmas Eve service attended. I have been watching the services online from my bed and lamenting not joining my wonderfully appreciated community of believers because I cannot even get my dang car out of the driveway! Know that at least we were there in spirit if we could not make it through the elements to show the attendance that would've been there for those dates! Hope to see you and the OCC family sooner than later...snow is dripping with melty bliss outside my window. Hurray!

Anonymous said...

Mike,

I understand your frustration, hang in there. Really don't understand why one could not get there on the first "snow weekend"

Loved your Christmas eve service. It was a lesson that resonated with family members who I really don't think are all that close to the lord.

Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Mike, you and OCC are fabulous. We did miss "due to weather" but was able to bring our adult son for Christmas Eve service and our daughter and her husband. We loved the message and God touched our hearts.
Hang in there...it's now "just raining" and the parking lot shuttle will be back in business.

SevenX7X said...

yeah ... good weather means attendance goes down ... bad weather means attendance goes down ... but forget to print the handouts and it goes through the roof!

We missed "due to the weather" but made it for Christmas eve.

Problem is all these fools who don't know how to drive in this makes it dangerous. Those of us who grew up in and have chains risk being targets for those who become mindless.

loisa said...

oh mike. this desperate yearning in me for a church home (home, home, home, home, home, home, home) to share life with and pour myself out to and learn among and grow into and run with and drink and dive and dig and devour Words and serve...really serve (without the fear of being emptied and dehydrated) makes me want to move to seattle for no reason than to be a part of this home you lead. it's not the right thing for me...at least right now...but know, truly, i would quite literally trudge through the snow to serve with you again.

Anonymous said...

Feels different when the shoe is on the other foot. Wasn't to long ago that We wanted a new pastor to boost attendance.

I'm sure this blog helped you by soliciting some ego building responses.