News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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October 27, 2012

THE JOY LADY: Do we feel our presence on Sunday morning is all that’s needed?

Did you hear about that poor pastor who wanted to start a basketball league for the churches in his small town? His intentions were good. Too bad it didn’t turn out quite the way he hoped.

He told his congregation that anyone could play on the team. He advertised in the church newsletter, talked about it during the announcement time on Sunday morning, had the secretary run a blurb about it in the bulletin right under the order of service, put a sign-up sheet in the foyer.

But no names appeared on the list. No one volunteered. Finally, the pastor pleaded enough that eight people reluctantly agreed to play basketball. Gleefully, the pastor scheduled the first practice, and that’s when the real problems began.

One man told him, “Well, pastor, I don’t really care about wasting all my time on these midweek practice sessions. But if you want to put me down in the starting five on game days, I’ll be glad to help out.”

The only woman on the team said, “It’s not personal, pastor, but it’s really hard for me to be enthusiastic about much of anything since the last pastor left. We loved him so, and things just aren’t the same since he left. No offense.”

One of the younger players refused to run after the ball. He knew that someone else would surely go after it sooner or later, and if God (or the pastor) wanted him to make a play, then they would make sure the ball came to him.

Still another player complained that the games were going to last too long. “We can’t be playing all this time, pastor. If we do, the concession stand is going to close before we get there, and then where would we eat?”

Worst of all, the best player on the team refused to show up for either a practice or a game unless the pastor personally called him, each week, to invite him to show up. Once, when the pastor was too busy to call, the player told him, “I would have been there, but no one called to tell me what was going on. I would have come if you had asked.”

The pastor gave up, so discouraged with the state of his “team” that he decided to move on to another town. Last anyone heard, he was forming another church basketball league in another town. We really hope things are going better for him there.

But wait — is this really basketball we’re talking about?

Do we volunteer for things at our church only after we have been begged? Are we waiting on a personal phone call or visit from someone in order to do something we know how to do? Do we feel that our presence on Sunday morning is all that’s needed from us? Do we get upset with things go too long? Are our excuses as ridiculous as those of the pastor’s basketball players? Are we really lacking that much commitment to our churches?

Hmmmm …

Verna Davis, speaker and writer, may be reached at

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