For the next several weeks, Eric and I will not be attending church. It’s not because we’re lazy, and it’s not because we don’t think church is important – it’s because we’ve specifically decided not to sit in the sermon series.
Let me make myself clear. We love our church, and we think it’s good and healthy for people to be involved in a community of other believers for multiple reasons – encouragement, accountability, growth, etc. We personally don’t attend church to hear the preaching. It’s great to be taught Scripture, but we attend church to meet with God and fellowship with other believers. However, sometimes (very rarely) it’s important to know whether or not a specific sermon series will be damaging. For us, that’s these next few weeks.
Two weeks ago, our church started a sermon series on parenting. This comes right on the heels of my previous post on how Eric and I may never have our own children. Do I think parenting is a great topic? Absolutely. I think a church needs to be involved in that area of people’s lives. But here’s my issue: it’s extremely, extremely alienating to those who aren’t in that specific stage of life. I truly believe our church had every good intention in doing this sermon series, but Eric and I both agree that this topic is best left out of a Sunday message. Why? Because the congregation comprises SO many more people than just parents and more than just the ones who don’t want to have kids.
A couple weeks ago, I looked around at our congregation from the back row and wondered what kind of stories people have. There could definitely be many people who don’t want to have children, and thus don’t have a problem with a parenting sermon, even if they can’t really relate to it. But what about those people who desperately want kids but can’t have them? What about those people who have had multiple miscarriages? What about those people who have had their children pass away? What about those people whose children are grown and they didn’t parent them in the specific way that’s being preached about?
My heart aches especially for those who want kids but can’t have them. Though I don’t want kids at the moment, I have a small taste of what it feels like, and it’s awful. A Sunday sermon series would only bring that pain into full view, and I absolutely believe that it would be way more damaging that constructive for those people.
I can’t say for sure how I would react to listening to a parenting series, but I don’t want to take the chance. It not only doesn’t apply to us, but it also could cause that pain to intensify.
Let me say again – I think it’s very important for churches to be involved in the parenting aspect of people’s lives. However, I absolutely don’t believe it should be talked about on a Sunday morning, simply because there are a multitude of different stories and situations that people come from. To assume that all (or even the majority) of the congregation would benefit from that series is dangerous and, again, damaging. I think it’s a phenomenal topic to offer an evening class on so that those whose lives it applies to can choose to participate.
Eric and I really, really love our church. We love the people we’re getting to know, and we love the fact that we’re starting to get involved. But sometimes there are moments in which we disagree with the church (and I think this happens with everyone), and we have to do what’s healthiest for us.
We’ll certainly be back in church when the next series is started, but this is one that we have chosen to say, “No” to.