What We Hear When You Tell Us Why You Weren’t at Church

Really. We all miss church from time to time.  Life happens. Vacation happens. Illness happens. I, unlike other pastors I know, very rarely go and worship somewhere when I have a Sunday off.  I totally get that some Sunday mornings, you’d just rather stay in bed with a cup of coffee and the newspaper.

But in the interest of full disclosure, you should know how pastors feel when folks don’t show up. We can be told by our seminaries and our denominations and well-meaning writers and comforting counselors all day long that we can’t take it personally, but deep down we know that if we were really bringing it every Sunday, people would be poking each other with sticks to get in the door rather than finding reasons to stay away.

I’m probably letting the cat out of the bag and revealing an inner-snarkiness that we preacher-types like to suppress as much as possible, but (just so you’ll know), here’s what we hear when you share your excuses for being a no-show.


What you say

What Preachers Hear

We had friends in from out of town

We sure didn’t want to expose them to you people

I just really needed to catch up on sleep/I was up late last night

What you had to say was not worth my getting out of bed for

It was just such a beautiful day, we decided to hit the pool/lake/beach while we can

I only come to church when there’s not something better to do.

One of the kids is sick

And that gave the rest of us a reason not to come

I was sick.

That you were sick…until we see you out at a restaurant for dinner looking radiant.

I had homework/housework/work work

I’m totally not buying in to that Sabbath thing.

Please note that we don’t hold what we hear against you. We get that our reaction is as much about us as it is about you, and we always rejoice when you show up to worship–and probably even more so when we haven’t seen you in a few weeks. And know that our reaction to your absence isn’t totally about us. We pastor-types really do believe that our lives, our work, our relationships and even our play are stronger, richer and fuller when we take the time to gather and worship God together. And we want that stronger, richer, fuller life for you. It’s kind of why we do what we do.

–Rev. Anne Russ

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