John Corson's Blog

for October 4, 2020

No Sleep and My Church

I couldn't sleep at all last night!

Say, isn't that the opening line from a 1961 oldies song by Bobby Lewis? Yep, it was called "Tossin' and Turnin'" and boy was I doing a lot of that.

Normally, when you can't sleep you either have a guilty conscience, had a lot on your mind and your brain didn't shut down, or, in my case, two cats and a dog curled up on me, against me and in between my legs so I couldn't move one inch. They think they own the bed and we merely are given a few precious inches to sprawl out on.

The pets weren't the only issue. My mind was racing, mostly about what to fill these pages with. I want to do a cool menu other than a plan one at the top. I want to make it easy to move from blog page to blog page without the clutter. How about hot buttons? What about titling each blog? What am I going to say about myself and the family under those two pages? All of this and a lot more poured through my tired brain.

Another thing that goes through my mind each Saturday night while trying to doze off into la-la land in Church. Yeah, that's right. Every pastor I know thinks about and, many times, worries about the service they will be conducting the next day. Who is going to be there? Will all the workers show up? Have the musicians rehearsed and will they be on key? How will the sermon go across and will it be received well? Or, in my case, will I get all the preliminary things done from setting up the video display, checking on the mail (since many are sending their offerings to church instead of attending due to Covid-19), and the many other things that go into worship preparations.

Yep, it's Sunday. And how did it go for me at church? It's always busy before the service, so I arrive at least an hour before anyone else (except maybe the musicians). Today, we held the service outdoor because it is the only way I can get all my people together. Many don't want to go inside, even with a mask on and social distancing. So, we transmit via an FM transmitter to those who stay in their vehicles and anyone within three-tenths of a mile which is in reception distance. 40 people showed up! This is good, although not great.

I pastor an older congregation. The average age is 65!! We have no children or youth programs anymore as we have no willing workers! Those who would work and lead are all "retired" and in their 60's 70's or 80's. We lost the last of our children about 3 years ago. The decline in our youth started a year or so before I arrived on scene (2011). We picked up a few kids here and there, but for all practical purposes it never took hold.

We started an AWANA's program back in the fall of 2015, got it off the ground by utilizing the children who attended our day care program (only 3 or 4 kids were regular attendees of the church whereas the rest were placed there for the care of the kids who were not old enough to stay home or come home from school by themselves). Our AWANA's leader was one of the teachers at the day care and just before kicking off the program, became a member of the church. She was different and many of the older folk in the church thought she was too bossy and showed little respect for "her elders." On June 5, 2016 we had our closing program during the worship service at which over 55 kids attended. We had fun, games, a cook-out and other kinds of fun after church. Little did we know that that would be the last time we would have that many kids attend a child/youth-oriented event. 

Later that summer on August 7 thru 11 we had our Annual Vacation Bible School, an event shared with the Christian Church across the way. Between the two churches, we had an average of 60 kids each night. The theme for the week was Cave Quest and all the workers decorated the rooms, hallways and even the church sanctuary as if we were in caves - complete with bats, paper rocks and stalagmites hanging from the walls. The kids had a blast.

Then came the time to re-start AWANA. You see AWANA is a program that runs from September thru the end of May each year. Our AWANA leader could not persuade any to be teachers or assistant leaders and the helpers were few. She became discouraged, I became discouraged, and we didn't restart the program. She, then, resigned as youth leader and she and her two children left the church.

As far as Vacation Bible School was concerned, my church and the church across the street took turns hosting it and in 2017 it was the Christian Church's time as host. Little did we know that it would be the last time we would have VBS. Again, no workers. All were "too tired" and most would say: "I have done my part." "I did it for 30, 40 or 50 years." "Let someone else step up to the plate." But there was no one else.

So, my church suffers from "retirement syndrome." Too tired to work and almost too old to attend church. Covid has been no help. My workload is different. In addition to administrative duties, attending meetings of various committees and teams, contacting the sick, homebound and visitors, I have had to add audio/video duties to my plate. We have had to stream our services through Facebook, YouTube and on our website, broadcast our services via FM transmitter to those outside and staying in their homes and other such undertakings. In addition, our church was in the process of incorporating when the Coronavirus hit and because our Trustees were all over 65 and not wanting to get out (not to mention the lawyers office was closed a lot as were the courts), I had to undertake working with the attorney one-on-one in his office or by zoom video conferencing. He and I wrote and rewrote the church constitution and bylaws, incorporated the church and are now in the process of turning the property over to the church as a whole. Under a Trusteeship, the church is technically and legally owned by the Trustees. They hold the deeds, and they are the ones who would be held liable if something terrible were to happen. Incorporation means the whole church holds the deeds.

It's been a busy year, thanks to Covid. Going to church means more work for me, not worship as much. And that is sad - to say the least.

My church started to dwindle probably back in 1993. There was a pastor there who was young, on fire and a "go-getter." He started the daycare ministry and reached out to the community, especially to those families with small children and teens. But something happened. He, along with the preceding two pastors, was asked to leave. There was a petition circulated to have the pastor recalled. The two before him were treated to the same act. Each of these pastors lasted 2 and a half years! The last one went almost 3. When he left, fifty other people left as well, and many went to the Christian Church across the street. That day in June 1993, we lost 75 percent of our youth and the budget was cut in half. We never regained the luster.

You may wonder what became of those who circulated the petition. Well, the next pastor that came along was a well-regimented former Army sergeant who was a real boss and was very much Obsessive-Compulsive. His first sermon in 1994 was too the point. He told everybody present that Sunday that we was very much aware of the goings-on from the last three ministries and he explicitly said that there would be no petitions for his removal ever and that he knew who the culprits were. He went on to say that if anyone tried to start a petition, he would personally gather the deacons together, name name's and would have them disfellowship (the Christian term for excommunication) from the church and their names removed from the roll. Two of those people left the church after that message.

The Army Pastor left after three years there -- of his own free-will, I might add, and the church has been looking to each other as if to say, "What do we do now?" There really hasn't been any leadership since 1997 and the number of "working deacons" has dwindled down to two as of this writing. We have six deacons, but one is permanently out (concerned over leaving his house due to covid), one is too busy with his business and is very much uncommitted, two are in their eighties and are very slow these days. One, who lives across the street from the church, holds every leadership office (Moderator, Chairman of the Board and now Corporate President), and one is our custodian and takes care of all the building and grounds and does a fine job at that - but he is having some health issues.

Well, enough about the church. I just wish I could permanently borrow about six workers and four families from the "new" church that meets in the school building. They started with seven people (all family members) in the garage of a house and have grown to nearly 1000 in less than eight years. They averaged 300 in Vacation Bible School last year and although covid has socked them some, they have just purchased over 35 acres of land -- free and clear of debt. They are anticipating erecting a building which would house over 1500 for worship in an all-purpose area which would double for meals, concerts, plays and basketball! It will also have classrooms, a bowling alley, swimming pool, outdoor tennis courts, ball fields and more. What is so intriguing here is that most of the elderly people in the community lose their hearing, albeit temporarily, while attending their services. With 6 to 9 guitars, a couple of bass players, keyboards and drums (they have 5 drummers attending there -- Hey send me one! Send me a guitarist too, please), most of the ole folks get ringing in their ears for hours. Some love to attend my church as we are more traditional, sing songs they have heard before and don't overdo the praising with dancing, clapping, shouting and singing 7-11 choruses (you know, the ones where you sing 7 words 11 times).

Janice and I got home this afternoon, a little later than usual. I had a quick deacons meeting after the services and that held me up a little. Covid has done a couple of things which have turned out to be somewhat of a blessing. One of which is that it has cut down on the number and length of meetings I have to attend.

When we got home, we ate some chicken noodle soup and a grilled cheese sandwich and then I retired to my office and prattle on about my last 15 hours. And here is the finished project.

Until next time!

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Blogs are about the blogger. It's as if he or she merely toots their own horns about the things they do, say and love.

My life is boring. I read, I watch Glenn Beck and Mark Levin. I listen to Andrew Wilkow. I engage in some conversation with those who are willing to listen (they being masochistic and enjoy killing themselves with my banter).

I plan on just laying out the things that bother me and the things I love. Nothing in-between. I hope you find whatever I put here amusing.