Christmas is just around the corner! For those of us in ministry, it means we are in the midst of a busy season. The preparation, while extremely powerful, can be very draining on ministry leaders and their families.
This is also one of those times of year when we start seeing a slight increase in worship attendance. Christmas Eve and Easter brings out folks who maybe only make it to church once or twice a year.
In Christian circles, these irregular church attenders are often referred to as “Chreasters”. Let’s be honest, that’s a pretty derogatory term. It probably reveals that we don’t really appreciate having the Chreasters join us on Christmas Eve and Easter.
Continuing in the spirit of honesty, we don’t appreciate Chreasters because Chreasters impose on our normal ways of doing things. For example:
- They park in our parking sports (meaning we might have to park farther away)
- They sit in our pews/chairs (meaning we might have to sit on the other side of the sanctuary)
- They dress too informal (meaning they don’t take things seriously enough)
- They dress to formal (meaning they take things too seriously)
- They don’t understand how we do things (meaning they don’t respect our traditions)
- They don’t know the difference between the Bible and the hymnal
- They don’t have the Lord’s Prayer memorized
- They sit when we’re supposed to stand
- They stand when we’re suppose to sit
- They made the sign of the cross
- They don’t make the sign of the cross
- They don’t sing our songs
- They are only here to make grandma happy
- They are only here to get right with Jesus so the Santa or the Easter Bunny will give them what they want
- They will only be here this week and then it will be back to “normal”
- Well, it’s nice to have a full church today, but it will be depressing next week
And, the list could go on and on. We’ve all seen it. We’ve all heard the comments. We’ve seen the exchange of dirty looks when someone does something on the above list. We know the apprehension good church folk have when it comes to Chreasters (or “new” folks in general). Heck, plenty of ministry leaders have pretty poor attitudes when it comes to Chreasters too!
But me, I love the Chreasters!
We live in a day and age where fewer and fewer people have even a remote desire to be involved with anything religious. We live in a day when the “build it and they will come” projects are no longer as effective as they may have been 20-50 years ago. We live in a day where our “Christian” nation is becoming a larger and larger mission field. We live in a day where pastors and laity alike have to become missionary in mindset and action.
So, I love the Chreasters! However, I’m sad because they are actually diminishing in number.
At least with the Chreasters we have one or two shots each year to share the hope, life, joy, grace, mercy, peace, and love of Jesus on our own turf. That’s one or two more chances than we generally get with the unchurched and dechurched populations in our communities. Therefore, we should really make the most of it!
We should celebrate the fact that there are folks out there who still believe it’s important to go to church…even if it is only once or twice a year.
We should celebrate that they broke their normal routine to share part of their day with us!
We should go beyond radical hospitality when it comes to our Chreasters!
We should realize that this is a huge opportunity…because maybe, just maybe this year something will click and they will see the value in the community and worship life of the church!
Maybe we church folk should spend the next couple of weeks praying for the Chreasters…praying for our churches…praying that we won’t be jerks when the Chreasters do something on the list above…praying that all who join our churches in worship (on any given Sunday) will feel welcome, wanted, and experience God in a powerful way.
Oh, how I love Chreasters. I hope you do too!
This post originally appeared on the Tuesdays with Morris site.