Magazine article The Christian Century

Sunday Morning America

Magazine article The Christian Century

Sunday Morning America

Article excerpt

PART OF THE continuing education for religious leaders of all types ought to involve occasional Sunday mornings spent not in church but observing the way that an increasing percentage of Americans spend their Sunday mornings. I came upon this idea some years ago when I found myself at home on a Sunday with reasons not to show up at church, since everyone was expecting me to be away.

Because it was a beautiful spring morning I decided to take a bike ride on Chicago's lakefront. I found that the sun had already brought out swimmers, walkers, runners and bikers. I observed family picnics that displayed the city's ethnic diversity. I saw people playing volleyball, children playing in the sand and grandmothers reading the newspaper.

This experience verified for me the enormous social change that has occurred in my lifetime--the move from Sunday as a day reserved for church to Sunday as a day reserved for leisure and family activities. I saw what the church is up against when it opens the church doors on a spring Sunday morning in hopes that people will choose church instead of the lakefront. As Tome Dawson, in Jason Byassee's article on LifeChurch in this issue, says, "Our competition is not other churches. Our competition is Disney"--and many other forms of entertainment.

The minimal conclusion I drew from my bike ride was that at the very least we ought to ensure that the people who elect to spend Sunday mornings in church encounter a service that is carefully and creatively planned and hear sermons that give evidence of a preacher who has taken the responsibility to preach seriously. …

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