Let them sleep in!

A (mostly) tongue-in-cheek rant

I have a little rant I need to get out of my system this morning.

I know it seems silly, but for some reason it struck a nerve this week…

What’s with all the “don’t be late for church” Daylight Saving Time memes?

I know they seem cute and clever and harmless.

A year ago, I probably thought the same.

But after 12 months of online worship, pre-recorded services, and learning how to do everything differently, how is reminding people to set their clocks back an hour so they get to church on time supposed to be helpful?

I get that there’s no ill intent. I understand that by posting those memes nobody is intentionally trying to shame anyone. I know it’s just supposed to be amusing.

But honestly, after a year of pandemic restrictions, don’t people deserve to sleep in on one stinking Sunday?

What have we learned?

I know this seems like a petty thing to rant about. And mostly, just so you know, I’m posting this with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek. I hope none of my friends and colleagues who may have shared such things feel attacked by this…honestly, it’s not about you. Please don’t take it personally. I’m just trying to make a point.

But here’s the thing…with all the adapting churches have done to make themselves more accessible to more people through online formats, why on earth would we fall back (see what I did there?) to the trope that church only happens at a particular time in a particular place?

If we’ve been making our services available to people through Facebook, YouTube, telephone, or some other digital platform, what’s the difference if they participate at 11am, noon, 4pm, midnight, or sometime later in the week?

For a year now we’ve been telling people that online worship is every bit as legitimate as live worship. But as churches are starting to reopen for in-person services just as we’re changing the clocks, do those goofy memes—however unintentionally—reinforce the message that “real church” is only what we do in the building on Sunday morning?

Okay Boomer…

Listen, when those Vincent Price memes about the horror of being late for church—and others like it—first made the rounds a few years ago, I thought they were hilarious. A year later they were still kind of funny. The next year, mildly witty.

But now, I’ve got to ask…is that all we’ve got?

One of the reasons that churches have been losing people…especially young people…is that we so often stay so firmly stuck in the past.

While those tried-and-true images and messages still raise a chuckle from the Baby Boomers and early GenXers in your congregations, Millenials and GenZ folks are barely raising an eyebrow.

I mean, do we not realize that there are at least two full generations of Americans that have never once in their lives had to change a clock because their digital devices do it for them?

A little self-awareness goes a long way

Again, please take all this in the spirit it’s intended.

But this is the part of this whole rant that I want us to take seriously:

We’ve got to be more aware of the things we do that actively turn people off.

Maybe I’m just more sensitive to it since what I do is to help connect people in community after they’ve been hurt, rejected, traumatized, or just plain exhausted by institutional religion.

But for the life of me I can’t figure out why some of us don’t just stop digging when we can clearly see we’re in a hole.

I know, maybe I’m overreacting.

But at least it’s a reaction.

Time to get out of the shaming business

I think the point I’m trying to get across really has less to do with Daylight Saving Time memes than it does with the lack of simple self-awareness that many of us seem to have about how people in the world beyond our walls perceive us.

About how we so often don’t even think about whether something that appears cute and funny on the surface is really as harmless as we presume.

And frankly, about whether we should be in the business of shaming people—even humorously—to remember to do something as simple as reset their clocks?

If someone wants to stay in bed and not lose an hour of sleep this weekend, let them stay in bed. If they miss church live, they can watch it later online. Or not.

I’m pretty sure nobody’s going to be scandalized by it.

See you Sunday…eventually.

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