Although the following story about "back row Baptists" did not actually happen, it’s still my favorite:
A certain Baptist church was building a new worship center, and the pastor saw it as an opportunity to eliminate his frustration with people sitting in the back. He shared his idea with the contractor, who was also a member of the church. The contractor agreed to the preacher’s secret plan, but in return, the preacher had to promise to stay out of the building until he finished, and let him do the rest of the construction the way he wanted.
This was hard, but the pastor agreed to stay away until opening day.
The first Sunday arrived to open the new building to worshipers. When the first people arrived and entered the sanctuary, they were surprised to see a blank floor where normally there were pews, and only one pew against the back wall. They sat in the back pew.
When more people came in, they joined the others on the back pew, and filled it up. When the pew was full, something went "click" and the pew slid forward and locked in place at the front, and a new pew popped up in the back. When that pew was filled, it also slid to the front and another pew popped up in the back. This continued until the congregation was crowded close together into the front pews.
When the preacher got up to the pulpit to preach, he could hardly contain himself with excitement. All of the people were packed together up front. It looked great! He preached and preached his heart out. But when 12 noon came, something else went "click," a trap door opened behind the pulpit, and the preacher disappeared!
This tall tale has a short lesson: that all of us have something we wish was better in our church. The preacher wishes the people would be more enthusiastic and sit up front, and the people wish the preacher would not preach long sermons. So some people just stay away from church.
Yet the Bible encourages Christians to gather and worship, "not staying away from our meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near" (Hebrews 10;25, HCSB).
So let’s have the attitude of the psalmist who said, "I was glad when they said unto me, "Let us go into the house of the Lord.’" (Psalm 122:1, KJV) Who knows? If you go, you may see a pew move, or better yet, you may see God move among you!
(Copyright 2013 by Bob Rogers. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Read this column each Friday in the Herald. Visit my blog at www.bobrogers.me.)