Tuesday, February 26, 2008


More rambling.

Sunday night I went to a monthly praise and worship service at my small church. On a regular Sunday morning, there are between 25 and 30 people attending. On Sunday night? There were 5 of us. The pastor and his wife, myself and a neighbor lady and her daughter. Usually there are the two other elders in the church who attend but they had to work that night and couldn't come.

Well, 5 out of 25. That's a fifth of the congregation. God doesn't measure the worth of our church by numbers. I enjoy the time (and I think God does too) whether there are lots of people or not. But...

What is the purpose of the praise and worship evening? Praising and worshiping. Bringing people together for fellowship. Hearing a more informal message.

As one of the elders in the church, I would like more people to attend this small block of time. I like hearing the occasional testimonies (though recently the messages have mostly been mine.) I would like to chat with people in a more open atmosphere. I bring cookies. We make coffee in hopes of having a sharing hour. But there isn't a great rush of people coming on Sunday night.

How much of what we do in life is barking up the wrong tree. When does one say "OK. This isn't working. Let's try another way."?

If nothing else, while living in Japan I've learned that one has to have patience. Wives patiently wait for the husbands to come home after midnight every night. Students patiently bear with uninteresting classes. On a larger scale, laws take years and years to change, trials go into decades. Becoming accepted in a community may take generations. A favorite phrase in Japan is "Let's wait and see."

I'm not a big fan of this phrase. I've seen children with illnesses or psychological problems yet the parents and teachers and professionals say "Let's wait and see." No treatment is given. I've observed criminal behavior in the neighborhood yet after all the discussion and gossip, the decision rather than to confront is "Let's wait and see."

So what am I saying? I think I'm actually a lot more patient and accepting than many foreigners in Japan who want to scream. "This is ridiculous. Do something!" Tetsu has described it to me that America has a 200 year history. Americans are go-getters and are used to change and progress. Japan is a country with a 2000 year history. Traditions are important, customs are followed and part of being wise to let things mellow out on their own.

It is very easy to throw in the towel. It is much more difficult to start something new, especially in Japan where change isn't considered a good thing. Commitment, diligence, forbearance are much more valued qualities and whether or not all this effort produces results is not really that important.

I guess I'm the only one that ponders what could be done differently for our little praise and worship service. Others are all happy that the opportunity to attend is presented to them whether they take advantage or not.

God says that where two or three are gathered He is with us so maybe I should concentrate on praise.


Colleen formerly of South Africa said...

I loved the reference to the two or three gathered in His name.... we have gone to smaller churches usually during our marriage..by choice.It is so nice to KNOW everyone... and be able to get personal. Thanks for sharing.Loved the pic of potato soup...dd is a vegetarian...so we may have to make that for supper tomorrow. Yum...the picture made me hungry.... although had chicken corn chowder tonight. Colleen

Colleen formerly of South Africa said...

Your when oh when is coming along nicely also....can't wait for the final product. Colleen

CONNIE W said...

Not having much of a turnout for the night service does sound disappointing, but I suppose bringing about change is slow. The culture seems so different there as compared to here in US. I used to prefer the nightly services for their informality.

meggie said...

I don't in any way believe in what your believe, but I do salute your faith. I do see your intrinsic goodness.
I hug you Tanya, in admiration, & love.

The Calico Cat said...

Tetsu has described it to me that America has a 200 year history. Americans are go-getters and are used to change and progress. Japan is a country with a 2000 year history. Traditions are important, customs are followed and part of being wise to let things mellow out on their own.
I have heard that in a different context comparing the US to England - something to do with historic landmarks... It was funny...

Shelina said...

From a practical point of view, if I hardly get to see my husband because he is working until midnight on the weekdays, I would want to spend some quality family time with him.
On a Sunday night, I'd probably be scurrying to finish the laundry and get ready for the week.

Marilyn R said...

Sometimes you only have to worry about your attitude and let God worry about every one else's.

The Calico Quilter said...

Hi, Tanya, you've been tagged. I'd like to learn more about the people behind the blogs I enjoy so hope you participate. If you've already been tagged a bunch or don't feel like it, please feel free to opt out. The rules are on itsthecatshouse.blogspot.com. Thanks!

artfilstitch said...

Hi Tanya, I believe everything that you have written. You are a very kind and rich person. I am quoting a quote that my husband and I repeat many times, " A persons wealth is measured by what they give away, not what they receive". I sometimes wonder how thousands of people can pack sports stadiums, pay millions of dollars, scream, yell, jump up and down, then party all night, but can't give any time for God Their Maker. The America that I grew up in forty years ago is surely falling away from its values. Just another sign of the times I suppose. Maybe, we have too much in material things and have become too complacent...what do you think? I thank God for sending His Son, Jesus for My Redemption!
Will be thinking of you and prayers coming your way.
Keep up the Good Work, Tanya

Annette said...

Hi Tanya,
De-lurking to say Amen. Our church has an average 100-200 in attendance on Sunday morning, and only 10-15 on Sunday night. The pastor's sermons are equally good, worship is great, prayer time more interactive...but I get the feeling from people that they've put their 'time in' by going in the morning. What happened to setting the day aside for God and the worship of Him? You are right, though, where two or more are gathered, He IS there! To Him be the glory! Forever and ever!

Alena said...

Hello, Tanya!

I ran across your blog while looking for getabako on Google. I have really enjoyed reading your posts about daily life in Japan -- especially the ordinary bits like baths and toilets. I hope to visit Japan someday, so the information is very helpful.

As far as the small worship service attendance is concerned... I live in a city of about 1.5 million people, with many large churches of every possible denomination. My own church, a small non-denominational church, was without an official pastor for several years after our elderly pastor retired. We had several retired pastors and missionary pastors on the church board, so they took turns speaking each Sunday, but because we didn't have a single full-time pastor our church attendance dropped as low as 20 or 25 people on Sunday morning (which is nearly unheard of, for our area). For a while, we really wondered about the future of our assembly: No pastor seeks out a church with only a few members, and because our church was shrinking, we couldn't really afford to pay a full-time pastor.

BUT! God is faithful and good, and provides for His own. After years of prayer and searching, a pastor from South Africa moved his family all the way to America to become the full-time pastor of our church. Now our church is growing again, up to an attendance of 80 or 90, and will soon be relocating to a new area where we can grow even more.

So I've learned that it's not about the size, or about how many people attend... God will take care of those things, as He takes care of everything. Don't be discouraged by the numbers. God can do His work in just a few people as well as He can with a whole congregation. ^_^