Monday, February 04, 2013

It's Okay to Say NO! Even in Church by Rose McCormick Brandon

Many sermons manage in one way or another to relay the subtle (sometimes not so subtle) message that the people in the pew simply aren’t doing enough and anyone who is doing enough isn’t doing it well enough. These types of sermons are designed to make people feel guilty about such things as the amount of money they give, their level of church participation  and how faithful they are to church attendance.
One preacher often used this evil dig: if you love the pastor, you’ll attend church Sunday mornings; if you love the people, you’ll be at the Sunday night service too but if you love the Lord you’ll also be at Wednesday night Bible study.  A few titters came from the congregation but the jab hidden in this comment discourages people. The real message it sends is this: if you're not here every time the doors are open, you'd better feel guilty about it.
Many people arrive at church in need of encouragement. Their hearts long for God’s Word and the kindness and love of fellow believers. They’re already overwhelmed by home and job responsibilities. It's their time to receive something from the pulpit, an anointed sermon and heartfelt prayer. They also need to receive from other members of the congregation - affection, thoughtfulness and again, prayer.
They don’t need a razzamatazz of announcements that will fill their already crowded calendars. Women especially don't want to hear that ten pans of lasagna and 100 dozen cookies are needed for the following week. (Don't stores sell that stuff?) Or that a busload of teens is descending on the church and every one of them will require a billet.  And no one - man, woman or child - ever needs a drawn-out begging fest for money.
I know, I know, somebody has to do the heavy lifting in church. The question each person in the pew needs to answer is – does it need to be me?
After years of exhaustive "service to the Lord" I finally gave myself permission to say NO to many church requests – and it was one of the best things I’ve done for myself. It freed me to think about what Jesus wants me to do with my life - surely there's more to my service for God than filling in my name on endless miles of sign-up sheets.
Paul wrote in I Corinthians 7:23 - "You were bought with price - purchased with a preciousness and paid for (by Christ); then do not yield yourselves up to become (in your own estimation) slaves to men, (but consider yourself slaves to Christ). (Amplified version)
God sees me and you as individuals not as just another church member. We each have a calling from God and gifts we've received to fulfil that calling. Many pew people have greater gifts for soul-winning than pulpit people. But sadly, too many become bogged down in church-sitting and never get on with their own telling-people-about-God ministry.
When the busyness of doing church hinders our calling in Christ; when we feel more discouraged exiting the church than entering, something is wrong. And no one can fix it but us.
The best way to start the fixing process is by saying NO to things that hinder and YES to fulfilling God's call in our lives.
Rose McCormick Brandon’s articles and essays are published in magazines, books, newspapers and devotionals in Canada and the U.S. She is an award-winning writer who specializes in personal experience, faith, life stories and the British Home Child Immigration period of Canadian history. Rose is married to Doug, an investment consultant, with whom she also co-authors articles on finances. Visit her blogs: The Promise of Home ( and Listening to My Hair Grow ( Contact address: 


Peter Black said...

Oh, Rose, you write this out of much personal experience, I’m sure!
Wise is she who knows how to serve and *serve better,* by knowing when to say no, and what to say no to. (Personally, I haven't learned that adequately, yet.)
Sometimes I wonder whether I held too great expectations of members of the congregations I served (especially of my wife), although I was never demanding – at least directly (I think). Hmm.
You are so correct. There is indeed the need for God’s people to pursue the avenues of service for which He has prepared them and that He opens up to them personally.
Your point is so valid – and can easily be lost in the drive to be missional and engaged as a church (as a recognizable entity) in the larger community.
How true, that the church gathered should be a place of encouragement and comfort; a place to be built up and strengthened together in the Lord. (I’m reminded of Matthew 11:28-30 and Isaiah 40:29-31).

Anonymous said...

What a thoughtful comment Peter. I'm sure. You were mindful of others always. In my case I was too often easily persuaded to involve myself in work that eventually almost overwhelmed me. Still learning. Rose

Popular Posts