The Comfortable Pew

January 21, 2013
by Rosemary Hagedorn

Ezekiel 34:10 – Thus says the Lord God, "Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will demand My sheep from them and make them cease from feeding sheep. So the shepherds will not feed themselves anymore, but I will deliver My flock from their mouth, so that they will not be food for them." (NASB)

In 1965, Pierre Berton wrote a bestseller entitled The Comfortable Pew: A critical look at Christianity and the religious establishment in the new age. He ends the book with an optimistic prescription that a transformation is possible.

    But there seem to be two ways in which a truly Christian reformation could come about. It could come about through some terrifying persecution of the Christian Church — a persecution that would rid the Church of those of little faith, of the status-seekers and respectability-hunters, of the deadwood who enjoy the club atmosphere, of the ecclesiastical hangers-on and the comfort-searchers. Once the Church becomes the most uncomfortable institution in the community, only those who really matter will stick with it. At this point, one would expect the Church to come back to those basic principles of love, faith, and hope that have made martyrs out of men. (pp.142-3)

Jesus never sat in a comfortable pew. Jesus walked and talked and healed people. He went to them and met them outside of a building. He preached on a mountain and He preached from a boat on the sea. He used simple language that everyone could understand and relate to. He loved all who came to Him, no matter what they had done. He accepted them the way they were.

Do we dare leave our comfortable pews and venture outdoors, to love and accept people the way they are? Or do we continue to go into a building on Sunday and sit in our usual spot and in our minds say, "Feed me" — instead of feeding God's people?

John 21:17 – The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my sheep." (NIV)

Prayer: O Lord God, forgive us again for not heeding and listening to Your voice. Help us to see others as Jesus sees them. Help us to go out and serve our fellow human beings. Help us to leave our comfortable pews and reach out to a hurting and desperate world in need. Amen.

About the author:

Rosemary Hagedorn <rosyhagedorn@gmail.com>
Penetanguishene, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Amen Rosemary.


    Very powerful and convicting piece. Thank you!


    Dear Rosemary: Thank you for today’s message.


    Thank you Rosemary for such a thought provoking and inspiring message.


    Greetings,
    Thank you. God bless you.


    Rosemary, thank you for saying what really needed to be said. May I use a few of the words..with credit of course??


    Thank you for your wonderful devotional today and the message that it takes more than just appearance in the pew to be true followers of Jesus.


    Dear Rosemary,
    I really liked your devotional from today.
    Thank you for sharing.


    Dear Rosemary,
    Thanks once again for a very thought-provoking devotional.
    God bless you as you continue to use these talents for His glory.


    Oh Rosy, How I pray it won’t take persecution to refocus the church upon “feeding my sheep.” May revival leap from our pews as we rediscover “amazing grace.” Thanks for sharing. Blessings.


    Thanks Rosemary, we need to be reminded that we sit in ‘comfortable pews’.
    We must get up and get out with the gospel in this ever-changing world. The
    Church is in great need of a good shake up and ‘uncomfortable pews’. Now is the time!!
    (British Columbia)


    Good day, I want to say is a WOW and I really hope I can get a chance to share this devotion with the members in my church.
    This is so true and I do believe it happens worldwide where people sits in
    the same place Sunday after Sunday. I enjoyed this devotion today it was
    so true. Have a bless day and keep writing your inspiring devotion. God
    Bless You.
    (Trinidad)


    Well said Rosemary.
    I remember Pierre Berton’s book too and how it stirred up the establishment. The thing he missed though is that in order for God’s people get off their comfortable pews, they must ask for/and allow the moving of the Holy Spirit in their church meetings. Then they will be truly prepared to step out of their “comfort zone” to minister to the world.
    Blessings.


    Our church experienced such a cleansing in the past and we were who remained were devastated. As a result we had to totally depend on our Lord for direction. Knocked to our knees, our posture was one of prayer where we gradually gained spiritual strength to rise up on eagles wings to see our pastor direct us to trust the Lord and bear witness to God’s power to bring the young and the old with the help of new members to slowly experience a growth of strength with his encouragement to look toward hope which appeared through the fog.


    Hi Rosemary,
    Thanks for a thought-provoking submission. But I am both truthful and happy to say: As far as the comfortable pew is concerned our church has only a few old pillows to afford comfort to the members. And I am also happy to say that the people who attend our church come with only one aim in view and that is to worship our Lord and Saviour. We would welcome status-seekers, respectability hunters, and nay even offer a pillow or two to the comfort-seekers. The people who attend our services come when they do, to a place where they can feel both the love of God and the love of the congregation. When we have the passing of the peace we truly pass peace to one another.
    We also feed the poor from our meager little kitchen. But we never force anyone to come to church. Our services proceed whether we have seventy or seven. For every service we put forth the best we can.
    To be sure the statisticians predict that our church is one of a group that will be extinct by the 2030’s but we will soldier on because the only thing we have to prove is that God is Love.
    Blessings.


    I read the Daily Devotional regularly. Some appeal to me more than others. Yours today is one of them. Thank you.


    Dear Rosemary,
    This word is so very important. Your scripture shows us what will happen and, in fact, what has happened to many of our churches today.
    Yes, ministry is needed in our communities, outside of the pew, as you suggest.
    I know that for a fact as it is evident in my living situation; an assisted living facility.
    The need for ministry is almost overwhelming. Let us pray for each other that we will be given Grace to stand for our Lord when we have the opportunity with the gifts we have been given.
    Blessings.

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