One Sunday afternoon, as we were driving home from church, my son told me that he wasn't going back to Sunday School anymore. Notice that he didn't ask for my permission to stop attending Sunday School. He simply and matter of factly told me he wasn't going back. I explained to him that, as his father, I had two "must-dos." One, he would have to go to worship and two, he would have to be involved in a Bible study.

But he was adamant. He wasn't going back to Sunday School. He was willing to be punished every Sunday, but he wasn't going back. (You have to understand my son. He was a little on the dramatic side. He suffered his punishment like he was a political prisoner. He was always willing to die for his cause... whatever the cause was for that day.) After a long evening of discussion, he finally agreed to try out an adult Sunday School class.

The teacher, one of my good friends, understood where my son was coming from. He, the teacher, had been bored as a young man and welcomed my son to his class. Over the next few years, this teacher became a very important mentor to my son.

I remembered that story yesterday when I was talking to a group of pastors. Most of them were bemoaning the fact that attendance hasn't returned to pre-COVID-19 levels. Everyone was tossing around program ideas and sermon topics they thought would bring back the crowds. When they finally looked at me, I said, "You're reading this all wrong. People haven't left the faith. They're just bored with church".

The pandemic didn't break anything, but it showed us where things were broken. The health care system was broken before COVID-19. Social support systems were broken before the pandemic. Their weaknesses were only revealed by COVID-19, not caused by it.

Church is the same way. People were losing interest long before the pandemic. When the quarantine gave them a reason to stay home, they found out they weren't missing that much. When most people evaluated their church experiences, they found out they missed their groups, but not much else. The music? They could get that on the internet. The sermon? Some of the best preachers in the world can be found on various websites. Why go to church? Because I want to see my friends.

When people started evaluating their time commitments as they began their post-pandemic life, they no longer found church attendance valuable. They can watch online. They can view it whenever they have time. They really don't need to be there.

Jesus asked His followers for their lives. Sharing the good news was more important than anything -- even living. They were to preach, heal the sick, cast our demons, and yes, raise the dead. The assignment was overwhelming.

Us? We ask our church members to attend. That's it. Just show up once a week and that's all your local church requires of you. People do all kinds of marvelous things during the week. They buy and sell businesses. They do the work reserved for advanced degrees. They tear down and repair complex machinery. They solve problems of international importance. They start new businesses.

Then, they come to church, and we ask them to come and sit.

They're bored.

They want to be called to something great. Our people want to see something God-sized in their lives. They want to see resurrection power. They want to be overwhelmed as God moves in their lives, neighborhoods, and world.

There are hungry children. Call your church to feed them.

There are children who need mentors and tutors.

There are young people who, because of the side of the street they were born on, have no chance.

Our world is burning down and we're calling our people to be spectators.

They want to be more than this. God is calling them to be more.

As the Civil War began, families followed their new armies and set up picnics around the First Battle of Bull Run. These spectators were almost trampled to death as the Union army retreated from the field. Battlefields don't have bleachers.

Maybe our people will come back to church when there is a fight worth fighting, a mission that demands their lives. When pastors once again call people to give their lives for a cause worth dying for.

But if you're only asking them to come and sit, our congregations are finding they're more comfortable sitting at home.