How Should a Pastor Respond When Someone Says They Probably Won’t be at Church Sunday?

WHAT THEY SAY: “There’s a chance we won’t be at church Sunday.”

WHAT I HEAR: “We won’t be at church Sunday.”


Typically people skip church without saying anything before, during, or after the skipping. You are left to peruse Facebook for the details of what they were up to. They’re probably just out having fun with the family. Or they have left your church in a huff and you’ll never see them again. One or the other.

If someone goes out of their way to say to you, “We might not be at church Sunday.” The only reason they are saying this is because they will not be there. When people hint at not being at church, that’s them telling you they won’t be there.

Incidentally, when people say “We will see you at church Sunday,” They probably won’t be there either.

Look, no one is going to be at church Sunday.

Just give up on that.

Content yourself with preaching to those nice quiet chairs that faithfully show up every Sunday. They never complain. They don’t open cellophane wrapped candies. They don’t get up in the middle of your finest sermon point to go to the bathroom. They don’t do that stupid crouching walk across the front of the church in an effort to avoid distracting people, which results in the oddest walk ever, which distracts absolutely everyone, so instead of repenting they are thinking, “People who duck to avoid getting attention actually seem to get a lot of attention.” Empty chairs don’t show up late. They don’t spill coffee on the carpet. They don’t cough and hack and blow loogies. They just sit there patiently and quietly, waiting for you to wrap it up so they can go back to whatever it is chairs do in the dark.

No one will be there Sunday. You preach for an audience of one. Your wife, cuz that’s the only person who will be there.

She won’t like the sermon either. The way you pronounced “discern” really annoyed her.

When people tell me there’s a chance they won’t be at church Sunday, here’s the response I want to give:

“Hey, you know what? There’s a chance I won’t be at church either. Maybe I’m sick and tired of it. Maybe I’d rather go spend time with God in the woods alone instead of in this church alone. Maybe I want to sleep in too. Maybe I’d like a day where I didn’t have to go anywhere in the morning too. Maybe I’d like to go do a thing with my kids.

“Hey, you know what? Maybe we should just shut the church down and just sleep every Sunday. It would free up my whole week, not having to prepare a sermon or anything. I could maybe enjoy time with my family or take up a hobby. Who knows, maybe even go on vacation or something.

“You might not be at church Sunday? Cool. Glad to hear it. Hope you have fun enjoying the things of this world as you slowly slip into everlasting destruction. Have a nice time.”

That’s what I want to say. Instead, here’s what I say when people tell me there’s a chance they won’t be at church Sunday:

“Bummer. I hope you can make it.”



And the servant of the Lord must not strive;
but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient
–2 Timothy 2:24

5 thoughts on “How Should a Pastor Respond When Someone Says They Probably Won’t be at Church Sunday?

      1. Our senior pastor is retiring this autumn so the annoyance factor will be cut by 50%. Do I trust the call committee to do the right thing and focus on pronunciation? To quote Han Solo: I have a bad feel about this.


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