Reserved Holiday Pews? SERIOUSLY? [bad.hack]

Is The Onion on this?  Is this National Lampoons ?  Or Landover Baptist ?  Or the Daily Show ?

Check this out: German Politicians want holiday pews reserved for regular congregants, not the holiday-only attendees. Yes, it's true!

Politicians from the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the liberal Free Democrats (FDP) told Tuesday's daily Bild newspaper it was unfair if regular attendants of church services couldn't find a seat at Christmas.

"I support making services on December 24 open only to those who pay their church tax," a member of the CDU board in the south-western state of Baden-Württemberg, Thomas Volk, told the mass-market daily. Germans pay church tax along with their income tax unless they opt out.

The head of the FDP's parliamentary group in Berlin, Martin Lindner, said it was intolerable that in the past, active members of church congregations - often the elderly - had been forced to stand through the Christmas service because the pews were full.

"Church tax payers should not be kept outside during such important services," he said. "Church members should be given tickets, for example, to give them priority seating."

A few short thoughts:

  1. Thank God for a non-national church in America.  This way no politician can tell me what to do with my parish.
  2. Church attendance is a privilege, not a right.
  3. My favorite shorthand for holiday parishioners is CEOs (Christmas-Easter-Only's).  Har har har...whew.
  4. First shall be last, last shall be first anyone?
Luckily, the Churches themselves have their heads on straight:
"We should not be giving the impression that there is a two-class society in the church," said Stefan Foerner, spokesman for Berlin's Roman Catholic Archbishop. "Jesus would not ask whether someone paid their church tax or is baptised."


Mary December 22, 2008 at 3:38 PM  

We have people that regularly attend our church that are anti CEOs (they don't attend on Christmas or Easter) in order to make room for the non regulars.

I just figure I have to remember to get to church 30 minutes early on Christmas Eve and Easter.

That Neil Guy December 22, 2008 at 6:01 PM  

My boss and his wife recently quit going to the Jewish Temple they attended because of this issue: folks who did not pay their monthly dues were not allowed to attend services on the high holy days. I continue to be flabbergasted by this practice -- not only the turning away of folks who haven't paid up, but also the forced tithing. They're sent bills every month that they must pay to be members of the temple.

chris December 22, 2008 at 9:28 PM  

Slightly off topic, but on the subject of CEO's...

A couple of years ago, I crunched our attendance data with a perl script and learned some interesting things.

It turns out there are very few true CEO's. What happens is that the median good attender only shows up 50-75% of the time. 90% attenders are really,
really rare.

This sounds low, but think about it. You visit family in another town, go on a mission trip, camping, visiting your old college, maybe some weeks you sleep in (what, me? never!), and you're losing weeks pretty quickly.

So on a normal week, the church is only getting maybe 65-70% of the active members. But on Easter and Christmas Eve, you get ~all~ of the active members
and ~all~ of the semi-active members, plus an incredibly tiny number of true CEO's, all in the same week.

At least this is how it works at my church, a moderately large mainstream UMC. I'd be very interested to find out if this holds up everywhere.

This really surprised me when I figured it out, and though I'm neither a pastor nor gifted at evangelism, it seems this might have some implications for how we
handle the holiday services.

If you're interested in stuff like this, leave a comment and maybe we can swap email addresses through Jeremy.

Dan December 23, 2008 at 12:50 AM  

@Chris - you are exactly right. That is a little known and understood truth that you bring to light.

@Jeremy - I love this post. It reminds me of a friend who went by the big Cathedral in New Orlean's Jackson Square. The Cathedral had a sign on the door that read, "Church Service in Progress. Do Not Enter."

The_Light's_Herald January 20, 2009 at 9:55 AM  

I think this is where the words "It is more blessed to give than to receive" apply. Let the non-regulars sit on the front and the regulars at the back. Afterall, Christians who holds grudges just because of seats are either false converts or still babes in the faith.

Remember Jesus preached that it is wiser to sit at a place of lesser honor than sit at a dignified place only to be removed? Same with believers, we should learn to have a heart of CHRIST's servanthood not the Me-first identity

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