The text for our July 20 evening worship service is the story of Eutychus (Acts 20:7-12). His claim to fame was falling out of a third-story window while listening late at night to a long, boring sermon from the Apostle Paul.
Eutychus survives his fall, but only because Paul brings him back to life. “His life is in him,” Paul reassures the crowd, after cradling him in his arms.
Today there are lots of Eutychuses in the church. Like him, many are on the edge, and they fall out of the church window for all kinds of reasons. Life is busy. Our culture no longer protects Sunday, which has become a day to work, for school activities, and for sports events. People travel more on weekends.
Also, people fall out of the church window because they don’t like the worship style or the music, or because they’ve been offended, or because they’ve felt burned in some way by the church. Church shopping—and stopping—is common. And sometimes people fall out of the window because they are just simply bored.
Many churches today are trying different strategies to keep their Eutychuses at least still perched on the window sill if not in the pews—contemporary music, power point sermons, images on screens, coffee bars, tables in sanctuaries, alternate meeting places and times, pastors who roam around the platform while preaching. And sometimes these strategies work, at least for a while. But beneath these ploys to make the church more appealing and relevant, something more is needed.
The Eutychus of Acts comes back to life because his church offers him not a modern hipster worship experience, but life-giving, flesh and blood connections. The crowd notes his fall, gathers around him, picks him up. Likely some are praying. Paul holds him, and life returns to his inert body and spirit. And then the worship service, including Paul’s long sermon, continues. Eutychus’s life returns to him when he finds healing amidst a worshipping community.
How can we make healing connections with people who fall out of our church window? How can our church still “be there” for people when they slip away? How can we help our Eutychuses to discover that “their life is still in them?”