What I Need Is Jesus.

Mainline Protestantism needs to make church matter again.

Dennis Sanders


Image by hugolein from Pixabay

Sunday is always hard for me as a pastor.

Maybe that’s unbelievable to some of you. Shouldn’t a pastor love going to church? Isn’t that your job?

It’s hard because I’ve had to learn how to manage my expectations which is incredibly hard, especially as we start to open things back up after a year of not meeting in person.

I’ve been pastor at my congregation now for about 8 years and it feels at times that we have not grown. People come to visit but never stay. It could be the building which is in bad shape. It could be where it’s located, at the corner to two roads somewhat hidden from view. But it’s hard not to wonder if the problem is me. Are people uncomfortable going to a church that has a black man as a pastor? I don’t know.

Or maybe it has nothing to do with race at all. I sometimes wonder if there is something about me that keeps people away. There is a belief that persons on the autism spectrum make others uncomfortable. Over the years, I’ve noticed people just don’t come to initiatives I’ve set up, no matter how I write the invite online or even if I try to meet with people in person. Maybe I need to do this more. I guess I wish that if I’m doing things wrong people would tell me so that I can correct them.

But maybe the problem is me in one specific way: I haven’t told people why church matters, why people need to belong to a church community and why they ultimately need Jesus.

I’m not doing that because I’m a bad pastor. In fact, I am being a pretty good mainline Protestant pastor.

One of the problems with mainline Protestantism over the years is that pastors and other people have internalized certain beliefs that have taken the fire out of the faith. We’ve been so afraid of being pinned as evangelicals that we minimize the important aspects of faith that I think people are dying to hear.


I’ve internalized the not talking as much about sin. I internalized not talking about the need for grace. I internalized not talking about the fact that none of us is “okay.” I…



Dennis Sanders

Middle-aged Midwesterner. I write about religion, politics and culture. Podcast: churchandmain.org newsletter: https://churchandmain.substack.com/