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Messages in the pew trash

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Archives / 1989 / July



Messages in the pew trash

Fletcher L. Tink
Fletcher L. Tink is senior pastor of the Alhambra First Church of the Nazarene; co-founder of the Bresee Institute for Urban Training; adjunct faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary and Azusa Pacific University's Graduate School of Theology; and a former missionary to Bolivia.


Archeology has given us occasion and tools to examine the residue of past cultures in order to learn something about the lives of earlier man.

Now that we are running out of primary sites for digging, modern anthropologists are delicately dissecting city trash for clues about the lifestyles and worldviews of urbanites.

Hoping to be an up-to-date examiner of the times, I instructed our resident archaeologist (otherwise known as cleanup man) Leo Kolodziejczyk to keep a record of the items left in our church pews after the Sunday morning worship service.

Some weeks later he came back to me with a well-cataloged list. I thought you might be interested in what he found:


Fingernail clippings

Dirt cleaned from combs

A poster tack

The rubber heel from a lady's shoe

A piece of a comb

Cigarette butts

Burnt matches

Candy wrappers

One unused prophylactic

White thread and a needle

Tom bulletins

Tithe envelopes (on the floor)

A pornographic book

Used facial tissues

Soft drinks

One wet diaper

A small battery-operated fan

Paper airplanes

Corn chips

Rice A paperback love story

Wooden bracelets

Chewed toothpicks

Raisins Wet piece of a used cigar

Chewed gum, on sides and under pews

Shopping bag stuffed with news papers

Wire bag twister

Torn sock with dirty heel and hole in toe

Part of a car manual

Lots of torn bits of paper

Paper clips

Plaster footprints

Crumpled paper note: "Will you have lunch with me ?"

Uneaten candy drops

Empty, worn-out, plastic wallet

Lots of pencils and pens Half-eaten

Milky Way chocolate bar

Sandwich baggies

Potato chips

Numerous coins, mostly pennies


And a Bible with a used lottery ticket (a loser!) for a bookmark

I'm not sure whether our worshipers are voraciously hungry for the Word or for lunch. Or perhaps they have brought their sins and vices to the church to leave them there, or maybe they are just bored--draw your own conclusions. Sometimes I wonder if I am preaching to their real world. Are you?

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