I had not been at Pine Ridge very long before I learned we had a church dog. He was and is one of our most faithful attendees, showing up at church almost every Sunday whether it was hot, cold, rainy, or sunny, and especially showing up when there was food involved. He always came with his tail wagging, glad to see anyone and everyone regardless of who they were. We didn’t know where he came from or whose he was so we just called him “church dog.” We even received a Christmas card from the “church dog’s” owner with a contribution to the church! It turns out that “church dog” lives across the highway from the church and his “real name” is Major. “Church dog” could be the ideal church member because he is always there, loves everyone, and even contributes.
A few weeks ago, at the other church I serve, Tangipahoa UMC, a beautiful black and white cat showed up as we were getting ready for worship. He was very sweet and friendly, and cried at the door during worship because we wouldn’t let him in. After worship, we picked him up, passed him around, petted him, scratched him, and loved all over him. We haven’t seen him since.
This got me thinking (always dangerous) about the differences between church dogs and church cats. Church dogs show up regularly with a good attitude, wagging their tail to welcome others, ready to serve and contribute. Church cats, on the other hand, show up when they have a need, when they need to be scratched and petted and make a lot of noise about being in church. Like all analogies, this one has its limits, but I couldn’t help wondering which one we are more like- the church dog or the church cat.