Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Church Attendance Isn't What It Used to Be

Our attendance on a Sunday morning has decreased some, but the number of people who are a part of our church hasn't. What gives? Several of the people who are a part of our church don't come as much as they used to.

Some people won't show for weeks at a time, and then we'll see them a bit. Some seem to be on an every-other-week schedule now.

I don't think that's healthy. I remember when Sara and I moved to Illinois. The day after we moved, I decided we wouldn't go to church that morning. We were too tired. We needed to get settled into our apt. Etc. (And this after God had worked several minor miracles to get us to Illinois in the first place!) I wouldn't make that decision now. I would go to church.

As a pastor, I pretty much have to be at church every Sunday. But even if I weren't, here would be my approach: I'd be in church, along with my family, every Sunday I could be, barring illness.
When a kid is sick, he should definitely stay home, for his own sake and the sake of others. As it turns out, given the nature of my relationship with our church, Sara always stays home with the sick kid (if they're too young to be by themselves). There's been times when she's missed 3 Sundays in a row as illnesses get passed around from kid to kid to her.

Corporate worship to me is more than just spending time with other like-minded believers. It is that, but it's spending time with other believers for a purpose (or several purposes). We gather together to edify one another, to build one another up in the faith.

A couple verses in tandem are key for me here: "But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness" (Heb 3:13). "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching" (Heb 10:25).

The world around us, the daily grind, the secular people around us who are more passionate about the Superbowl or the latest video game or last night's reality TV show episode than Christ--these wear on our faith and are constantly working to shift our focus from spiritual eternal realities to earthly ephemeral ones. Being with God's people recharges our spiritual batteries (as do other things, like being in the Scriptures and prayer, etc.).

But even more than that, ultimately I go to corporate worship once a week for God, not for me. We gather together to worship him publicly. Worship is about him; it's about what he's done. He's done so much for us--everything--that we get up, get ready, scrape the windshield, drive to church, sit in the pew and worship--sing to him, pray to him, give to him, attend to his Word as it is read and as it is preached.

The Sabbath is to be different than the other days; it is to be "unto the Lord." The Israelites were to use it to remember their great redemption--when God brought them out of Egypt. We also use it to remember our redemption--when God atoned for our sins and reconciled us to himself through Christ.

He is my Master; I am his servant. He is my Savior; I am the one he saved. What right do I have to take a Sunday off and not come before him to worship as he has asked? What an affront?! What does that say to him?

Illness takes you out of the game. But you don't come to worship to sleep in? To hang out with the family? (Bring the family with.) To go to Cedar Point?

Church attendance is important. That's my take on it anyway.


Anonymous said...

(Source was from the news paper years ago, Kent, but I do not know who wrote it originally.) --Dad

To make it possible for everyone to attend church this Sunday, we are going to have a special “NO EXCUSE SUNDAY.”
*Cots will be placed in the vestibule for those who say “Sunday is my only day to sleep in.”
* We will have steel helmets for those who say “The roof would cave in if I ever came back to church.”
* Blankets will be furnished for those who think the church is too cold.
* Fans are being made available for those who think it’s too hot.
* We will have hearing aids for those who say the pastor speaks too softly.
* Cotton is available as you walk in for those who think the pastor and the praise band is too loud.
* Score cards can be obtained from the ushers for those wishing to list all the hypocrites.
* A few unattached relatives will be in attendance for those who like to visit on Sunday mornings.
* One section will be landscaped with real shrubbery and AstroTurf for those who find God in nature on Sunday mornings.
* Finally, the sanctuary will be decorated with both Christmas Poinsettias and Easter Lilies for those who have never seen the church without them.


Anonymous said...

Dear Kent some view the Scriptures as saying that neglect of Church attendance is the same as APOSTASY! --Dad
Hebrews 10:25
Neglect of regular church attendance is viewed as apostasy!
* The assembling of ourselves together (?πισυναφωγ?ν ?αυτ?ν)
Επισυναγωγ? only here and 2 Thessalonians 2:1, see note. The act of assembling, although some explain assembly. The antithesis is, "not forsaking assembling, but exhorting in assembly." Lünemann aptly says that the idea of apostasy which would be conveyed by the rendering assembly or congregation by ? θος habit or custom, which implies an often recurring act on the part of the same persons.
As the manner of some is (καθ?ς ?θος τισ?ν)
For manner rend. custom. Lit. as is custom unto some. ?θος mostly in Luke and Acts. Comp. Luke 1:9; John 19:40.
* Ye see the day approaching (βλ?πετε ?γγ?ζουσαν τ?ν ?μ?ραν)
The day of Christ's second coming, bringing with it the judgment of Israel. He could say "ye see," because they were familiar with Christ's prophecy concerning the destruction of the temple; and they would see this crisis approaching in the disturbances which heralded the Jewish war. --Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament
* The command, then, here is, to meet together for the worship of God, and it is enjoined on Christians as an important duty to do it. It is implied, also, that there is blame or fault where this is "neglected." ---Barnes' Notes on the New Testament

Kent said...

We are a people who will do what we want, when we want. Bottom line is this, what's most important to a person, they will do.

Unfortunately some people don't see going to church as all that important. Yet we're told to "not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another-and all the more as you see the day approaching" -Hebrews 10:25

March Madness will soon begin. How many people will arrange their schedules so they don't miss whatever game or games is important to them, yet they can't seem to find time then, to get up and go to church.

I'm with you brother, church attendance is very important, after all, look at what Jesus did for us.