And with that one statement I have aroused many emotions, right? There are those who will jump on the soapbox with me to agree. Others will kick the soapbox out from underneath me in anger. Some will just be indifferent and others will cringe in acknowledgment of their own lifestyle.
Let’s face it, church involvement is not what it once was. As little as 25 years ago, Sundays were guarded by most people, including local sports programs, stores, and even many restaurants as a day of worship. I remember a time when the majority of the people I knew were involved in some way in attending church on Sundays. (I didn’t say they were Jesus followers, just church attenders. Big difference.)Our church involvement should not fit around the calendar, our calendar should fit around our church involvement! Click To Tweet
This blog is not about bemoaning the current state of church attendance and involvement in our culture. That ship has sailed. In today’s busy, fast-paced, option-oriented world, Church has become less and less the center of the community and more a part of the shrinking fringe.
What saddens me most, is not how many people are not involved in church in our communities, it’s how many Christian people so easily skip church instead of making it their community. It seems like going to church, even among many core Christian families, has become a weekly choice instead of a weekly discipline. I’m a firm believer that it should be hard for us to stay home from church.
Sure, a lot of this falls on the Church and Church leadership. Maybe we aren’t giving a compelling enough reason to be involved. Maybe we need to cast clearer vision. I don’t know. There are some incredible leaders out there moving the dial on this in the Church world.What saddens me most, is not how many people are not involved in church in our communities, it's how many Christian people so easily skip church instead of making it their community. Click To Tweet
I’m not saying that we should never miss a Sunday! That’s not realistic. Vacations, illnesses, unforeseen circumstances, etc. can always keep you away from Church. There are plenty of legitimate things that can keep someone from being involved in church every week. I get that. I’m the pastor, and I won’t be in our Church all 52 Sundays this year. However, I think we’ve let the standard fall slightly on what the definition of legitimate is.
Here are five things I believe should never keep us from attending Church:
1. The Subject Matter — There are times I don’t share with the subject is for the upcoming Sunday because I don’t want the subject to keep people from coming. I’ve heard people say and I’ve heard of people who choose whether they will come that week based on what the subject is.
Can you imagine if life worked this way? Students only went to the classes that interested them the most? Politicians only went to work on the things they liked the best. Doctors only learned the procedures that most interested them. Can you imagine how chaotic our world would be if we only engaged in the things that most interested us?
Just like we need a balanced diet physically, we need a balanced diet spiritually as well. “Well, I’ve already heard a lot of sermons about money. I don’t need to be there for that one do I?” Have you ever thought that maybe there will be someone in church who knows you, and just by your attendance and agreement to the subject matter, God might use you to confirm what the pastor is saying to them?
The moment we choose to skip church based on the subject, we have made ourselves the main subject. Hello! God might want you in church that week to hear something you’ve never heard before. Meet someone you’ve never met before. Confirm something He’s never confirmed before or heal something He’s never healed before. Don’t let the subject keep you from church.The moment we choose to skip church based on the subject, we have made ourselves the main subject. Click To Tweet
2. The speaker — Your Church should be able to announce who is preaching each week and it should not affect your attendance. When we choose to attend based on who is in the pulpit we are forgetting who allows them in the pulpit in the first place. Jesus!When we choose to attend based on who is in the pulpit we are forgetting who allows them in the pulpit in the first place. Jesus! Click To Tweet
I understand that we all gravitate toward a specific style of preacher. I know that people have someone they prefer more than others. I get that. When I go visit churches, I always want the Lead Pastor to be communicating. I’m not saying that you can’t enjoy one person’s preaching more than another. That’s not it at all. I’m just saying, who is preaching should never determine whether you will attend or not.
And don’t even get me started on video preaching versus live preaching. The moment we stop watching NetFlix, going to movies, or watching YouTube on our devices I will begin listening to people talk about how they can’t engage with video preaching. I’m quite certain that if Jesus were alive in 2018, He would leverage video to deliver His message to the far corners of the earth!I'm not saying that you can't enjoy one person's preaching more than another. I'm just saying, who is preaching should never determine whether you will attend or not. Click To Tweet
3. The Sun — Yes, there are times that the weather is a legitimate reason to stay home from church. In 10 1/2 years of ministry at Element, we have actually never canceled a full day of services for weather. We’ve canceled individual services, but never a whole day.
On some of the days that we’ve had church, there were people who legitimately felt it was unsafe for them to come. I get that! Some days, especially in Wyoming, it can get pretty sketchy as to whether or not you should be on the road or out in the cold.
What I don’t understand though, is how some days, it’s clearly safe to go to church, but while church parking lots are empty the pizza place is packed. And again, I’m not talking about people who don’t believe in God. I’m talking about people who claim to be fully devoted Jesus followers using the weather as their excuse to relax in front of the fire.What I don't understand though, is how some days, it's clearly safe to go to church, but while church parking lots are empty the pizza place is packed. Click To Tweet
As an able-bodied follower of Jesus, the only way the weather should keep me from going to church is if it is legitimately unsafe for me to go. Again, think of the witness we can make to those around us who don’t know Jesus when we are willing to brave the wind and cold to go and worship the Creator of it!As an able-bodied follower of Jesus, the only way the weather should keep me from going to church is if it is legitimately unsafe for me to go. Click To Tweet
4. My spirit — Notice, I used a lower case “s”. I highly doubt He would, but if the Holy Spirit wanted, I guess He could keep you from going to church. Seems counterintuitive, but I guess He could. When I say “spirit,” I’m talking about the way you feel.
“I don’t feel like going” is perhaps the worst reason to not go to church. I would argue that when you least feel like going to church is probably the time you most need to go. When we don’t feel like going, is the enemy just going to let up on attacking? NO! If anything, He’s going to ramp it up!
When our spirits are low we need to lift up our souls to God through worship. When our spirits are down, we need to connect with other people who can lift us up. When our spirits are discouraged, we need to be encouraged by the body of Christ.I would argue that when you least feel like going to church is probably the time you most need to go. Click To Tweet
“I don’t feel like it” is the epitome of American selfishness.
For those of us who say that Jesus is the most important person in our life, I hope that we all treat the gathering of worship at His House as the most important time and place in our life.
Yes, there are things that will always keep us away, but I pray it becomes hard for us to stay home instead of easy for us to stay away!