****I originally posted this on my own blog here****
Earlier this week a guy in my business quit. He went to a weekly Monday morning meeting, sat through an uncomfortable time where he essentially made up some numbers then he walked out and quit. He couldn’t handle being criticized or experiencing rejection. I sympathize with him, I don’t like going through those either. What was interesting was this guy talked so much about what he was going to do. He was going to do this and he was going to do that. He was going to study for this major thing and do this great event. He never did any of them. While I sympathize with him, I want to change gears now and look at church attendance in light of his talk, no walk activity.
Going to Mars has been one of the most healing things for our family. When we moved here there was some wounds from the churches that we had served in that needed healing and we have found a haven where the Word of God is preached, and our faith is giving the opportunity to be put into action. Invariably, when people talk about Mars, there are many who say they could never feel connected at the church. I think this may be true for a few of them but it is my belief that most people who say this are people who have an expectation of the church to connect them. They don’t feel that they need to make an effort to be connected; rather they feel the church owes them. That’s a different topic for a different day, but I will say that my family has never felt more connected to a church.
My wife and I were talking this recently about gathering with other believers on Sunday morning, commonly referred to as church attendance. One of the girls that was supposed to help with her class didn’t show up because she was out too late the night before. Even attending a great church like Mars there are still Sundays where we don’t “feel” like attending the gathering. Most of the time, we still go. Now, I don’t want to go all legalistic about this but I want my life to be marked by regular gathering with other believers to worship God, to heal and be healed. For me and my house we have decided that this is important. We serve because we believe it is important. What amazes me is how unimportant regular gathering is for so many people. Now, almost to a person if I talked to them (I have with many) and asked them , they would tell me that weekly gatherings—going to ‘church’, if you will—is important. The truth though is found in their actions. And the truth is that it isn’t all that important to them.
In fact, I would say that for most people going to a sports outing, going camping, or going to work is more important than gathering with other believers to worship God. Come on, let’s be honest no one who is even remotely responsible would ever think of oversleeping for work. Or if someone had a big vacation type event planned out they would be more than willing to get up and give up sleep to be on the road on time. But how many of these same people will be out late Saturday night so they can have “fun” ,because that will matter for the rest of their life, and sleep right past their alarm, if they even set it on Sunday morning?
I’m convinced that for the average American Christian fun matters more than any gathering of believers. We would rather applaud a touchdown or homerun then bow before the Creator and experience Eucharist. Too many of us like the idea of serving others through our local body but don’t want to be inconvenienced to serve. We want God—and consequently all the goes with Him– on our terms. That’s why we can get up Monday to Friday at whatever time is necessary for work but we can’t make it for a gathering on Sunday.
In some ways, this may stem from our view of membership and the modern church. Too many of us believe we are in some sort of country club where attendance to group functions is nice but not necessary. Service is a nice ideal to be aspired to but not something that should actually cost us anything. I think this probably why the average person gives less than 3% of their income to their local church body.
Can I be honest?
Much like the guy who left the business this week, annoyed me because he was always talking about what he was going to be doing and never actually doing anything I am tired of people telling me how important God is to them when their actions say something completely different. It’s not that I don’t want to accept people where they are, I do but I want more. I want a Christianity that is authentic and all authentic Christianity will involve regular interaction with other believers and regular service.
Bottom line, our actions tell on us. We get out of bed for the things that are most important to us. We sleep through the things that aren’t that important. We sacrifice for the things that matter to us, and ignore the things that don’t. Most of the time we do what we want to do when we want to do it. Most of the time we worship our bed or the ever elusive fun we’re having more than we want to worship God.