Friday, July 11, 2014

Why Attend Church Services?

I am so glad you asked!  

There is a growing percentage of Christians who only attend church services occasionally.  Studies show that although 40% of Americans say they go to church weekly, only 20% actually are in church on any given Sunday.  Sunday church attendance becomes the exception not the rule and "regular attenders" will "drop in" once a month.  Most of the occasional attenders don't feel as though they are missing out on anything.  They are making a conscious decision on how they want to spend their time, and time is their most precious commodity. 

I understand there are many reasons to miss church services.  I might have to miss church services because of work.  The weekend often is the only time I can get out of town.  I love sports and sporting events are on weekends (especially youth and children's sports).  The weekend is the only time I could go camping or hiking.  Managing my home requires a lot of work and those demands take a lot of time.  I don't have time to do that during the week. Sometimes there isn't time to go to church services. Others have been hurt by organized religion or religious people and those experiences keep them from attending church services.  
On the other hand, there are some people that always seem able to make time to be there. Their lives are as busy as anybody else's.  They are even willing to commute long distances to attend church services.  They manage to show up a majority of the time and they LOVE it.  These are people whose enthusiasm is contagious.  

(Just a note - I know that we are the Church and Church is people, not a building.  But God calls His people together as committed members of His body).  

What are the real reasons to attend church?  These "reasons" can become heart principles that make attendance exciting and desirable.  These are not rules to enforce in order to get people to attend church out of guilt.  

1. Obedience.  The Bible is pretty clear about the principle of Sabbath.  A day is to be set aside once a week to rest and to focus on God.  I don't think this has to be on Sunday.  But, it is meant to be once every seven days.  Hebrews 10:24-25 says, "Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another -- and all the more as you see the Day approaching." 

2. To bless others.  Have you considered the possibility that church services are more about what you can give than what you can get?  ( And I'm not talking about money right now.)
Church "consumers" usually leave church services feeling empty.  
We all have much to offer people that can help them grow in their faith -- whether it's taking care of babies in the nursery, being on the tech team, or playing a musical instrument.  Everyone's help makes a difference.  Even those who don't regularly volunteer can go to church with the mission of blessing others.  Each person becomes a blessing due to the uniqueness of their experience, wisdom, spiritual gifts, prayers and love.  

3. To be blessed - Gathering together with other believers has many benefits.  Biblical teaching provides us with lessons from God's Word (as long as we have a teachable heart).  Fellowship keeps us connected in relationship as the body of Christ. There is accountability in community.  Experiencing worship together can be powerful, inspirational and will help a person keep God central in their life.  Congregational prayer can be transforming.  When we draw near to God, He draws near to us.  

God honors those who are eager to grow in their faith.  When people start attending services less frequently it may indicate a spiritual and moral drift that ultimately results in a negative impact. 

An hour or two on a Sunday morning is best viewed as a way of enhancing your weekend, not a hindrance.  And the things you want to do on the weekend can still be done. It is more about time and life management than anything else.  

I challenge you to be a faithful attender for life - one who is there not out of guilt or social pressure, but because it's a personal value and an expression of your faith in Jesus and your love for His Church.  

No comments: