That might be your ambitious resolution this year. Perhaps you already attend, but now you’re aiming to be more consistent. Maybe you haven’t been in years but now you’re going to change that. Either way, as a pastor, I love hearing these. But as a faithful friend who is willing to wound you for your own good (Proverbs 27:6), let me offer some pastoral advice on this.
CHURCH ATTENDANCE IS NOT ABOUT OPTIONS, IT’S ABOUT OBEDIENCE
Let’s face it. We live in a society that places high commodity on self and self-gratification. That’s why we have fast-food, amazon prime, and Netflix. It’s all about us and our choice. We have the luxury of choice at our fingertips at all times. As a result, church has also become optional; the subject of your choice. In the words of Matt Chandler, church has become a “theological buffet” to fit whatever political persuasion, preaching style, musical preference, and church-activity level you desire.
But not limited to that is the “option” of if you’ll even go this week or not.
But if we are to heed the loving counsel of God’s Word, we would quickly be rebuked in a variety of ways on this type of thinking. One of the strongest of them being Hebrews 10:24-25.
24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
Come because it’s commanded, not because it’s optional.
CHURCH ATTENDANCE IS NOT ABOUT YOU, IT’S ABOUT “US”
Church is a community. Notice how the writer of Hebrews wrote “let US consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds…”
That’s powerful. It’s powerful not only because it’s a command, but because it’s context is smack-dab in the middle of speaking about the community of God’s people, gathered together in public worship! It’s about how we can collectively come together and completely consider (creatively think) of ways in which we can constantly move each other to greater holiness and deeds that please God! We come to be with each other, to learn of each other, to rebuke each other, to forgive each other, to teach one another. We come individually to form a whole. We come to be the body of Christ.
The worship through song, the worship through the Word preached, the worship through giving of finances and gifts are all par for the course; it’s the community before and after those things that adds icing to the cake.
Church attendance is not about what you come to get but what you came to give.
Come selflessly not selfishly.
CHURCH ATTENDANCE IS NOT ABOUT GETTING, IT’S ABOUT GIVING
When we come to worship on Sundays and mid-weeks, we are coming to give. We come to give God our attention, affection, and adoration. We have come to worship Him. We have come to lift up His Name and to receive the Word richly and implant it into our hearts. (James 1:21).
This is where we come to give to others by using our Spirit-given gifts, natural abilities, and out of our wealth. God’s “plan A” is His church. He desires that His church be established, built up, nurtured, and holy. How does He accomplish that? You and me. When we give of ourselves, we are mimicking our Lord Jesus by offering up our bodies as a “living and holy sacrifice” that is our acceptable form of worship. (Romans 12:1-2)
Come to give, not merely receive.
CHURCH ATTENDANCE IS NOT ABOUT SOCIALIZING, IT’S ABOUT SALVATION
I’ve saved this one for last because of its importance. This is important since we have already discussed community and its significance. We do gather together and grow alongside one another. We do love one another and meet each other’s needs as they arise. We do socialize at the appropriate times and places. But one thing we know for sure is that the church is not a social club, it is a place of worship. It’s a place in which God’s chosen people gather for One person and one purpose: The gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the glue that holds all of us together. If you are aiming to go to church this year for any other reason then you are destined to fail and spiral into frustration.
You cannot enjoy being a part of a missional and Bible-believing, Bible-teaching church if you are merely looking for kudos or a morality booster. The church is not your answer if that’s your end game. The end game is Jesus Christ, His gospel, and our response to that.
Please, examine your resolution in light of the reason that we all gather so that you truly will succeed. Are you certain of your salvation? Do you really know Christ? Do you truly desire to serve and worship Him? Then you will truly seek that which He desires for you.
Come because you’re called, not because you can socialize.