I refuse to live there, but I’ll be transparent about it.
One of these years, maybe I’ll reach a place where I’m so mature that it just won’t bother me.
A few months ago, I mismanaged my appointment for a haircut. I had the right day, but I totally messed up the time. For some strange reason, I thought it was a 2 o’clock afternoon appointment. But something about that bugged me. Eventually, around lunch time, I asked my wife to call the salon and confess my fogginess. She usually schedules this for me, and it was no big deal for her to make the call.
On the other end of the call, the person said, “he was supposed to be here at 10 this morning.” Lisa kindly asked for the next time slot. It worked out in my favor that Eric was able to get to me that same afternoon.
Eric is a Christian man, and I was sure we’d be okay. So as I sat in his chair, I apologized. Eric is a bit of a cut-up with a good sense of humor. With scissors in his hand and a smile on his face, he shrugged his shoulders and began giving me a good-hearted rough time. He said, “well, all I can say is, I held up my end of the deal. I was here.”
We both enjoyed a good laugh. But his phrasing stuck with me.
I’m not a calloused man with no room in my mind for leniency in church attendance. I’ve never advocated for the sick and most vulnerable among us to attend public gatherings. Some people are actually forced to work on Sundays, too. I’ve been there and done that. And I understand the need for vacations, retreats, and getaways.
But I suppose what bothers me most is that sometimes, your absence feels like a lack of respect. The continual burden of pastoral ministry is heavy. And the weekly messages that come from your church are prayed over and prepared with every single one of us in mind. The same thing is true about other facets of the worship service. Our staff works at making every Sunday a good and safe worship experience for our congregation.
Occasionally having to miss a service does not mean you have “forsaken” the Lord or this church. Yet, some of the reasons used for skipping services are symptoms of a lack of commitment. They are external indicators of an internal problem.
It would appear that some people have this opinion about church attendance: If nothing else better comes up, that’s what I’ll do. And so many other things and places come up which must be more important than worshipping God.
Indifference about church attendance is hazardous to your soul. You’re not likely to be challenged to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. You’re missing out on building relationships with other Christians who need you.
Forsaking church attendance is failing to invest in your spiritual growth. I mean, it only takes about 75-90 minutes of your time to attend a Sunday morning worship service. Most of us waste at least that much time every week on the meaningless things of this world.
So when it appears that you’re just not where you need to be in your relationship with the Lord, don’t forget this. If it seems that your family, finances, or future are in jeopardy, please remember this. I held up my end of the deal. I was here. The preaching and teaching of the rightly divided Word of God continues to offer help with all of that.
Actually, our staff is available to help you outside of Sundays as well. We want to help you, and we want to encourage you to follow the Lord. We’ll continue to pray for you, teach you the Bible, and lead you by example.
I know everyone is not going to be as committed as the pastor. But I will confess that the attendance habits of the average Christian often disappoint me. I know I can’t live in disappointment, but I do visit there more than I should.
All I can say is, I’ll continue to hold up my end of the deal. I’ll be here.
But then again, if you won’t live responsibly toward the Lord, there’s only so much I can do to help you.
What if each one who claimed the name of Christ stopped latching ahold of every available excuse and simply got committed to church attendance? Revival might happen. The quality of our Christian community would definitely improve. Perhaps the church would actually get plugged into the spiritual power to influence the world around us.
I’ll keep up my end of the deal. I’ll be here and I’ll be praying for you.
I’d appreciate your prayers, too.