I was talking to someone while I was out and about a few weeks back. I recognized them, but was not exactly sure where from. When that happens these days, it is usually because they attend or have visited the church I pastor. This person began to talk to me and I soon realized without question that the place our paths had crossed was Grace Fellowship. They talked about Grace with a great deal of conviction and enthusiasm and passion. It was really cool. I then asked the person a few questions and realized some things. The key thing being that this person had been to our church about 4 times and had not been in months. Yet, to this person, it was his church. He was attending. He was committed. He was a regular church goer. He was in.
I thought about this for several days. I stored the experience in the back of mind. Then summer hit. Summer is a funny time for a church. People are in out and out. You do not see people for weeks at a time and sometimes months. This experience of running into the person in the community, and considering how people approach church during summer time led me to make some observations and thoughts about people and the church they refer to as “my church.”
Now what I am about to write relates to commitment to primarily worship services or your small group or your house church. I am talking about your ongoing commitment to the gathering of the saints and seekers for the sake of worship. With that I mind, it is important that I state that attending church on a regular basis is not the be all end all of the Christian faith. Many attend church and do not know Jesus. But those who know Jesus should assemble together regularly. Here are some thoughts and observations:
- People define committed attendance much differently than they used to. People think if they make it to corporate worship service every other week that they are doing awesome. In my humble opinion if you call a church your home, you should be attending its worship services at least 3 out of every 4 weeks. Faithful people are like gold and there just appears to be less of them.
- People have very little loyalty to churches. People leave for really silly reasons and leave after many people have spent years ministering to them. One incident or perceived rift can be enough to get people to bolt. (For the record – I do believe there are times to leave church).
- I am amazed how people assess their commitment to church. People are incredibly good at overstating their involvement and convincing themselves of it.
- Summer becomes a get out of jail free pass for church. I am not sure where this attitude comes from or came from, but it is just silly.
- The need to disciple people in churches is redonkulous. People need a fully devoted life modeled and taught to them. People have really lowered the bar on what it means to be involved in a church as a Christian.
- It breaks my heart how many people run from church when they are hurting or life is kicking the snot out of them. These are the moments where the church can really minister to you, do not run.
- You can not run the play if you never get to the huddle. Corporate worship services are often the launching point for many ministry initiatives. A person can not hear about these and be inspired to serve in these opportunities if he or she is not there.
- I wonder what kind of ministry and witness the local church at large could have if people were as committed to getting their kids and themselves to church as they are to getting their kids to soccer and baseball games and themselves to their golf leagues and store sales.
- Christianity is certainly more than attending church. But as a Christian is the church, they should be participating regularly and faithfully in one. Church life is important.
- Once people quit attending church, it is a tough thing to get back to it.