Posted by: pastortomvabeach | April 17, 2018

Thought for the Week April 22, 2018

There is a trend these days among church-goers and, by some studies, even among fairly strong Christians which is concerning if not disturbing. Many studies of churches across the spectrum of denominational affiliation and in every area of the United States show that “regular” church attendees are in Sunday services an average of 2-3 times per month. Some studies put it closer to two times a month than to three.

Again, these are the ones who are considered “regular” church attendees, not those who are loosely connected to the church or not even connected at all. These are considered the core group, the die hard members of any given church. And for the most part, those who don’t attend are not necessarily those who “can’t” be there because of work, illness, travel, etc. Many simply choose to take Sundays off on a pretty regular basis.

It is widely agreed among church leaders that in order to ensure that an entire congregation knows about coming events or important dates on the church calendar, it must be mentioned at least three weeks in a row since on a typical Sunday at least one third or more of the congregation will not be in attendance. I even heard of one church leader who preached the same sermon three weeks in a row to make sure the whole church heard it. That’s a little radical in my way of thinking, but then…?

I read what was alleged to be a letter to the editor of local newspaper, in which the writer complained that it made no sense to attend church every Sunday. It read, “I’ve gone for 30 years now, and in that time I have heard something like 3,000 sermons, but for the life of me, I can’t remember a single one of them. So, I think I’m wasting my time and the
preachers and priests are wasting their time by giving any sermons at all.”
This supposedly started a real controversy in the “Letters to the Editor” column much to the delight of the editor. It went on for weeks until someone wrote this clincher in response: “I’ve been married for 30 years now. In that time my wife has cooked some 32,000 meals but, for the life of me, I cannot recall the what I ate for a single one of those meals. But I do know this: they all nourished me and gave me the strength I needed to do my work and stay alive. If my wife had not given me these meals, I would be physically dead today. Likewise, if I had not gone to church for nourishment, I would be spiritually dead today!”

Now, I don’t know if that was a real letter to a newspaper or not but it sure makes sense to me. Hebrews 10:22-25 reads: Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Just ask yourself: how do we stir up one another to love and good works, if we don’t see each other regularly enough to do so? And how can we be encouraging one another, if the one who is an encouragement to me and I to them is not there on the same Sunday that I am there and vice versa? And, if we are neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, and it becomes a regular habit, what is going to help us to hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering?

Beloved friends, I am concerned that people in our nation are becoming malnourished because they are not regularly feasting on corporate worship and prayer, sharing the gifts of the Spirit, and receiving line upon line teaching from the Word of God. We plan our preaching calendar to provide balanced teaching from the whole of God’s Word. We teach in an expository way through entire books of the Bible and add series of messages aimed at growing all of us spiritually. But if one third to one half of the congregation only gets parts of these teachings, it’s like only eating one meal a day or better, two or three meals a week. It results in malnourisment.

I understand there are times people must work, vacations happen, and people get sick, but may I encourage everyone that Hebrews 10:25 says not to “neglect” meeting together and not to make it a habit. That speaks to us simply deciding to stay home one week or so a month which can soon turn into two weeks a month and later into all weeks of the month.

Church attendance is good for your spirit even if you don’t remember the sermon you heard last week. You are exposed to others who will lift you or who need you to lift them and it will challenge you to keep growing on your own. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by really being “regular” in worship, not “regular” by the modern definition. Why not try it? Nuff said, I’ll get off my soapbox now. Just a thought.

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