Not long ago, I was reminiscing with a pastor friend of mine about the previous couple decades of our ministries. We both noted how commitment to the church seems to be at an all time low.
As we discussed this, we both agreed that a decade or so ago, the core leaders of our churches normally seemed to attend church about five out of every six Sundays or so. Less-committed church goers would attend with less regularity, perhaps about half the time. Sadly, it seems that the core leaders today only tend to attend church about half the time (about 2 Sundays per month), and the less-committed attend even less than that.
This is a tragic shift, and nationwide figures seem to be showing the exact same trend. People just don’t seem to be all that “into” God anymore.
People are clearly busier than ever, and that does not help the situation. Others have been hurt or disillusioned by churches or “religious” people, so they use that as a “reason” for why they do not attend church often. However, most people just seem to be looking for something better to do on Sunday mornings than go to a church to worship and learn about God and His ways. Golfing, sleeping, sports, and many other things turn out to be that “better option” for them than church.
I would like to suggest to you four reasons why church is a big deal – a REALLY big deal! Let me give you some reasons why you should plan to be in church every single possible moment you can.
Why You Should Make a Huge Commitment to Being in Church Whenever the Doors Are Open . . .
1) The local church is a central part of God’s strategic plan for your spiritual growth.
I have often heard the statement, “Well, I don’t need to go to church to be a Christian.” On a slight technicality, that may be true, but it is certainly far-removed from God’s true plan.
Jesus said, “On this rock [Peter’s statement that Jesus was the Messiah and Son of God] I will build my church, and the gates of Hell shall not be able to stand against it” (Matthew 16:18). You see, the church is Jesus’ idea, not man’s idea. It seems like we should pay attention to His plan since it came directly from Him.
When a person says they don’t need the church, that is a departure from God’s plan. I would advise against that.
2) You are basically a composite of the five people with whom you spend the most time.
When I was a youth pastor, I could easily see how friends could influence young people for either good or for bad. Now that I am a pastor to “big people,” I can see that tendency is true for them as well! Even adults are influenced by their friends and the people with whom they spend time.
I have come to believe that we are basically a composite of the five people with whom we spend the most time. It is important, therefore, that we choose those people well. That is why it is so valuable for us to be in church every time the doors are open. We need to expose ourselves as much as possible to other followers of Christ who will draw us nearer to God.
Paul said it like this: “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (Hebrews 3:13 NIV) We need the support of other believers if we are truly going to grow in Christ.
3) You need the voice of the church to counteract all of the deception that is crammed into your mind all throughout the week.
Paul warns believers in Colossians 2:8, “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.” (NKJV)
The word for “cheat” in this passage refers to kidnapping another person. We need to be careful that we are not “kidnapped” by false ideologies, by wrong thinking.
The term “traditions” refers to teachings. Do you realize how many ungodly teachers are speaking into your life every week? Internet. News media. Hollywood. Music. Co-workers. Friends and family. The list seems never ending. With so many messages streaming into your life every week that can “kidnap” you and take you away from God, it is extremely critical that you spend as much time in church as possible to fill your mind with godly wisdom and discernment. Soak in all you can whenever you can!
4) Weekly ministry in a local church helps to build up your spiritual muscles.
In Ephesians 4, Paul says that we all are gifted in different ways. When we use our own particular gifts to serve within a church, it is a like a body with many body parts that all work together for a common goal.
As Paul discusses serving in this chapter, I find it interesting that he threw in the comment in Ephesians 4:14 in which he says, “... that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting….” In other words, when we use our spiritual gifts by serving within the local church community, we somehow become better-grounded theologically. It will be more difficult for us to be deceived into thinking things that are not true according to God’s Word. Isn’t that amazing? Serving makes us more theologically astute. I’m not exactly sure how that works, but I do know that I have observed it to be true in my own life as well as in the lives of so many I have watched to grow in their journey with the Lord.
Commitment ain’t what it used to be. But I hope for you, you will go all out in your commitment to Christ and His church.
Begin this Sunday!