Staying Home vs. Coming to Church
When I was 11 years old, I fell in love with the church. If I’m honest, I think a big part of it had to do with the fact that I was a runt of a kid in a world filled with other kids who were bigger and meaner than me, and the church was a safe place where I didn’t have to be afraid to walk the halls.
My parents were introduced to a relationship with Christ at a little church in our town, and from that point on, that church was central to our life as a family. Led by my dad, we were that family—the family that was always there whenever the doors were open, always volunteering wherever we could help, eventually becoming leaders in various areas. In that little church, I learned how to serve, how to care, how to grow in my faith.
So, it’s often surprising to me that even after all of these years of being deeply connected to church life, I still struggle sometimes to get up the gumption it takes to actually be a regular weekly attender—to be present with the Body of Christ each and every weekend. It’s shocking to me how easy it is to talk myself out of going, especially with the added ease of simply tuning in to the service via the web. I can get my weekly dose of teaching and be on with my weekend—right?
I don’t think when the author of Hebrews said that we should “not neglect meeting together, as some have made a habit…” it was because he was concerned that we would miss our teaching opportunity for the week. Though sitting under Spirit-filled teaching is a wise thing to do, it’s true that in today’s world we can get great teaching easily in any number of different ways. But, if it’s not for learning, then what?
Could it be singing and praising God? For some, this is a key ingredient of the weekend worship service, and it certainly is a wonderful opportunity to intentionally draw near to God in praise and worship. But I can sing to my heart’s abandon in my car every day on the way to work, having sweet moments of communion with the Lord throughout my day. Of course, worship and singing is a beautiful thing, but it’s not the reason I need to be in church on the weekend. If it’s not singing and praising God, then what?
Community—that must be it! For many of us, connecting for weekend worship is the one sane place we have in the world. Our work lives are filled with stress, conflict and pain; our family dynamics are whacked out; and our neighbors are either hermits or way too close for comfort. At church, we can find like-minded people, get to know them, and begin to do life together. Maybe this is the purpose of gathering together in weekly church services!
Wait—maybe volunteering could be the purpose of coming on the weekend. Heaven knows we can always use the help. Serving the needs of the Body of Christ as it gathers is a high calling, no matter how visible or seemingly unimportant or simple the role. Without the people of the church carrying out the activities of the church, nothing of transformational purpose takes place. Though serving in the church is something you and I should do, and in itself it can be personally transformational, it’s not the reason you should come to church every weekend.
So, what is the reason? Is there a reason? Is it a practice that has run its course? Can’t I get everything I need and still be a part of the Body of Christ without physically having to go to a building?
The mystery of “gathering” as the Body of Christ is that all the things I’ve already mentioned are a part of it. Although individually, each of these good things has value, when experienced together with other believers in unity of spirit, in the same place, it can be and often is…priceless.
Gathering with other believers and seekers on a regular basis is critical to your spiritual development. You can learn on your own, for sure. You can worship your Creator without being in a crowd. You can even be in a small group and serve your fellow man in another way. But you can’t replicate what happens when the Body of Christ gathers. It’s magical.
You might be reading this and saying, “I’ve been coming to church for years and rarely felt the magic you speak of.” Fair enough. If you’ve been a regular participant in the weekly assembly of the gathered church; if you’ve participated in the regular teaching and worship together with other believers; if you’ve extended yourself to others around you and become part of the army of volunteers who make it all happen every week; if you’ve done all of this and haven’t experienced the mystery and awe of the Body of Christ gathered together—then I stand corrected.
Weekly, regular, in-person attendance is step one in your spiritual growth regimen, the base from which to launch into deeper learning about God through serving others, study of the Word, giving sacrificially, and getting in a small group for accountability, support and connection. Don’t skip step one!
So, this weekend, as you’re in that moment of decision that we all face, and it’s been a long week and you just need some down time…get your butt to church. You won’t regret it!
Side Note: Do you really want to take a bold step in your weekly attendance commitment that will further our mission at SBC? Commit to attending services at 5pm on Saturday at any of our campuses!
By doing this, you are intentionally engaging with our mission to Win people to Christ by making room on Sunday morning for people who almost always visit on Sundays first.
Add to this the fact that you can park closer, get in and out faster, hear Jamie’s first message (which always has more of a wild-west feel to it than the others!), and enjoy some of the unique things we do at SBC only on Saturday nights, and it’s a no-brainer! Try Saturday night!