Monday, April 27, 2015
I heard a radio interview recently with a man who surprised almost everyone when he left his position as pastor at a big and thriving urban church a few years ago to go overseas with his wife and family to do mission work. I perceive it was not their intention, but as they both explained the reasons for such a daring move, they unsuspectingly slammed many pastors and church goers making it sound like going to church is not a good thing after all. To be fair, some of the reasons they cited for leaving their church were valid and are characteristic of many churches, especially the larger ones. They cited the excessive marketing, the competition with other churches to be the biggest and the best, running the church as a business, and their perceived need to constantly be adding new programs and departments, among other things. While these assessments may be a fair description of many churches, it is not true of all of them.
As I continued to hear their story, this thought crossed my mind: “This is exactly what a lot of Christians I know wanted to hear”; namely those who just barely endure going to church on Sunday and those who come every once in a while. This is a dilemma with many pastors: They find it very hard to understand why some of their members, although they obviously love the Lord, just don’t seem to like coming to church all that much.
Let me repeat for the sake of being fair: I sincerely believe that this couple, who is now in the mission field, did not intend to throw churches and their members “under the bus”, so to speak, because they apparently do not believe that going to church is a bad thing. On the contrary, attending church is not only a good practice, I believe it is a necessary one. Just like this couple had their own unique calling, others are called of God to be pastors, evangelists, teachers, singers, musicians, or administrators, etc. In fact, many are called to serve in their particular place or position, whether at home, in the work place, or in their vocation or profession. The Lord has these people everywhere and in every place so that He can bring the message of the gospel to the entire world. Time and space does not allow me to remind you of the countless benefits of “church”, but here are a few: It is a place where we can learn more about God, feel His presence, pray at the altar, be encouraged, get renewed and recharged spiritually and emotionally, see something amazing or miraculous, and have an urgent prayer petition answered. Going to church is a good thing; take advantage of it’s benefits.
Memory verse for the week: (Hebrews 10:25) “Let us not give up meeting together, (going to church) as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”