I attend a small church in a medium-sized town. We have two services, a contemporary service with more modern music and a traditional service with the standard hymns. Isn’t funny how we categorize our services based solely on the music that is played?
Lisa and I attend the contemporary service. I actually love the hymns and the more formal church setting, but I also like the more laid-back approach of a contemporary service. As I looked around Sunday, the contemporary service started about with about five people there not counting the pastor, his wife, and the children’s leader who sing for that service. What happens is we start singing and then by the end of the three songs others show up getting the room to about 15 people.
The pastor is considering stopping the contemporary service due to lack of interest.
I’m actually laughing as I write that sentence. It’s not because I think the pastor is wrong but because I think people have lost sight about why we attend church.
You may think I’m crazy, but we go to church for one reason: To worship God. Period!
When we sing, we do so to the Lord to please and honor Him, not as if we are just singing songs with the worship team.
When we pray, we do so to God to praise Him, seek Him and petition Him, not to impress those around us with our flowery words.
When we listen to the sermon, we believe that God is speaking directly to us through his anointed priest instead of thinking that the pastor is just giving us life advice.
When we fellowship with other believers we do so to be encouraged and lifted up by the Holy Spirit in preparation of sharing Jesus the following week in our various worlds, not to meet as if we are the Rotary Club to hear about each other’s previous week’s exploits.
When we give our tithes and offerings we should do so as if we are kneeling before the King of Kings offering him a pittance of the wealth He has given us – as if He will take our two fish and five loves and feed thousands – instead of questioning the church’s use of our money.
When you walk into God’s house you should have the expectation of having a personal encounter with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit that will ROCK you, not just expecting to spend the next hour or so checking the box that you went to church.
Maybe I’m a cynic (and I am) but it seems to me there are a whole lot of dead churches out there just going through the motions because people really don’t understand why they go. They’ve made church about them and not about worshipping God.
I know that may seem like a bold statement, but think about what you hear from church goers, and as importantly non-church going Christians. They don’t like the music. They don’t like the message. They don’t like how loud things are. They can’t hear because of bad acoustics. They don’t like the people because they’re hypocrites. They don’t like church because all they want is their money. They don’t like the church because it’s judgmental. They don’t go to church because the times are inconvenient. Blah, blah, blah. In other words, you don’t love Jesus enough to put Him first and you last. Your own comfort, complaints, and preferences come before worshipping Jesus.
Church, my friends, isn’t about you! It’s about Jesus and if you’re not going to church or are complaining about your church you’ve made your faith about you and not about God.
Please reread that last sentence and let it sink in.
I’m not saying church doesn’t have its problems – anytime you get a group of sinners together you’re bound to have trouble! But understand why we have church! It’s so that we believers can join in unity to worship the one who saved us from the very sins we are complaining about in others and revealing in ourselves as we complain!
I was out of the church for 25 years; I get it. But having been back in the church for nearly 15 years, I know what I missed all those years. I missed the opportunity to sing to Jesus; to have my prayers go before the Lord as a fragrant incense; to hear God’s word spoken directly to me; to give sacrificially so others could benefit from God’s graciousness in my life; to have my brothers and sisters in the faith encourage and embolden me to share the Gospel; to be an encourager to them as well; and learn to be less so that Jesus can be more in my life.
I’m sad that we’ve made church so routine. I’m discouraged that people don’t leave church absolutely on fire, transformed, and compelled to share Jesus everywhere they go. I feel badly for pastors who cannot get their congregants to follow them in a deeper, more intentionally serious walk with the Lord.
However, we can’t blame church for all that. We have only ourselves to blame for not focusing our church attendance on worshipping God but instead of satisfying ourselves.