For as far back as I remember, to say that I’ve been a “sports enthusiast” is a gross understatement. As a young boy, as a teenager, as a younger adult – I have been immersed in athletics and sports at all levels, and across most leagues and the many conferences. But beyond what I’ve been, I know people (several) who don’t and won’t miss a game! Whether it’s in person, live on TV, or part of an expensive satellite package – they simply will never need the DVR. They can’t wait and they won’t wait to watch it later. Years ago, if/when we could “get tickets” to something – it would be exciting. No doubt about that. But what I came to see and realize is that when I couldn’t make it, or rearrange the schedule, or reschedule an appointment, or get the next day off work – was that my not being there didn’t impact the crowd and it certainly never changed the outcome of the game. In other words, my inability or unavailability to attend didn’t alter the atmosphere because my attendance wasn’t missed.
That is a reality, a very direct reality that is absolutely true.
But you know what? After I first believed and became a Christian…it didn’t take long for me to see things entirely differently about the church. Perhaps it was one of the few things that just seemed to come quickly, and clearly, in my journey. So I want to take a moment or two just to elaborate in the hope that it will help someone, in some way, and to some extent.
So let’s get right to the truth: When we miss Worship, when will genuinely don’t make it a priority for God, for ourselves, and the church body – the church suffers. I have heard people try to dispel and dismantle church/corporate worship attendance over the years, many of whom are professing “Christians.” Some have gone so far as to try to use God’s Word, The Bible, to do this very thing. It’s kind of like the seminary student who misses church in order to stay home and study on Sunday morning. Crazy, huh? But the truth is: It holds no weight and it has no substance. Read Hebrews 10. God’s Word is emphatic about being a part of His body, The Church, for the furtherance of His Kingdom. And to this, one must be present.
When you, or I, or anyone who is a part of the church is not there…
- The body of the church is incomplete;
- Our voice, and heart, and passion is not heard or felt when it is lifted up, corporately, to God;
- We cannot actively serve God or others (who may need our gifts and talents);
- We do not receive God’s Word and challenge, which often can be, and is, custom tailored to speak to us more directly;
- We miss out on corporate prayer, encouraging others and building them up; anointing, and testimony;
- We forfeit the blessing of fellowship with others;
- We send a message to kids and youth (future generations) that missing church for a litany of “stuff” is acceptable and “just fine!” Statistics among Millennials show this to be all too accurate.
- We miss out on what God does throughout the worship encounter; and we miss very special aspects like communion, 1st time decisions, renewed commitments, child dedications, honoring and celebrating victories, etc.
- For more serious patterns of absence – signs of apathy and indifference can really set in, and be hard to break;
- It is harder for others as they bear more of the weight of ministry, which goes against our beliefs, sound doctrines, and the very teachings of Christ to be unified as one body.
While not an all-inclusive list, we have most certainly gone deeper. And no, it’s not to say that illness and vacation and work are not real legitimate things. Of course they are! But still, even to this day, illness/vacation/required work are a small % of the reason people (mostly Christians) miss worship. The much more frequent reasons have to do with “a day to sleep in” “going to the beach” “the kids didn’t want to” or “we just overslept” – to name a few.
Trust me: The Church misses you…your local church misses you…the various ministries in and around the church misses you…when you aren’t present. When missing and skipping church becomes a regular/systematic practice, here is really what occurs: We stymie our own spiritual growth; we can fall back and sputter out; and we really weaken the ministries and vision of the entire church body.
God has given and provided us a place where we can truly belong. We are His ambassadors and representatives, who were bought at a great price. There is no question: It beats and far exceeds any sports or concert or entertainment venue, where it doesn’t make a difference if we’re there or not! Your attendance matters at church and it must always matter. So come and be a part of what God is doing and will do, in our midst, and have presence. You are both needed and wanted in this great mission.