Let me start off by saying I love church. I absolutely adore the opportunity to gather with the bride of Christ on a weekly basis. What a blessing it is to be surrounded by hundreds of brothers and sisters in Christ to lift high the name of Jesus through songs of praise, reveal the nature and purposes of God through the peaching of His Word, pray in unity with one another, and simply get to hug our big adopted family. What a blessing it is to meet with the Father with our brothers and sisters.
Yet, across America all the stats show that even committed christians are attending church less often. But why? Why has church just become another option to so many christians? Why is it that church competes with a morning in the park with the family, a little camping trip, and sleeping in? Why does a sporting event, a fun experience with the family, and many other things so often and so easily trump going to church?
All sorts of great people have given a bunch of reasons, but I don’t think they ever get to the heart of it.
Martin Lloyd Jones, to me, gets to the central issue when he talks of christians who have the right beliefs but…
They go to God’s house, not with the idea of meeting with God, not with the idea of waiting upon him, it never crosses their minds, or enter into their hearts that something may happen in a service… The idea that God may suddenly visit his people, and descend upon them, the whole thrill of being in the presence of God, and sensing his nearness, and his power, never even enters into their imaginations.
There is no conception that God may suddenly meet with them, and that something tremendous may happen. We must examine ourselves. Do we go to God’s house expecting something to happen? Or do we go to just listen to a sermon, and to sing our hymns, and to meet with one another?
How often does the vital idea enter into our minds that we are in the presence of the living God, that the Holy Spirit is in the church, that we may feel the touch of his power? How much do we think in terms of coming together to meet with God, and to worship him, and to stand before him, and to listen to him? Is there not this appalling danger that we are just content having the right beliefs?
I believe christians attend church less because they simply don’t believe that God is going to do anything. I think if people really believed that God was there to meet with them and that he could do something tremendous in their lives they would be there every chance they could. We have lost an expectation of God meeting with us as we gather and doing something incredible in our lives.
I simply believe the Bible, “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.” Do we go to church to draw near to God or because we are simply used to going and so we go to hear a good sermon, good music, and to see friends?
If it is for anything less than meeting with God, drawing near to him, and expecting him to do something tremendous in our lives than I understand skipping a church service when fun things come around. And therein lies the problem…
There is a special power, a special presence, and a special experience with God that can be had when the church gathers. Isn’t that worth more than, well… anything and everything?
Christians, we have a wonder working God who desires to meet with us, with our gathered family, to draw near to us and work his wonders in us. It isn’t about “church”, it is about God and what he wants to do in you.
Let us not rob ourselves of the glorious opportunity that we are blessed with every Sunday, every week.