Right now many political leaders are questioning whether or not church is essential in our country. But unfortunately, there are a lot of Christians who allowed church to become non-essential in their personal lives long before this quarantine ever hit. A family who had been a part of our congregation for years came to me and said that they were no longer going to be apart of our church. I asked them if there was anything wrong and they said; no. So, I probed a little deeper and asked if they would be attending somewhere else. They responded that they wouldn’t be attending anywhere since they no longer felt like church was essential for them. As a Pastor for nearly 20 years I wish I could say this was an isolated incident, but unfortunately this type of situation is all too common.
Here Are 7 Ways Christians Make Church Non-Essential:
1. SOME CHRISTIANS ARE FORFEITING WHAT THEY NEED MOST IN EXCHANGE FOR WHAT THEY WANT NOW
Just like going to the gym isn’t necessarily fun, and eating healthy isn’t always easy. Church isn’t always fun and easy either. But it is still healthy to our soul and provides some of the essential ingredients to living an abundant Christian life. So, whether your church is hosting drive-in services, online services, or is meeting in smaller groups – commit to staying involved.
2. SOME CHRISTIANS ARE ALLOWING THE GOOD THINGS IN THIS WORLD TO REPLACE THE BEST THINGS GOD HAS FOR THEM
Most of the time what keeps people from church is not bad, wicked, & sinful things, but more than likely it’s good things that just end up crowding out better things – like church. While there are a lot of opportunities that exist in our world. Rather than letting other things be your reason for missing church, let church be your reason for missing those other things.
3. SOME CHRISTIANS HAVE ALLOWED WEEKLY CHURCH GATHERING’S TO BECOME OPTIONAL IN THEIR PERSONAL LIVES
We like to think that we’re too busy and we don’t quite have the time for church attendance every week. But I find that we typically make time for what’s most important to us. So rather than say, I’m too busy for church. Be honest with yourself and others and simply say, “it’s not my highest priority at this time.”
4. SOME CHRISTIANS ARE PRIORITIZING THEIR OWN PERSONAL CHURCH PREFERENCES ABOVE GOD’S MISSION FOR HIS CHURCH
There are many stories of people who stopped going to church because they didn’t like the music, or the pastor’s wife didn’t talk to them, or the church was changing some of its methods. Or they don’t prefer online church or watching a service on the internet during this season of shelter in place. However, none of these are good reasons to stop attending your local church. Church was never about getting what you wanted out of it, church is a place where we go to serve, love and sacrifice for others so we can accomplish God’s mission of discipling the world. So as long as those things are happening we should continue to be a part regardless of whether or not the church fulfills all our personal preferences.
5. SOME CHRISTIANS ARE BECOMING DISENCHANTED WHEN CHURCH DOESN’T AUTOMATICALLY FIX THEIR PROBLEMS INSTANTLY
It’s easy to view church as a lucky charm that should fix all our problems quickly. But attending church doesn’t magically fix your life. Rather, it’s the grace that God provides while living in healthy community with other loving Christians for an extended period of time that really makes the difference. In that environment God begins to change your values, motivations, habits, and ultimately your behaviors that will eventually change the results that you see in your everyday life.
6. SOME CHRISTIANS ARE ALLOWING THE HURT THEY EXPERIENCE FROM ONE CONGREGATION TO KEEP THEM OUT OF CHURCH COMPLETELY
We’ve all heard horror stories about a doctor that was caught in malpractice or did something unethical. But that doesn’t keep us from finding a good doctor somewhere else and going to them. In much the same way, as long as there are humans in the church – there will be hurts. But that doesn’t mean we should stop going to church altogether. I love how the author Philip Yancy said it; “I rejected the church for a time because I found so little grace there. I returned to the church later because I found no grace anywhere else.” Just because a church has hurt you in the past – doesn’t mean that you have to let that keep you from finding a place that will minister grace to you and your family in the future.
7. SOME CHRISTIANS HAVE BEGUN TO FORGET THE VALUE & IMPORTANCE OF A FAITH COMMUNITY
It’s easy to forget why church is important. We get bogged down with relational conflict and distracted by our preferences not being met. But ultimately, church is about so much more than those petty things. A faith community is important because it is vital to human flourishing. And it’s a huge part of our spiritual formation. Like the great sequoia trees that have stood tall for thousands of years even in the midst of storms due to their interconnected roots. We too will survive the storms of life as we stay connected to one another through church attendance.
While I understand that you don’t have to attend church to be a Christian. The truth is, you don’t have to go home to be married either, but it does make your relationship with your spouse better if you do. In the same way your relationship with God tends to be healthier when you consistently attend your local church. I fully get that it’s harder to feel connected with your local church family during this quarantine season. But whether your church is gathering as a drive-in service, or online, or in small groups during this time – stay involved in consistently gathering with your church. So, as we pray for our political leaders to make church essential in our nation, let’s all decide that we’re going to make church essential in our personal lives as well.