Here's another blog post I recently wrote. It's for those of you who don't go to church, and those of us who have friends who don't.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV)
Approximately one-half of the American public is listed as being a member of a church of some kind. Numerous polls have shown that 40% of Americans say they attend church regularly, but counting people in the pews on any given Sunday morning shows that figure is closer to about 20%.
When Americans are surveyed about why they don’t attend church, two things always seem to come up: 1.) It’s boring. 2.) All they want is my money.
Certainly, many have grown weary of “religion” that’s heavy on ritual and rote. While some find comfort in services where they know what they can expect and they appreciate the grandeur and respect for God intended in a liturgical service, there is an increasing desire among some believers for what seems to them a truer and more spiritual worship.
And, certainly no one can deny that they would prefer not to hear pleas from the pulpit for yet another budget shortfall.
There are those who argue that you do not need to go to church to go to heaven. They say that good works can be done individually in every-day situations, that prayer alone or with one’s family is indeed heard by God, or that they just cannot take another dose of church politics or being hurt by the church.
Sadly, these points are true to some degree.
But, certainly we are more effective in doing good works when the members of Jesus’ body work together as His hands and feet, rather than attempting to do it all on our own. And, while we should certainly pray as individuals and families, praying as a group is something that cannot be denied as pleasing to God.
Of course, God’s own word exhorts us to meet together, as the verse above says. Again and again, the Bible uses the words “assembly” or “congregation” as a given fact that believers will come together for worship.
And, when we look at those two complaints listed above, we find that both of them are about us--not about God.
Nowhere in my Bible can I find that the God who created the universe and everything in it, who owns the cattle on a thousand hills, is poor.
Nor can I say that the God who took on every sin of mankind from creation to the end, then died for us to wipe it all away, and rose again from the dead is, in any way, boring!
For those of you hurt by a church or the politics therein, my heart goes out to you and I would encourage you to let Jesus show you how to forgive and to heal.
I would also assure you that not all churches are like that. There are good churches with believers who worship in Spirit and Truth, where the believers do truly love each other, where people do lift up, support, and encourage each other. Yes, there are churches where iron does sharpen iron, just as His word says.
I have stood among the congregation of less than two dozen in a tiny Finnish church in Northern Minnesota. I have stood among medium-sized churches in the farm country where I grew up. I have stood among hundreds in mega-churches--and the size of the church makes no difference.
For when the spoken Word opens up my heart and my mind and my soul to understand the LORD more fully, when God is truly worshipped and you can feel the Holy Spirit in the room, and you can sense Jesus in the midst of us, and you know the praise is rising up to the throne of God like incense—when church becomes about God instead of about me and I am a member of The Church instead of just another guy at church—then church makes perfect sense.
What would you tell others who do not go to church?
I will thank you in the great congregation;
in the mighty throng I will praise you.
(Psalm 35:18 ESV)