Over the years, people have told me that they can worship anywhere. Some even say their worship is better in the great outdoors. Perhaps this may be true in the short-term. But it is not true in the long run. Over the years, I have seen spiritual drift, encroaching carnality and back-sliding in people who neglect weekly public worship.
My dad used to tell about a church member who suddenly stopped coming to church. After a few months, the pastor went to see the man. The pastor found the man at home alone, staring blankly into a blazing fire. Silently, the man let the pastor in, pointed to a comfortable chair near the fireplace and said nothing.
The pastor made himself at home but said nothing too. In the silence, he enjoyed the dance of the flames around the burning logs. After some minutes, the pastor took the fire tongs, carefully lifted a brightly burning log and placed it to one side of the hearth all alone. Then he sat back in his chair, still silent.
His host didn't say a word and watched all this. That lone log's flame flickered and then weakened. There was glow for a while, but then fire went out. Now the log was cold and there was no flame.
The pastor glanced at his watch and realized it was almost time to go. He got up, moved the log back with the other logs. Almost immediately the log had flames engulf it. The log emitted its own flames. It glowed, once more with the light and warmth of the other burning logs around it.
As the pastor started to leave, his host stopped him. With a tear trickling down his cheek, he said:
"Thank you so much for your visit and especially for the fiery sermon. I need the warmth and energy of worship. I can't glow for God by myself."
As believers, church attendance is of high importance. It is a place we can all come together to worship, serve, encourage one another, and learn from God's Word for spiritual growth. Hebrews 10:25 says:
"Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching."
2. When you don't come to church, you miss the blessing. There have been many, many times, when I have been tired, frustrated, discouraged, and lonely. Each time I almost stayed home. But since I am committed to go to church regardless of
"rain, snow, or nuclear disaster," I went anyway. Each time I have dragged myself to church, God has blessed my effort. At least, I have heard one song that lifted my spirits, got one new insight from God's Word, or had one person that gave me a word of encouragement. I figure if I get just one good thing from my time in public worship, my time has been well-spent. That is the blessing of weekly worship!
3. When you don't come to church, you dishonor God. Sure, there are legitimate reasons for missing church. Grief, illnesses, and perhaps work are valid reasons to miss worship. But car shows, wine and cheese festivals, watching football and the like are not legitimate reasons. I understand vacations but being gone twice a month? One person told me they were
"stressed out" and just needed a day off to stay home from church in their
"jammies." Seriously? It is hard to justify skipping church for such frivolous reasons when Jesus suffered and bled and died for your sins to give you eternal life.
I worked as a realtor during seminary and to augment my income when I was a church planter. The most productive times for realtors are open houses on Sundays. But I made a promise to God that I would never work on Sunday mornings! I believe that God blessed my business and my life far more by honoring God in this way. Number five on God's Top Ten list (Exodus 20:8-11) says:
"Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy." If it is in God's Ten Commandments, we must take it seriously and obey it!
One of my friends owns a Chick-fil-A franchise. As you may know, Chick-Fil-A is never open on Sundays. Chris told me their company makes more in 6 days of business that the other fast food stores do in 7. I think that is true in your personal life too! That's why I encourage you to consider how to structure and balance your work, your leisure, your family time, your exercise time, and your home responsibilities in such a way as to include weekly worship. God will bless your life, work, family, and even your income if you honor Him in this way.
4. When you don't come to church, you teach your kids to live uncommitted lives. By your example you show that God doesn't really matter that much to you. If you stay home when they are kids, they will stay home when they are adults. If you want your grandchildren to follow the Lord, it is the same thing.
I once heard about a man who was blind and deaf. He couldn't hear or see but he was in church every Sunday. One day, his caregiver asked him in Braille why he still went to church. He said:
"I go to church to show everybody whose side I'm on!" Folks, show your kids, your grandkids, your neighbors, and the world that you are on Jesus's side! Be in church every Sunday!!
5. When you don't come to church, it discourages your church staff. They work hard all week to minister to you and to your family. They cleaned the facilities. They practiced the music. They recruited volunteers. They prepared and prayed. And the people of church stayed home. It's like giving a party and people don't come! One of the hardest things to see are a stack of worship programs in the trash can, communion elements unused, children's materials not used, and empty seats.
6. When you don't come to church, guests and visitors don't come back. We have visitors and guests on most Sundays. But if the church family is gone, and visitors don't get greeted or befriended, then these new people think this is a cold church. When the room is not full, there are less people singing and the enthusiasm is less. When this happens, visitors and guests assume that nothing is going at our church. But when there is a happy, joyous crowd that is celebrating God and faith, people come back and we get to help another family or person grow in the Lord. Just coming, singing, and greeting people is a powerful ministry you can have each week!
7. When you don't come to church, you make it harder for the serving crew. When you are gone, someone else has to do your ministry as well as theirs. If you have a ministry and are gone, somebody has to do double-duty. But if everybody shares the load, nobody burns out and everybody is blessed.
8. When you don't come to church, we worry that something happened to you. Our pastors and staff might not call you or send you a note. We have 50 people in our church list who are gone every week so we can't physically contact all our absentees. When I was pastoring a small church, I used to contact the absentees. That sure made people mad or uncomfortable so I don't do that anymore. But we do wonder if you are sick or were in an accident.
9. When you don't come to church, your church staff will not be at our best. Several years ago, I watched an interview with one of the San Francisco Giants just as they had left Candlestick Park for the new AT&T stadium. This player observed that it was harder to play at Candlestick because it was a ¾ empty stadium. They didn't hit as well. They didn't enjoy playing as well. He said:
"We play better when the stadium is packed." The same is true in a church. The worship team is more enthused and sound better in a full room. The preacher preaches better. The Holy Spirit is more active when God's people are engaged in worship. That's another reason to come to church every Sunday!
10. When you don't come to church, you don't build long-term relationships. When we live solitary lives, there is more depression, more illness, and more spiritual malaise. If you look at the book of Acts, they worshipped, ministered, and did life together. The Apostle Paul never traveled alone. In his writings, he mentions over 150 names of actual people. If you go to church a few Sundays a month, come late and leave right away out a side door, you won't have the opportunity to form friendships. Someday, you will need friends desperately. On that day, you will wish that you have come to church faithfully and invested in friendships.
For these ten reasons and several more, I encourage you to come to East Hills Church for worship this Sunday and every Sunday.
Bring a Bible, a smile, and an open mind to let God talk to you.