Not long ago a great friend of mine, who is also a pastor, was going through a frustrating season. Not anything too heavy but just some of the typical stuff that leaders go through on a pretty consistent basis.
At one point in our conversation he summed up his frustration pretty clearly. He said “It’s a tough gig to pour everything you have into a priority that everyone else treats as an option”
He clarified in one phrase what every pastor in this world has felt at one time or another.
Thom Rainer, noted author and President of Lifeway christian resources, has written many posts on the incredible rise in infrequency of church attendance in the last 20 years. This infrequency is magnified if your church happens to be regional in nature and drawing from drives of over 25 minutes away.
So it got me thinking about this question. “Why does being committed to a local church matter and why is consistent attendance something that we should make a priority?”
There are tons of answers but I want to suggest 4 simple and practical reasons that are worth some consideration.
1. We were created to be a part of a cause that will last
Deep down we long for our lives to matter. We want to believe..no, we NEED to believe that our presence on this planet makes a difference. It doesn’t take long to discover that living life only for ourselves is a hollow and empty endeavor that leaves us completely unfulfilled.
The local church is God’s way of connecting everyday, ordinary people to an extraordinary and eternal cause.
Plumbers, painters, bank presidents, custodians, nurses, warehouse workers and every other human occupation imaginable, get the weekly opportunity to be a part of something that doesn’t just add great value to hurting people’s immediate needs, but to their ETERNAL ONE AS WELL.
This is bigger than anything we could possibly fathom and it’s available to us every 7 days.
2. We’re sitting ducks without consistent community
Nearly every collapse that has happened to families, marriages and individuals that I’ve witnessed through these years of ministry began the same way. They missed church one week, then next month, 2 Sundays and before long, it’s been 6 months and they have fallen completely off the grid.
There consistent connection to a faith filled environment and loving church family has evaporated and before long they are entertaining thoughts and behaviors that before would have been huge red flags to their heart before.
The enemy knows how to kill, he’s been doing it forever and has mastered his techniques well.
He has learned that ISOLATED prey, is EASY prey.
Being consistent in church isn’t about getting gold stars from God, it’s about staying connected to a spiritual safehouse of loving support and accountability.
3. We all don’t have time to research and study God’s word in an in-depth manner, but we have consistent access to those who do.
We all know we need more of God’s word in our lives but finding time between a demanding job, making time for our mates, raising our children and trying to balance in some down time, doesn’t always leave us with many opportunities for significant study.
Fortunately, for over 20 years, people who love the Lord and give faithfully to his church, have allowed me the opportunity to invest thousands of hours doing this very thing.
It is our charge, our duty, and our call as pastors, to prepare and be ready to reveal God’s word to his people every single week. We are not asked by God to be the greatest communicators in the world, but we are commanded in 2 Timothy 2:16 to “Concentrate on doing your best for God, work you won’t be ashamed of, laying out God’s truth plain and simple.”
I take this charge very serious as does every other God honoring pastor. It’s not that people should not read God’s word as often as they can, but most will never have 9 hours every single Wednesday as I do to pour through God’s word, mining it’s wisdom and riches.
4. When we honor God’s house, God honors ours
Putting God first in deed and not just in word, yields a supernatural response like no other. There is nothing in any of our lives that a closer, more intimate relationship with Christ won’t solve.
Going to church consistently was never meant to be viewed as a duty to be performed, but rather a delight to be preferred. There’s just something about being in God’s house, with God’s people that settles our restlessness and releases his power in our lives.
To clarify, it’s not the act of just physically going to a structure with other people every week that changes anything. It’s the spirit of WHY we go and the posture of our heart that invites and attracts God’s favor into our lives and families.
I don’t go to church because I’m a pastor or because I have to. I go to church because I love my Father, love my brothers and sisters and need them in my life every chance I get.