A little girl whose family had just moved to a large city became lost. She went to the corner policeman who began quizzing her but without success, trying to determine where she lived. Finally, the child said, “If you will take me to church, Mister, I can find my way home.”
Church attendance has been on the wane in recent years, and the 2020 Covid-19 shut down has caused new patterns of church attendance that have not yet been subject to measurement. Some church experts are projecting that when the pandemic is over, most churches will have 20% fewer people regularly attending Sunday mornings at one location than they had attending pre-corona virus days. More people, it is assumed, will have adjusted to worshipping on-line and will not show up for on-site, in person worship. But, church attendance has always been and ever will be for New Testament churches in line with the Biblical injunction to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, and the promise of Jesus that “where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
A local lumber yard sign read: “81% of your customers will be lost ten years from now; 1% will die; 3% will move away; 5% will give their business to a friend; 9% will be lost to competitors; 14% will quit due to dissatisfaction with a product and 68% will quit because of an attitude of indifference on the part of an employee.” Could it be that those statistics will reflect church attendance patterns too?
But faithful, regular attendance is so very important. Biblical commentator John Stott in one of his commentaries said that Christians are players in a “cosmic drama.” The stage, he said, is the world; the actors are the church; the writer, producer and director, God; cosmic beings are rulers and authorities in heavenly places. Stott said that through the old creation God reveals His glory to men, and through the new creation (the church) He reveals His glory and wisdom to the angels, principalities and powers (I Cor. 11:10). Thus, how we look at our responsibilities regarding the church and our relationship to it, even in matters of attendance to its regular services, takes on a new and elevated significance: by our faithfulness we can teach angels, both the fallen angels that chose to follow Satan’s coup against God, rebelling against His authority; and the unfallen angels who chose not to follow Satan, but remained unfallen and confirmed in holiness. We teach the former lot of angelic demons that they made a mistake in believing Satan’s lie and in sinning against their Creator, leaving their “first estate,” (I Pet. 1:10-12; Jude 6). We teach the latter lot, unfallen angels, that they made a wise choice in bowing to God’s sovereign authority; and we are demonstrating by our faithful attendance and obedience to His command that we are “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together” and that we have made the same choice.
So, if we are His disciples, it is incumbent upon us to “show up,” if at all possible, when the Body meets for regularly announced worship together. Like Mrs. Ellen Craig, reported by the Nashville Banner, who had perfect attendance in Sunday School for 1,040 Sundays, or twenty years! “Doesn’t Mrs. Craig ever have company drop in on Sunday? Does she never have headaches, colds? How about week-end trips, family reunions, or times she would sleep in, or stay at home because of rain or snow; or, has she never gotten her feelings hurt by someone in the church?” (Richard DeHahn)
The reasons for not attending church regularly were once parodied by a clever wag: “I never wash because I was made to when I was a child; people who wash are hypocrites—they think they are cleaner than everyone else; there are so many different kinds of soap, I could never decide which one is right; I used to wash but got bored with it; I still wash on occasions: Easter and Christmas; none of my friends wash and they seem to get along all right and after all, people who make soap are only after your money!”
How is it with you? Do you treasure times together with His family, meeting as one Body? Don’t forsake it! Joyfully embrace it.
I leave you with a humorous story a pastor friend of mine shared with an adult Sunday School class he was teaching one Sunday, stressing the importance of faithfully attending Church and its services. He said: “In the Puritan churches they dealt with absences from church in this way: miss one Sunday and you get no meals on Monday; miss two Sundays and you receive a whipping; miss three Sundays and you go to jail; miss four Sundays…NO ONE MISSES FOUR SUNDAYS!
“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another; and so much the more as ye see the day approaching.” (Hebs. 10:25)
“I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord.” (Ps. 122:1)