I know I’ve done it and I’m sure you have too. Out of guilt, compassion, and even empathy, we reluctantly approve and attempt to accommodate less than best practices. People are so busy with the activity in life we bless busyness by lowering the standard of spiritual expectations. A Christian’s non-involvement or non-participation is dismissed because of other obligations. We streamline schedules and simplified ministry in an effort to “fit into” the busy congregant’s schedule. I understand this all too well. I’m a husband, father of three, with a mortgage, cars, football, baseball, basketball, cheerleading, band, and everything else you can imagine going on in life. Yet, my busyness with the temporal doesn’t dismiss my obligation for the eternal. You can’t live an effective spiritual life fitting Jesus into your life; He must be your life.
As I get older (now 46), I see things quite differently than I did at 30. Call it age, call it experience, of course I prefer to call it wisdom. There is incredible life long value in one’s participation in spiritual meetings. I’m going to run the risk of being misunderstood (deemed legalistic) here, but I believe with few exceptions that one’s spiritual growth/life is tied to one’s church attendance and participation. I have known very few people who have been intentionally absent from church and have grown spiritually at the same time. There’s a reason why God instituted the church. With all its human misgivings, it is still the Bride.
Here’s my expectation as a pastor and undershepherd (because I care and have an insight into spiritual growth), Christians ought to be in church on a regular basis (as often as the door is open). If I do not communicate that expectation, I am not caring for those I serve. You may or may not agree with me on that statement, but I am thoroughly convinced this is an appropriate non-negotiable expectation. Scripture teaches us not to forsake the assembly. Let’s not waste time with attempting to justify absences, let’s make the commitment to be present. Every time you miss, you miss an opportunity God has for you.
I’m going to quit idly dismissing some of the nominal attendance patterns for the people I have the opportunity to serve. Make church a priority. If God has the expectation that we assemble on a regular basis, I don’t think that’s too great an expectation. Spiritual growth is at stake and one’s ability to do life well hangs in the balance with attendance patterns.
Choose church; live well.