This issue has been weighing on me of late. This is probably due to the fact that I will (hopefully) be serving in a church in some sort of ministry position in the near future. The issue of church attendance is one that I think needs to be addressed, especially to people of my age/generation and younger. It is a well known fact that the church bleeds twenty-somethings. Kids who were active in youth group go off to college, stop going to church, and don’t come back (some do eventually come back when they have families of their own). A lot of these people, if you asked them, would tell you they are definitely Christians. They could tell you about their conversion and baptism and probably relay many of the basic truths of Christianity. But for some reason these Christians do not feel the need to go to church, or if they do feel the need, it is not pressing enough to make them change their behavior.
Here are some of the classic reasons why people don’t go to church:
1. The church is full hypocrites- This is one of the oldest excuses and also one of the lamest. Folks, the church is full of sinners. It is full of broken people who often fail to live up to the standards of Scripture. Still, they are there. They are in an environment where they are regularly being taught the truths of Scripture and are surrounded by other Christians. The truth is, when it comes to living out our faith we all have areas of hypocrisy we need to work on. If you don’t attend church and you are a Christian you are a hypocrite, you need to repent, and you need to get plugged in to a local church.
2. I can’t find the perfect church for me- Wow! That is an incredibly selfish and American statement. Yes, I need a perfect church. One that perfectly caters to my every desire for what a church should look like. You will never find that church. Every church will have some program, person, or practice which you find absolutely annoying. You still need to go and get involved. You will find that once you actually start getting involved with a local body that the annoyances you once thought were deal breakers were often just your own selfishness and pride.
3. I don’t have time/am too tired- There are some people who have genuine reasons they can’t attend church regularly on Sunday. They have a job with little flexibility and in order to provide for their family they have to make the sacrifice of not having regular weekends off. For some people, they simply put their jobs or their own personal leisure time above the gathering together of Christians for corporate worship and study. You have to make church a priority. This means that you do your best not to work on Sundays. This means that you don’t stay up so late on Saturday night that you are too exhausted to come to church. This means that even when you are swamped with school work you still come to church. This means that you make the sacred a higher priority than your own work/study/leisure time.
Those are just three of the most common excuses for not attending church. Basically what it comes down to is idolatry. Are you putting something in your life ahead of Jesus and the corporate gatherings that are vital to learning more about Him? If you are, than you are committing the sin of idolatry. Don’t hear me wrong on this. I’m not saying that church attendance makes you a Christian or saves you. I am saying that when you put it so far down on your priority list that you can’t take a few hours out of your week to gather with other believers and worship the Creator of the universe, you have started to remove the Creator from His rightful position at the center of your life and put other things there. That is a classic case of idolatry and I think it is rampant in the excuses people make about not going to church.
Stop making excuses and get in a church. If we expect to be able to live out our faith in an increasingly secular world than we need the growth and accountability that comes with being an active part of a local church body. You need Christian friends to hold you accountable when you sin. You need the regular teaching of Scripture if you don’t want your faith to stagnate. You need church.