When I was a child, I was blessed to have three of my four grandparents still alive and residing in our town. My paternal grandfather passed away when I was three years old, so I have only a few memories of him. But on many Sunday afternoons after church, our family would join my dad’s brothers, sisters, and their families for an afternoon of family time at my paternal grandmother’s house. Those were fun times because my dad comes from a large family, and I had several cousins with whom I got to play.
In addition to Sunday, we would visit my dad’s mother and my other grandparents once during the week. I didn’t mind, and rather enjoyed, going to see my mother’s parents on a weekday. My aunt never married, and my grandparents lived with her. My brother and I were the only grandchildren on that side and, since my aunt had no children, she spoiled us and made it a fun visit. But then we would leave and visit my dad’s mother who was all alone. My cousins weren’t there during the week, so I got bored easily. I dreaded that visit because I knew there would be no one to play kickball with, and the visit would not be exciting like Sunday afternoons were.
Now I view those times from an adult perspective. My dad’s mother was a widow, and she was the one who really needed to be visited because she was all alone. But as a child, I was looking to be entertained. Do we, as Christians, sometimes approach church attendance this way? We should attend worship services with the right motive, but in our lack of Christian maturity, are we looking for the show more than interacting with our holy God in worship? Are we more interested in the children’s sermon because we want to hear what cute or funny things the kids might say in response so we can laugh? Maybe we are looking to be thrilled by the music. Possibly we are expecting the preacher to tell lots of funny stories in his sermon to keep us entertained and engaged.
I am married to a pastor, and my husband and I have served several churches. Over the years, we have encountered members and attenders who are very committed to attending worship services and only miss due to illness or vacation. Some of them have come when their health probably should have kept them at home. We have also encountered members who seem to attend when they have nothing better to do. If our entire congregation was in services at the same time, we would have a packed house!
As a ministry couple, my husband and I do not have the option of skipping church. We cannot take weekend trips or decide to go to the lake on a pretty Sunday morning instead of going to church. However, my husband was not always a pastor, and even as regular church members, we made weekly corporate worship a priority before scheduling any other Sunday activities. Not every service was especially entertaining, but being in God’s presence with fellow believers was important to us. I am not saying church should be boring, but going to church is not about being entertained either! It is about worshiping God with other Christians and hearing a word from Him that will get us through the week.
There are so many distractions in our current culture—things that pull us away from being in our place at church times. Now, I am well aware that church attendance is not a prerequisite to salvation, and a person can have a personal relationship with Jesus outside of organized church. But our children are faced with so much, and they have a better chance of standing against Satan’s temptations if they are exposed to regular Bible teaching. As the writer of Hebrews tells us, “Let us consider how to inspire each other to greater love and to righteous deeds, not forgetting to gather as a community, as some have forgotten, but encouraging each other, especially as the day of His return approaches” (10:24-25, The Voice).
So whenever your congregation chooses to meet, be faithful to attend! Make weekly worship services a priority, and instill the importance in your children. The future of the church may depend on it!
Maleah Bell is a freelance editor and pastor’s wife. She and her husband make their home in Middle Tennessee. Bell regularly contributes to PastorResources.com, a new website providing encouragement, inspiration and support for pastors and their wives.