It’s that season of the year with both wishes and resolutions.
Maybe you wondered what a pastor can wish for. Well, not every pastor, maybe just me…
If you do – here is something to start with (not necessarily the most important).
This has been ‘percolating’ in my mind and heart for a few weeks now. I prayed. I listened. I edited in my mind…
I know writing this is dangerous – but love compels me to do it. The love I have for my church (people) and the love I know they will have for me as they receive these thoughts. I’m secure in that.
I have a great longing to see more people connect with our Sunday evening services (using the abbreviation SES for ease here). There are 4 excuses I often hear:
- ‘it does not say anywhere in the Bible that you need to go to ‘church’ twice on a Sunday.’ True. In fact, i struggle with most of the ‘need to’ type stuff. Maybe it’s my rebellious nature. But to me the Sunday gatherings are such an important part of my spiritual growth. I go to both give and receive. I need teaching, I enjoy corporate praise, I value praying together and I love being with God’s people and talking about our lives, with pressures and joys. This isn’t about obligation but affection. Surely, you can’t have too much of a good thing? Come to the SNS because you love it and because you are so thirsty for more of Him!
- ‘I need time for my family’. Great endeavor! Many times in the past Christ-followers sacrificed family relationships at the altar of ‘churchianity’, with dire consequences. Yet often the ‘family time’ is just an excuse for selfishness or laziness – if we are to be truly honest. The spouse or the kids are not enriched by this time spent together… How about a reconfiguration of the weekend in which we could make room for one of the parents taking turns to go to the SES and come back and share with the spouse or even have some babysitters serve those parents by enabling them to come to church on a Sunday night? I cannot tell you the amount of times I knew that those not present would have benefited so much by what God did at particular times during the SES, especially regarding family life… Come to the SNS because that will strengthen and equip you to love, protect, lead and sacrificially serve your family!
- ‘I can listen to it on the podcast’. Modern recording technology is a great blessing and I enjoy is so much too. But we make the assumption that it’s all about the sermon. You cannot tear-up as you worship together by podcast… You cannot feel the pain as you pray together for a suffering brother or sister by podcast… And you cannot love and encourage others through a podcast either…And think of the worship leaders, musicians and preachers. They prepare fresh and exciting stuff, week by week, with dedication and passion. Like a lavish meal. Do you think they feel anything if more or less people show up for their prepared feast to enjoy? Come because live is always better!
- ‘I have already served in the morning service’. How many times I felt like that. Tired and spent. Rest is important for recovery. Yet spiritual rest comes often in a different guise. Often the best way to refresh yourself is to engage in ‘receiving’ new passion, love and strength as you worship with His people. Being not doing. If we only come to church to do rather than be – we are in danger of either spiritual burn out or Pharisaical religion. Come because you need it!
I encourage you to read these words with a nonchalant humility – flowing out of grace. It’s not a telling off. It’s not a religious rule. Just simply ask the Holy Spirit to show you/your family if this is something you need to reconsider.
I know some cannot come for health, family or health reasons – which of course we all experience at different seasons in our lives.
In the past legalism confirmed that ‘twicers’ were the real Christians. I often fear nowadays that we switched it to ‘oncers’ being the real Christians. Just say no to legalism and yes to a surrendered and grace driven passion for fullness with Him and His people!