“Now the church is not wood and stone, but the company of people who believe in Christ.” Martin Luther
When you think about it, it’s fun yet a bit silly. Whenever I attend a professional ball game, along with everyone else, I’m caught up attempting to guess how many fans are attending. As you know, about halfway through the game, they place up on the scoreboard several options for the attendance. Fans are encouraged to guess how many are there. I’m not a very good guesser, but it’s encouraging to me when it’s a high attendance.
Do you remember a few years back when there was a concern that professional baseball might die from a lack of popularity? I hope that day never comes. I love baseball. Of course, my first love is the Atlanta Braves. I’m thankful that the Brewers are in the National League so I can see my home town team periodically play when they come to Milwaukee. There’s just something very special about attending a baseball game.
Many Christians think church is like that. They think church is all about attending. It’s not. If you think about it in our technologically driven world attending church is a bit stupid and lots of people have figured that out. The trend is growing as fewer and fewer people are attending church.
You may have even asked the question yourself: Why bother? That’s also why if there’s a “competitive” option (family event, ballgame, weary from work, etc.), people skip out on attending church. Yet, we’d rarely skip work or having our children attend school for the same reasons we skip attending church. For example, an entire family will skip church if one family member is sick. Can you imagine that conversation with the school attendance office? “Yes, our children’s baby sister has a cold so our other two won’t be attending either. After I hang up with you, I’m calling work because neither my spouse nor I will be attending today because of our sick one year-old.”
The reason that doesn’t work is even though we may language it that way, it’s totally unacceptable to just attend school or attend work. And we all know this. If your child merely attended school, you’d soon receive calls from his teacher. “Mr. ______, we have a problem. Johnny is attending but he’s not engaging in class. He won’t bring his books, refuses to interact and won’t do his homework.” If you only attended work but never actually worked, you’d soon find that you didn’t have a work place to attend.
The commonly accepted model of church in America is an unbiblical one. In fact, it’s a sinful one. The New Testament knows nothing of “attending” church if you’re part of the Church; that is if you’re a believer and know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. Today, as there were in the early church, there will be seekers, those who have not yet committed their lives to Christ attending church. But Jesus doesn’t give His followers the option to attend church. Add to that, in today’s culture, attending is kind of silly.
Think about it. Why get dressed, take the time to drive and use up fuel to attend. Everyone has either a TV or the Internet. Most have a smart phone. It doesn’t make sense to attend church. If you’re attending, in light of the time, expense and convenience, a logical question is: “Why go to church?”
While our church doesn’t yet stream its services online, you can download last week’s sermon from our web site. And if you want an immediate church experience, millions of churches do and you can access almost any church you want, anywhere, anytime. Free. That all brings us back to the question: Why attend church? Why even bother?
Let me say this very simply – DON’T. Jesus does not want us to attend church; He calls us to something so much better and greater. We are the church and that must change everything. Merely attending church doesn’t make you much of a church because sitting in a back row consuming church doesn’t make you very good at being the church.
The New Testament teaches that being the church has everything to do with living your life for Christ, demonstrating God’s love by loving and serving others, and sharing your faith with those who don’t know Him. That’s very different than consuming church sitting in a back row, which you can just as easily do sitting at home in your pajamas.
The compelling biblical reason that a Christian should go to church each Sunday is that you’ve moved from being a consumer to being a contributor. You don’t go to be served, you go to serve. There’s something deeply biblical about that, so let’s start with the basics.
First if you’re a Christian, church is not something you attend. It’s something you are. You can’t disassociate from church as a Christian any more than you can disassociate from humanity as a person. You don’t go to church, you are the church. Most of the New Testament is not about the teachings of Jesus, but about the work of the church that Jesus initiated and ordained. Without inundating you with Bible verses that prove my point, you’d have to discard the majority of the New Testament to argue that the church was about filling a seat just attending. Or, that it was a nonessential.
Second, the metaphors in the New Testament for the church indicate commitment, unity and participation. Terms like army, temple, body...to name a few, demand commitment and unity. The Bible compares us to a family. Because Jesus loves us so much, we are to love each other. Because He’s so committed to us, we’re to be committed to each other. Family gatherings aren’t optional, they’re anticipated. The family also has idiosyncrasies and sins. Because we’re family, we love, forgive and help each other grow past them. When there’s a problem, we don’t go down the street looking for a new family. Each member contributes and participates. We look forward to welcoming new family members. In fact, we get very excited about them. We encourage each other and sacrifice for each other.
So to be a little blunt, if you’re looking for a church to attend, this isn’t it. That’s a ball game. At Grace, we’re committed to what Scripture teaches – that we’re family. Because Jesus loves us and we love Him, we love each other. Just as He is committed to us, by His grace we are committed to Him and our brothers and sisters in Christ. That’s the church!
Can we help you spiritually? Can we help you know Jesus better? Please check out more resources on our church's web page, Gracechurchwi.org. Or, call us at 262.763.3021. If you'd like to know more about how Jesus can change your life, I'd love to mail you a copy of how Jesus changed my life in "My Story." E-mail me at Carson@gracechurchwi.org to request a free copy. Please include your mailing address. "