Monday, June 13, 2011

Not For the Reason You Think

I’ve heard my pastor say that if there wasn’t a sermon preached, a song sung, or a class taught that he would want to be at church, just for the fellowship. I believe he is sincere in what he says and of course, our church always has sermons from the word of God and good singing, but I wonder how many people across America do exactly that. How many people attend church because they want the fellowship rather than because they desire to hear the gospel preached?

We’ve conditioned ourselves to think otherwise. We accuse people of going to the lake or going to the ballgame instead of attending church. We’re critical of people—and rightly so—when they schedule their family gatherings on Sunday and go to those rather than attending church. But we’ve conditioned ourselves to think that people wouldn’t attend church just because it is fun. After all, aren’t there more entertaining things to do than go to church? Why, some churches even mimic those activities because they don’t believe they can get people through the door any other way. Those of us who aren’t mimicking those activities have the idea that the people who come to our church must really love the Lord or they wouldn’t be there.

We’re wrong to think that. This really shouldn’t come as a surprise, but people enjoy listening to a man give a lecture. Throughout history, this has been true. In every generation, people have gathered in large groups and either stood or sat while they listened to a man speak. People still turn on the television to listen to the State of the Union Address. People actually pay to hear motivational speakers. And I don’t see many people who sit through church week after week saying they are bored out of their minds. People enjoy hearing someone speak.

That being the case, people’s attendance at church says nothing about the condition of their heart. Many people may attend each week because it gets them out of the house, it gives them something to do with their friends, and it is fun. But don’t tell anyone I said that. We want people to go on thinking we’re making a great sacrifice to go to church every week.