I used to believe that some people didn’t attend church because they felt the church had little to offer them. I’m now starting to believe that people are attending church less because attending church is kind of like work, and none of us, me included, are crazy about work.
Now, before you write me off, just humor me for a minute. What does a typical church-going family’s Sunday experience look like?
Depending on what service time you attend, you may or may not be dragging yourself and your kids out of bed. You’re getting showers, baths, dressed, and if you have time, eating a quick breakfast.
You’re then driving anywhere from a few to several minutes to get to church. Depending on the parking situation, you may have a short walk, or you may have to be bussed over to your final destination.
You’re greeted and welcomed with hugs and handshakes from some people you may or may not know. You either wait in line to check-in your kids, or you drop them off to strangers who you hope have been background checked.
You make your way to the auditorium just as service is starting and get ready to stand for the next twenty to thirty minutes as the worship team sing songs you would never listen to on the radio. To complicate things further, during the middle of the music someone passes around a bucket or plate that you’re expected to put your hard earned money in. Just as your legs are about to buckle, thankfully the pastor takes the stage, and you’re allowed to sit down.
Depending on your church the pastor may or may not preach a message that you can apply to your life. Either way, thirty minutes into the message you find yourself wishing you had taken the time to stop and get a cup of coffee on the way in because you’re starting to doze off. Another fifteen minutes go by, and you’re asked to stand again, only this time you’re to bow your head until your neck develops a crick in it.
Then more music, dismissal, find your kids, find your wife, find your car, find a restaurant without a one hour wait, and then get home to watch the last half of the ballgame.
No wonder people are attending church less often, and this “make believe” family doesn’t even volunteer or attend a small group.
I have to admit attending church is hard work, but the benefits are fantastic. You would think the benefits would be enough to motivate people, but I’m finding in my own life that’s not always the case.
Let me explain. Several months ago I decided to start this blog. I didn’t want to take away from my family time, so I started waking up an hour earlier than normal to write posts.
It was incredibly fulfilling, and people actually started reading and subscribing. Then the holidays hit. Kids were out of school, I was off of work, and it became easier and easier to sleep in a little later each morning.
Before I knew it I was trading writing posts and spending time with God in for an extra hour of TV at night and an extra hour of sleep in the mornings.
I knew what I should’ve been doing, but I couldn’t find the motivation to do it. When push came to shove, I chose what was easy over what was beneficial.
It reminded me a little of what Jesus said in Matthew 7:13-14,
“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.”
There are going to be times in your life when you’re going to be tempted to take the easy way out, especially if you’re taking your cues from the crowd.
But, if you’re going to do anything that leads to blessings and benefits, at times it’s going to be difficult. It’s going to involve some work.
So, you have to ask yourself, “Are you going to get out of bed?”
Are you finding that people are attending your church less often? What are you doing to defend against that?