Sunday worship attendance is a big topic, and to some it’s a hot topic. It’s easy to go down one of a number of rabbit trails when looking at it. I want to try to stick to the point that I started with. Why does a person “need” to “go to” church on Sunday morning? So far I’ve made the points that doing so is not a money grab but about declaring that Jesus is Lord, and that doing so touches on a corporate witness that Jesus cares for a given community. Today, I want you to consider what it is that you’ve received.
The initial post in this series of posts presented itself with the working title for a reason: we are people who have been on the receiving end. So what have we received, and how does that inform why a person might “go to” church on Sunday morning? Perhaps your parents were Sunday morning worshipers. What reasons did they tell you, for doing so? What reasons did you observe operating in their lives, for doing so? What was the message you received from those who went before – if not parents, perhaps from a friends’ parents, or a Christian mentor you met early on in your walk with God?
If we’re honest, there were some reasons that weren’t the best reasons. Some of us were “told” (either verbally, or through observation, or through the priorities that we saw at work) that being part of a church group was about social networking – making connections that would be helpful in business. Some were told that worship attendance was about learning to be “good,” and about living a moral life. Some were told that the church was for learning family values. Some were told that the purpose of keeping “this” going now was so that “it” would still be here for the next generation. Some were given no answer – when they questioned their parents about faith (even about praying before meals!) their parents realized they had no good reasons, and so stopped. You might read that list and think that some of those are better than others. Maybe you’re right – but none of them hits on what church attendance, Sunday morning worship attendance, is about.
What were you told?
Crazy, and simple, as it may sound, Sunday morning worship as a gathered body of Christians is about worship. Giving God the glory and praise that He is due (that’s why we pray before meals, too, by the way). Our engagement in worship isn’t to benefit God, either – we don’t do it because He gets something out of it that He’s otherwise lacking: rather, we worship because it changes us, it transforms us, it gives us what we are otherwise lacking (more on this next time). That’s why Sunday morning worship, and church membership, still has a function in a world where social networking is done online from home or office; why it still has a function in a world where societal values (Christian or not – which should give you pause) are learned from the media; why it still has a function on “the day for family.” Because worshiping God the way He deserves, the way that transforms our lives, doesn’t happen in a vacuum, or divorced from the history and tradition of the Church.
And human lives are in desperate need of being transformed by God’s Grace, by Jesus’ love, by the Holy Spirit’s presence. Yours included.