People still think of the Sunday morning service as the “have to” part of Christianity. There is no doubt about it in my mind. Why else would many churches only get 30-50% return, if that, on Wednesday night?
Things that have led to our current situation:
- The motivation of guilt is being removed. Some used to attend every time the doors were opened because they continuously heard from the pulpit the sin of forsaking the assembly of the saints. We concluded that it wasn’t a sin leading to the fires of hell if you missed a Wednesday night Bible study or “Sunday lite” service that people stopped coming. If the guilt wasn’t present people didn’t have a reason to come.
- Grace in place of guilt. We have moved toward a grace-oriented approach. God is able to deal with our shortcomings and since we show up on Sunday, surely he can deal with us missing a time or two on Wednesday, Sunday night, or any other special occasion. Because we reemphasized God as loving and grateful many had their one reason for coming when the doors were opened removed and a new reason to come wasn’t put back in its place. So they stay home.
- Excuses – Sunday night is family night…surely that is just as important as being at the building. I know one family that has Sunday night as laundry night and so they don’t come. That is pretty lame in my book. If it is important to you, you will show up. That leads us to the next point.
- Cultural shifts. People are no longer brand loyal. They may even go to several different churches in a given week for various services, prayer meetings, men’s or women’s classes, etc.
People need a reason to come that is still grace-centered!
Grace-centered reasons to be at church when the doors are opened:
- God is graceful enough to surround us with a community of faith and it is up to us to take initiative to be around that community in a meaningful and productive way.
- We get to be here…we should want to! Why? Not because you feel guilty if you miss or that you might be punished and better come forward for missing Wednesday night. You should want to be where your brothers and sisters in Christ are because they are important to God and so they should be important to you.
- Jesus said the world will know He was sent from God if we have unity with each other (John 17:23). What better way to show it than to show up!
- We have a desire to learn. How better to learn than among the community of faith. If we desire to grow in our knowledge of God we would want to be in Bible class. That assumes our Bible classes are of the quality that people feel they are beneficial. That may be a point to consider when attendance is struggling. Are we really meeting needs here or are we just getting together because that is what we have always done? It may be time to step up the quality of your Bible classes and also reemphasize their purposes in front of the congregation to encourage people to come.
- We all need love and support. Many people are isolated and lonely today. Being with other Christians, especially in Bible class and small group settings are extremely beneficial to encourage and help the hurting.
- We are hungry. If you are hungry and the dinner bell rings, you will be at the table without any arm twisting, guilting, or fear of punishment required. Why? Because you want to be there and it meets a need that you realize if you don’t get you will eventually die. Are you/we hungry enough to come?