Every good Christian attends church, right? I mean, that’s what we’re supposed to do. That’s exactly what many Christians do.
While Scripture teaches us to gather together for corporate worship (Heb 10:25), the problem is too many Christians simply attend church. There are two groups of church attenders: card punchers and socialites.
Card punchers are those who attend but don’t really do much else. They may not show up to small group, but they will come to the worship service because that’s what a Christian does. Card punchers sit in their seat, half-heartedly sing some songs, pay their tithe, zone out during the sermon, then go home having done their Sunday Christian duty. They can punch their card for the week.
Socialites are like the card punchers except they socialize more freely and attend small groups more often. On Sundays, socialites spend most of their time and energy catching up with friends and learning the lastest
gossip news. When it comes to worship they are like the card punchers: they go through the motions because that’s what a good Christian is supposed to do. After the service they leave satisfied that they’ve done their Sunday Christian duty.
Sadly, many Christians fall into one of these two groups.
There’s little engagement. There’s little participation. Instead, many Christians are passive attenders, showing up physically, but not mentally and spiritually.
I’m here to call for a change… a radical change: stop going to church and do something else instead!
You read that right. We need to stop attending and start engaging.
Stop attending church and start engaging with God
In a previous post I wrote about how one picture reminds us that worship is about our communion with God. Worship is about entering the presence of God, praying to God, repenting to God, submitting to God. In short, worship is about engaging with God.
An often forgotten truth is that a church service (or worship service) is not worship. Worship can and should occur during a church service. However, this requires that we enter the service intentionally seeking to encounter and engage with God.
Sadly, though, many people attend a service like attending a concert or lecture (or both): they show up but do not engage. Singing the songs is not the same as engaging God. Listing to the sermon is not the same as engaging. Going through the motions is certainly not engaging.
Engaging God means seeking him, listening to him, communicating with him, and opening ourselves up to whatever he wishes to reveal regardless of how much we don’t want to hear it. Engaging God means being willing to be convicted of sin. Engaging God means surrendering to his will. Engaging God means focusing on him, not on the service, music, or the pastor.
When it comes to church, God is not the only one we need to engage.
Stop attending church and start engaging with other believers
Engaging other believers involves more than small talk and socializing. It is more than discipleship programs and pre-scripted Bible studies. While there’s nothing wrong with any of these, they are not engaging other believers.
Scripture repeatedly calls us to help each other become more faithful Christ-followers. This involves encouraging, admonishing, mentoring, and supporting one another. Doing this requires developing personal relationships with each other. Furthermore, this means opening up to one another in a more intimate way than a casual, small-talk style relationship permits.
For some this type of deep relationship building comes easy. Others find it more difficult to open up freely. I, and many introverts, fall into this latter group, so I fully empathize with them. Nevertheless, engaging other believers means being involved with each other, helping each other grow spiritually and personally.
Many, though, merely come to church, socialize with friends, then go home without really engaging. Others attend church, go through the routines, then go home without engaging anyone.
We must begin engaging our spiritual brothers and sisters. However, believers are not the only ones we need to engage.
Stop attending church start engaging with the lost
Jesus said we are to seek out the lost and throughout the Bible we are told to share the gospel with others. This includes the lost outside the church walls as well as those within. Yes, there are lost people in your church, some of them may be regular, long-term members.
Evangelism is a ministry, a calling found throughout the Bible. In the Old Testament God declared that his glory should be proclaimed to all nations and all peoples (Isa 66:18-19; Ps 96:3). In the New Testament Jesus instructs us to share the gospel with all peoples of the world (Matt 28:18-20; Acts 1:8). I could list many, many verses, but I think these four make the point: evangelism is the calling of God’s people (Eph 2:10).
Despite this truth, most Christians are not actively engaged in evangelism. Instead of coming to church and being re-energized, revived, and renewed to reach the lost, Jesus’ followers merely attend and go home. We must make the gospel the center of everything the church does from its sermons to its music to its small groups. The gospel should be at the center of fellowships as much as at the heart of of outreach.
When we come to church, we should not merely be passive attenders, but begin engaging the lost. Look for the lost both in the church and in the community. Allow God to prepare you and use you to share the gospel with others. As you engage God and engage fellow believers, let that motivate you to engage the lost as well.
Churches are full of casual attenders, whether they be card punchers or socialites. They come to church, do their Christian duty, talk to their friends, then go home (or out to eat). Worship is reduced to a ritualized service. However, this is not what the church service is supposed to be about.
So, this Sunday I encourage you to stop attending church and to do something else instead. Engage God. Engage other believers. Engage the lost.