I love our Sunday gatherings. I love it even more that we usually have a "full house" each week. It is an absolute joy that few in the Hopewell flock ever miss a chance to join together in worship.
Being that we are above board on this one, it's a good time to address excuses for missing church. Satan hates it that you are in these pews week after week. And we need to be aware that all the demonic forces of hell are plotting to pull you away.
Being that this is so, let's consider some of the most common excuses for skipping church.
1. I don't feel like going. I put this first because it is nearest and dearest to me. There are many days that I don't feel like going...and I'm the guy who usually has to preach.
Don't get me wrong, I love church. I love our church family. But sometimes my body is tired, I'd like to nurse that sinus pressure, or I have a serious case of the introverts.
Sometimes it can be more spiritual in nature: you feel down, depressed, or have some other options that are a little more fun available to you. These are common snares to worship attendance.
There may be legit reasons for not going to church (by all means, if you're sick, stay home). However, we need to be careful that our feelings are not dictating our behavior or giving us a lame justification for missing out on the worship of the King.
2. I've been burnt by the church. I don't want to downplay your hurt, but we must admit that this is not an excuse to cut out on worship. In all reality, we should expect the ugly sinners in the church to hurt us.
We can remember too that Jesus was burnt by the church in a pretty terrific way. Yet he never gave up on his people or organized religion. Worship was and is still a priority for him.
You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you.
Additionally, our primary focus for worship is to be the Lord, not his people. Scripture urges us to seek the Lord and his grace, to celebrate His kindness, and offer ourselves to him (even with all our brokenness). And if someone poses a problem with that, we are to use the means of Matthew 5:25f and 18:15f to get it right.
3. I've not found a good fit yet. News flash: Worship is not like choosing a pair of underwear.
It doesn't matter what kind of worship style they have or if you feel like you stand out. It's about coming to the Lord and giving him your sacrifice of praise.
You may cite doctrinal differences, and this will sound quite pious. But it's no real justification for avoiding worship. Jesus had some doctrinal differences, and he still attended the synagogue each sabbath (Luke 4:16). As long as it is not heretical, you can still worship there. You may have to grit your teeth and show some grace, but you can do it.
4. I've had a busy week. That's wonderful. I'm glad you are serving and have so many opportunities. You deserve a break. And worship is the best way to refresh yourself.
God instituted the Sabbath because he knew our human frailty needed it. Worship is a part of the rest we so desperately need. As a matter of fact, getting refreshment for your soul is the primary way to restore your sanity and your beleaguered body.
What's best, you can reward yourself with a good, long nap in the afternoon.
5. I get better teaching online. I'm not going to disagree with this one. You can definitely get better teaching from the web. I'd rather listen to Alistair Beg than listen to myself too.
However, worship is more than a sermon. In worship, you meet with God and his people. There's something sacred to being amidst the body of Christ. The Spirit of God comes in a unique manner when the people meet corporately. That's something you just can't get from a video or podcast.
Online teaching isolates you too. If you are in the habit of watching or listening to sermons, then you are missing out on how your gifts and graces (and merely your presence) can benefit the wider body of Christ.
Do You have a Better Excuse?
What about you? What excuses have you made or heard? I'm sure they can't be as bad as these. (ha!) Be sure to send us your best if you have one.
Last Day for the Used Bible Drive
Do you have old Bibles lying around collecting dust? Let's put them to good use! This month Hopewell will be collecting used Bibles to donate to Mission Cry. This ministry supplies pastors in devastated places around the world with resources they could not otherwise afford.
Had Enough of the Excuses?
Maybe you're not a part of the regular Hopewell crew. Maybe you've fallen out of the habit of being in worship and would like to get back in it. If that's so, please know that we'd love to have you come and worship with us. Find out more at our website, or contact me to have a chat over coffee.