The Abominable Snowman is stomping our way! Yes, a big snowstorm is predicted. Our region of PA has a forecast for an apocalyptic snow event starting sometime Sunday. And I can read your mind. You’re seriously contemplating just skipping the church service tomorrow, whether in-person or live-streaming.
Backstage secret. Here’s an underbelly-of-the-beast truth: Every Sunday on the calendar is tough work, but pastors dread such a wintertime collision of nature and scheduled worship gatherings.
Whether you live in our region under the threat of a storm or somewhere else across the U.S. there’s a really good chance you are contemplating skipping church tomorrow. Pre-COVID, church attendance was already trending downward. People had good reasons galore. Sunday kids’ sports, golf with buddies, sleeping in, better TV preachers, fabulous breakfast buffets, or more open treadmills at the gym. “Easy like Sunday morning” is a smooth, catchy song lyric, indeed. And it seems so delightful to roll with such easiness.
The pandemic has produced a host of additional complexities, fears, disruptions for everyone. In that whirlwind, faithful church involvement has become more optional than ever. Good excuses abound and are multiplied.
Icing on the cake for this weekend, there’s a snowstorm coming, and you’re thinking, “I don’t really need to connect via live-stream, and I certainly don’t need to get in the car and go attend in-person. After all, the flakes might start falling at 10:13 a.m. Yikes! That’s risky. And then they want me to wear a mask, stay six feet apart—certainly no hugs or handshakes—and the café menu is so scaled back. It just doesn’t feel like church like I liked it back in 2019.”
Are you really contemplating skipping church again? Really?
Don’t do it. Really. Just determine right now you’ll be made of stronger stuff. Decide you’re still going to attend—or even go back for the first time—either in-person or online for live-streaming.
Here are three bigger reasons you should gather in-person or online this week. Hear me out.
Reason #1: Your local leaders have been uniquely planning, creating, studying, and crafting something really good for you.
Really. Trust me, no matter who your leaders are, their unique gift mix, passions, weaknesses, and expertise, they’ve got something very meaningful planned. If you skip tomorrow, you’ll miss the encouragement, the challenge, the conviction, the hope, and the good gracious help that’s being served up. You’ll miss the songs, the teaching, and the opportunity to fellowship with others. Every Sunday, these elements stir together so you can be inspired to be good and do good in the coming week. For fresh perspective, see Hebrews 10:19-25. Determine you’ll gather. It’s good for your heart. It’s good for others. You don’t want to miss out!
Reason #2: Your local leaders are uniquely available and accessible. After all, well, they’re local.
This should be so obvious, but in the YouTube and TV celebrity status of so many national and international ministries, it’s quickly forgotten.
Andy Stanley, his great dad Charles, Rick Warren, and Francis Chan. They’re awesome dudes, and they are indeed fantastic communicators. Out of sight. I’ve been blessed and learned from all of them. But stop and think about it. They’re not going to chat with you after the message regarding your questions, pray with you in the lobby, call you in the hospital, do your child’s wedding, or send you an encouragement card. They’re hundreds of miles away.
So why not jump into the mix this week with your local congregation? Tap into what’s been creatively crafted by your local leaders in your unique context.
Go to church this weekend. Really. You’re warmly welcome! And welcome back if you’ve been away for a while. Go online or in-person with an open heart, a level-head, with non-judgmental expectations about the music and preaching. Bring a serious others-orientation. Aim to be a blessing yourself, not just be blessed, fed-to-the-full, and encouraged yourself. Go to encourage others!
Reason #3: Jesus went to church faithfully. You should too.
There’s a little phrase that jumps at me in Luke 4, verse 16. We’re told Jesus went to the synagogue on the Sabbath. (Yes, it’s not precisely our present-day Sunday gatherings, but it’s a very similar, Jewish, first-century approximate of our twenty-first century worship gatherings.)
Now here’s the intriguing little phrase about Jesus. He went to the synagogue “as was his custom.”
What’s that mean? He went to synagogue every Sabbath. Jesus was a regular. He was faithful, whether it was going to snow or not.
You say, “Well of course he did, he’s JESUS.” Okay, but think about it; he already knew all the truth there is to know. By nature of his divine position before coming to earth, he was intimately familiar with the best worship and the most sublime teaching. Andy and Rick don’t hold a candle to what Jesus already heard and knew by heart. But he still “went to church,” and because he did, others were abundantly blessed.
You say you want to be like Jesus. You really want to grow to be more like him in 2021, in spite of the horrific pandemic, a sagging economy, and raucous political turmoil? Wonderful.
You say you’re aiming to be like Jesus? Fantastic. Start by gathering for church, either online or in-person. You won’t regret it!
And after all, the really heavy snow isn’t supposed to start until afternoon.
Go to church. You’ll be blessed, and you’ll be a blessing in the mix with others. Really!