I have been here in North Carolina for three falls now. I have detected a pattern. The low humidity, warm weather, and off-season travel prices cause something to happen. That something is a large percentage of our people becoming erratic in their worship attendance. Now, I am all for taking time off. Weekends in an area where there is easy access to a beautiful coastline or to beautiful mountains should be used for renewal and recreation. But, what does it say when fairly large chunks of a church don’t attend a Lord’s Day worship service in weeks? Is this all about taking advantage of good weather or is there something more?
I would encourage us to consider that these attendance figures, that I think every church in our area experiences, is endemic of a greater challenge, and that is a laxity toward gathered worship. I wonder if there is prevailing notion that while one should attend church more often than not, that it is just not that vital to be at church every Sunday. So, on top of illness or travel, I would guess there is a fair amount of people who wake up on Sunday mornings and just don’t feel like going to church, that they would rather take a hike in a state park or have a leisurely morning reading the paper and hitting up an artisan bakery. This is just my theory, but I think my sense of things might be somewhat accurate.
In that vein I would encourage you to read this blog by Tim Challies on why going to church for gathered worship is pretty important.
I will follow up on some more thoughts that I hope will inspire at least a few people to re-evaluate their understanding of gathered worship. I hope that many of us will simply desire to be at church when not sick or traveling because we know what God does through that worship.