If you know what Christmas is about, you’re likely going to be at church on Christmas Day, or perhaps the Christmas Eve mass at your local Catholic church, if that’s your bag. Or maybe you’ll be going because it’s a family tradition, and it’s somewhat expected of you, regardless of whether you believe in the core definition of Christmas.
But what about the rest of the year? It’s reported that about 21% of Americans attend church weekly (even though 41% say they do). Odds are, you won’t be at church again until Easter, or even next Christmas. Or at all.
I’m not suggesting that church attendance is necessarily a sign of adherence to the faith or even representative of integrity, but it shows how much value people place on Christianity right now. It’s not a big deal to most people. It’s irrelevant, or boring. The Bible is also becoming increasingly marginalized in our culture.
But maybe it’s not really the case — perhaps somewhere under your skin, there’s still motivation to stick it out, to be obedient to what the Bible says, and to be proactive in your faith. Maybe you really want to go back to church. So why don’t you?
Numbers 7 is another long, arduous list (I confess, much of it is redundant in nature), but it illustrates a staggering truth regarding Christianity in America: many Christians are unaccounted for.
When the Israelites are getting the tabernacle underway, God asks a representative of each tribe to show up and offer some stuff over the course of twelve days. Dutifully, each tribe is obedient to the command. All of them show up; none of them are too busy, nor do they decide it’s inconvenient or irrelevant.
Are you among the unaccounted? Over three-quarters of people identify with some kind of Christian faith. Where are you?
1) Don’t make excuses. Most church services start at 10:00 on Sunday. What time do you get up for work every morning? Most church services do not last more than an hour and a half. Churches work to make their services available to the majority of people. So it’s really up to you to put the excuses away and just go.
2) Prioritize the day. A lot of people don’t go to church because they’re “doing something on Sunday.” If you don’t make plans to do anything else on Sunday morning, you’re more likely to actually go. If you keep making plans, you’re probably doing it on purpose.
3) Make sure the Bible is being taught at your church. The Bible IS the Word of God. If your church says Jesus Christ is Lord, and they’re opening their Bibles every week, you’re on the right track. This doesn’t necessarily mean the church is healthy, but it’s still a good start.
4) Know someone else (or get to know someone.) If you have a friend that goes, it will be automatically less “boring”, you’ll be held accountable to making it a priority, and you’ll have the opportunity to go to lunch with someone to discuss the sermon. Or the worship leader’s face after his guitar string broke.
5) Don’t affiliate. You don’t have to be a “member”; you don’t have to “identify” with a particular denomination. If Jesus Christ is truly Lord of your life, you are a child of God. This makes you a Christian. Any other attachments to this notion are just pet doctrines.
Thousands of years ago, all of the tribe leaders of Israel showed up with offerings for the temple: a silver platter, a silver bowl with flour and oil, a gold pan with incense, and a whole bunch of animals. You just need to offer your time. Do it.