In part one, I talked about the issue of low church attendance that has been blamed on COVID and suggested that instead of blaming our circumstances, we should look at our hearts and the issue of complacency. If you haven’t read it yet, you can find it here. This post discusses one of two ways to fight complacency – show up.
Many churches have taken extra precautions such as temperature checks, blocking off rows of seats, asking members to wear face coverings, and more. For the most part, I think it’s safe to say churches are doing everything they can to make a safe environment for worship. So, if you are not high risk, but still aren’t showing up, I would guess you’re either scared or complacent.
Fear. If you are allowing fear to consume you regarding this pandemic, let me ask you - where does your hope lie? Does your hope lie in Jesus, who defeated all sickness and pain and death? Or is your hope in doctors, politicians, scientists, news reporters, or any other human who is guaranteed, by the sin and brokenness in our world, to let you down? 2 Timothy 1:7 says “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” Jesus did not die on the cross for you to remain paralyzed with fear. Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” We have to remember that God has the big picture and His plan for us – in our life or our death, in our health or our sickness – is what is best for us and what will bring Him the most glory. Now, I’m not suggesting we run out without our face masks on and start letting people sneeze on us in the name of fearlessness. Trusting in God doesn’t mean you can throw common sense out the window. But it does mean you can “cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) Do you believe in this?
*I cannot stress enough that I fully understand there are people with legitimate health issues who should NOT be gathering in crowds right now. This is not for you. This is for the people living in fear because they are not trusting in a good, right, and perfect God who cares for them. This is also for the people using "fear", "concern" or "safety" as an excuse to not go to church yet have no fear to be around crowds in other settings.
Complacency. Some of us aren’t afraid, at least not anymore, but we got used to the extra time on our hands when everything shut down. Listening to 30 minutes of a sermon once a week is easy, especially when it’s on your time. For some of you, this was a much-needed break. You are the ones who constantly serve and were on the verge of burning out. Maybe you’re wondering if you should go back, because if you do, you know you will be the first one someone goes to when they need help. For others, if you’re being honest, you’re wondering if physically going to church is even necessary anymore. I mean, why wake up early, battle the kids to get them ready, drive to the other side of town and sit through songs you don’t like, that guy who prays for too long, and listen to a sermon you can hear from the comfort of your own couch?
Making the decision to prioritize worship, learning, and service is hard. There are plenty of days that I feel complacency creeping in and I rationalize staying home in my pjs. The good news is, there’s grace for that. The problem lies in making this a habit. How quickly we took for granted that church is something we get to do. Now that things are opening back up, we are free to enter a church and worship together but instead of rejoicing in that fact, we either play the COVID card and “do” church at home or we show up to church with our minds focused on what’s for lunch. We view sermons, bible classes and studies as boring, unnecessary, or simply as something we have to do. So long as we view these things as unimportant or as chores, we will remain complacent. Who gets excited about things they have to do? Going to worship, bible classes, studies, and small groups and being able to participate in serving the church should all be things that ignite a fire in your soul.
You get to worship the God of the universe who created all things with his breath.
You get to learn more about the Son of God who suffered and died for your sins.
You get to experience genuine community with like-minded people who love Jesus.
You get to serve others, being the hands and feet and reflection of Christ.
We also forget that the church was created for community. We were not made to do life alone. We were created to be in communion with God and with others. We have become lazy in our efforts to follow Christ and complacent in “worshipping” alone for half an hour each week. The checklist for the bare minimum got a lot smaller when things shut down and created a false sense of accomplishment for doing so little. But this is not the kind of life God wants for you. He wants more for you. He has prepared more for you. Ephesians 2:10 says “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” I can assure you that you are not walking in the good works that were prepared for you by sitting on the sidelines. Which brings me to my next point – serve. Part three on serving coming soon!