A Pastor’s Advice for Church Skippers

America, we are told, was founded as a Christian nation. I have my doubts, but even if I grant the point, I guarantee modern Christians would hate living in Colonial America.

One reason why is because church attendance was not optional. You went to church or you faced fines, stockades, and sometimes imprisonment. I can’t imagine any modern Christians being cool with that.

I know this because the church attendance of the average believer is pathetic. I’m not one who thinks people should be at church every single time the doors are open. But I do think you should be there regularly.

If a church has 52 Sunday services a year, I think attending 40 is not unreasonable. If a church has a midweek service then the number is up to 104. I think a person could make 80 without much trouble (that’s three months of missing church!).

Consider anything else you’re interested in, how often do you make it to those things? What about work? Most places of employment expect you to be there with two or three weeks of vacation plus some sick days. I gave you three months!

Life happens, I get it. But seriously: get to church people.

I know people could make it to church more because modern technology tells me so. Facebook lets pastors know exactly what people did while skipping church. You aint sick. You aint workin. You aint even doing anything productive. You’re just dorking around.

I actually dropped off Facebook because I couldn’t take it anymore.

To see people you pray for, you plead for them in prayer, sometimes with tears, skipping sermons that could benefit them for water skiing, or duck hunting, or sporting events, it just breaks a pastor’s heart. I try not to take it personally and I try not to get my heart broken, but it gets broken all the time.

Even worse, many of these people who skip church for every conceivable reason tend to have lives that fall apart. I always know when people start skipping church regularly that a certain thing is about to hit a fan.

The consistency is amazing. It’s why my heart breaks when I see yet another person get sucked into the things of this world and see their church involvement slip away. This isn’t pastoral defensiveness nor pastoral holier-than-thouness, I’m serious: when people’s lives fall apart the first thing that often goes is church attendance.

One group of church skippers puts up all the good times they are having during church with no shame, no concern for younger believers who may stumble or be sucked into skipping church for equally stupid reasons.

Then there’s another kind of skipper. These people skip church for no good reason other than being “tired.” Then they spend the rest of Sunday putting up pictures of their Bible Study and all the amazing insights they got into the Bible while not going to church.

I mean, I hope so. I hope they were edified, that’s my biggest desire for people, but why the sanctimony? Why do these people only grow spiritually on Sundays when they don’t go to church? Do they ever skip work to grow spiritually? Do they skip the sporting events to read the Bible and grow? Why is skipping church suddenly the most edifying thing possible they’ve ever done?

I’m not buying it. Pictures of Bible study while skipping church sure look an awful lot like guilt to me.

I’m not asking for much. I’m just asking that people get their money’s worth out of their pastor. Show up, the man worked for you. His heart breaks when you skip. If you do skip, that’s ok. Let him know you won’t be there if you want to. But probably the best policy is to skip and not advertise what you were doing while you were skipping. Just skip. Do your thing and then show up next week. That is all.

 

 

Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.
–1 Timothy 5:17

6 thoughts on “A Pastor’s Advice for Church Skippers

  1. As another small church pastor I want to thank you for your blogs and tweets; they really resonate and help. Now this one comes as I have grieved through the night and this morning over 2 families who “skipped” yesterday. Hard for me to find that line between pastoral care and some form of resignation which rises out of limitation.

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    1. Oh man, I feel your pain. It’s hard to get anywhere with someone if they don’t show up. It’s hard to know how to feel, how to react, how to respond, how to move forward when it’s week after week. I wish I could solve it, but I’ve yet too. I will quote the Apostle Paul, “I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart.” I don’t know how else to feel about it.

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