At lunch with several other pastor friends yesterday, a repeated theme of concern was heard: “I’m sorry that we haven’t been in church more consistently of late, Pastor, but we have kind of decided to move our membership to a place where we just feel a little bit more comfortable. We just haven’t felt ‘connected’ so much of late and thought this was probably the Lord telling us to go someplace else. We are just looking for someplace that fits us a little bit better.”
“Connections”—a sense of “fitting in” or “belonging” or “comfort” ARE absolutely critical to healthy spiritual growth. I find it quite revealing that even in the very early years of the Church there was significant enough concern about fellowship gathering attendance behaviors that the writer of the letter to the Hebrew believers included a challenge to break the developing pattern. “…not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some…” Hebrews 10:25
But why the concern? After-all, is it not true that I am saved alone? That is, my being drawn to faith in Jesus was a personal calling and confession, so why the rebuke about church attendance behaviors?
Let me summarize these absolutely essential truths in just three brief bullets:
- Because “hope” is a fragile thing to hold onto when times get hard, I need to be reminded that I do not “hold” this truth alone! “Hold fast the confession of hope.”
- Love and good deeds are not “natural” behaviors, so I need to be reminded, encouraged, even agitated by others to make these a reality in my life. “Consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds.”
- Distractions and discouragement inevitably turn my eyes from the glorious things to come with the return of Jesus and instead get me preoccupied with things that will not ultimately last. We are called to travel this pilgrim hi-way in caravan formations so that when some of us forget where we are going, others can remind us of the Heavenly goal. “And all the more as you see THE DAY drawing near!”
“As your pastor and your friend, I have to confess that I am disappointed in your decision to depart our fellowship. But I also trust the Great/Good/Chief Shepherd and know that He will lead you to the church where He can receive the greatest glory through your serving Him. So in sadness I bless you as you obey His voice. But can I ask you, what fellowship do you sense He is leading you toward?”
“Well, Pastor, I was hoping you wouldn’t ask. But since you did, I will be honest. We just don’t see the need for ‘church’ as such anymore. We believe we can worship God anywhere and whenever we desire. So we are sort of going to begin doing ‘church at home’.”
And just like that, another family is added to membership roster of “The Bedside Chapel” where they are ministered to by Pastor Pillow and Sister Sheets!
See YOU Sunday, Church!