When the calendar flips over to a new year, many of us like to say we’re going to do a few things differently beginning soon after January 1st. We tweak our lifestyles, resolve to make better choices and start afresh. Some of these choices stick; others fall away. Whatever the outcome, there’s value in continuing to try to be better at living life.
However, it’s the first Sunday in Advent that marks the beginning of the new Church year. So, here’s my challenge to those who have found their participation in worship and the life of our church to be erratic or perhaps bordering on non-existent: Resolve, at the beginning of this new Church year, to become more faithful in your worship participation here at Edgebrook Covenant!
Now I know many people have good reasons to miss a Sunday’s worship – having to work, illness, travel, out-of-town family commitments, a much needed vacation or weekend away. I have no qualms with these. What concerns me is when the priority of worshipping with one’s church community is consistently being displaced by other choices. A legitimate reason to miss worship on a given Sunday gets extended by other less important reasons and choices, and before long, it’s been a month (or more!) since you’ve worshipped with your church family!
One respected pollster of American evangelicals has found that people self-identify as being regular church-goers if they attend weekly worship 3 out of 8 Sundays. 3 out of 8 Sundays?!? Less than half the Sundays in a year?!? This should never be! Remember Hebrews 10:25: “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing…”
When we consistently miss worship, we suffer and our church body suffers. We lose perspective. We find it harder to resist our own selfishness. Spiritual atrophy and apathy sets in. We are less alive in Christ.
C.S. Lewis (the inspiration for this year’s Advent devotionals) has written: “There are many things one can do very well alone. Being a Christian is not one of them.” We need the body of Christ, our community of faith to encourage us, inspire us, challenge us, support us, love us. And we need to take our place in the body of Christ and offer those same gifts to others.
So, if you have become a “3 out of 8” worshipper, then step up to the challenge! This Advent season, at the beginning of this new church year, make the choice to live into a new healthy spiritual practice by making weekly worship at Edgebrook Covenant a high priority. If you do, I just bet that when Advent 2017 rolls around, you will find that you have a much deeper faith and much greater joy in your life.
Expectantly, Pastor Greg