Listen to these classic excuses for not attending church:
– I just feel closer to God in the out-of-doors.
– I don’t think you have to go to church to worship God.
– The church is full of hypocrites.
– My parents forced me to go to church when I was young.
– I used to be very active. I guess now I’m just “burnt out.”
– We just get with our family and have home church.
– Sunday is my only day to sleep in.
– They pay me extra to work on Sunday and I need the money.
– All churches are different. How do you know which is right?
– We’re planning to attend, we just haven’t got around to it yet
(This is the grand daddy of all excuses).
Now I hope you will forgive me if I use the direct approach. I think those of you who use these excuses are being robbed of a rich and rewarding experience. I also happen to know that if these excuses keep you from regular fellowship with God’s people in church that you are living in disobedience to God. (This is a short essay, I don’t have the space to be subtle).
Now draw a chair up to the fire and get a cup of coffee. Put on your steel-toes. I want to blow some of these lame excuses out of the water with my “Bible-Bazooka.” Then, when I’m done well get some extra chairs out for Sunday, because there are a lot of you living out there in “Lame Excuse Land.” Maybe we’ll even hire one of those auxiliary sheriff’s deputies to direct traffic.
Let’s chat about this “out-of-doors” excuse because it is old as the hills (and lake and woods). This excuse smells of sulfur because, like most of Satan’s poisons, it is laced with a grain of Scriptural truth. When you say you can worship God outdoors you are right. According to Romans 1 and Psalm 19, this is one of the ways God reveals Himself to us. There is clear evidence of the existence and character of God in nature. Now if you spend enough time in the woods or at the lake worshiping God you will come to know Him. If you know and love God, you will want to keep His commandments. Jesus said, “if you love me keep my commandments.” Worship God in nature. He will direct you to His word. In the word you will see the command not to forsake the assembly of believers. If you love God, you will be a regular.
If you choose not to obey God, the pews may contain hypocrites, but the woods most certainly do! I hate to be too blunt with armed NRA members, but if you skip church to hunt and fish, don’t shellac your disobedience over with weak theology. Just admit you want to do your own pleasure on His holy day. (see Isaiah 58)
Remember that pagans worship outdoors, too. Just because you admire and enjoy nature, doesn’t mean you are worshiping the One true God.
If you don’t attend church you not only miss out on a great opportunity to know God, you neglect your duty to others. To only worship God alone is selfishness, a very ungodly attitude.
Now, for those of you who can only sleep in on Sunday. If you would attend church a few times you would notice that you don’t have to be at home to sleep. We have our religious Rip Van Winkles who catch a few winks during my riveting homilies. Everyone benefits from my messages. Some rise challenged and others wake refreshed. But let’s not encourage that. Let me just dispense with this excuse quickly. Sleep and sloth should not hinder you from obedience to the commands of God. Wake up and offer to the Lord a sacrifice that costs something.
If you are weary from hard work, let me suggest that you do what we always did growing up. Rise early on the Lord’s Day and go as a family to church and Sunday School. When you return in the afternoon have dinner as a family and then enjoy a quiet afternoon nap. (You can’t do this if you are determined to cram the Lord’s Day full with the pursuit of pleasure). Someday, when your family is broken or your children reject God, our your children’s marriages or homes are damaged, you will regret the many opportunities you had to get them under the sound of Bible instruction and with God’s people. You will wish you got out of bed and did what was right on Sunday morning.
In years of pastoral counseling it is uncanny how often a broken-hearted counselee comes to the office and asks questions my Sunday evening message would have answered, if they had been there.
Some of you who used to attend church say you are “burned out” now. A lady told me that one day and I had to suppress the urge to tell her, “When you say you are burned out on church what you are really admitting is that you are out of fellowship with the Lord. You are burned out on God. The answer to that is to repent of your sin and do the first works. Begin again to obey God. Often people who describe themselves as burned out are admitting that they have been hurt or offended by other believers or leaders in the church and that they would rather quit than seek reconciliation.
If you disobey God to do work on the Lord’s Day that is not work of necessity, but to make more money, let me remind you, “The blessing makes rich and adds no sorrow to it,” but no amount of money will compensate for the pain of the reproofs of God that will come when you do not obey Him.
Now I don’t want to put off the procrastination excuse, so let me deal with it simply. To delay is to disobey. Have you noticed that all of these excuses boil down to one simple issue: obedience. The Bible commands regular attendance with the fellowship of believers. If you do not do that you are disobedient and you are either not born-again or you are out of fellowship with God.
If you stay home and have devotions with your family while the assembly is meeting you are not in church. That is not home church that is having devotions when you should be in church. If you use your home for a genuine house-church, than may God bless you. Keep up the good work.
I know this little piece is blunt, but someone needs to stir up those of you who have time and inclination for everything but the things of God. Jesus loved the church and gave His life for her. If you love God you will love His church. Think about it. We’ll see you at church.