Where is Everyone?
Every Tuesday I have a staff meeting. Yes, there are only two people in this staff meeting, my associate pastor and me, but nevertheless we have a meeting every Tuesday morning to start our week. We talk about the health and condition of our church. We assess the positives and the negatives. We pray over our church and ask God to make his will known. We evaluate our goals both long term and short term.
There has been one particular question that has been a topic of conversation over the last month. It keeps coming up and we spend a significant amount of time trying to find the answer only to come up with nothing concrete or tangible. “Where is everyone?” We just spent the last hour trying to figure out this answer.
I do not think this is a unique problem with our church. I believe it is an epidemic that happens to plague a lot of American churches. Big church or small church, the same question is asked, “Where is everyone?” Every Sunday, week in and week out, we are left wondering why so many have decided not to attend church. It breaks my heart. I usually blame myself. Maybe my preaching isn’t all I thought it would be. Maybe I am not preaching what everyone wants to hear. Maybe my leadership is lacking. By the end of the morning I will have convinced myself it is me. I usually pray through this self-blame. I try to account for any thing I need to make improvements on and then I begin sermon prep for the next Sunday.
But today I felt like I should write something down and share it with you. You see, as I study through the book of Acts and take a deep dive into what the New Testament church looked like, I discover a church that looks drastically different than what we call church today in America. You do not ever read the question in Acts “Where is everyone?” What you will read, over and over again, is something like Acts 2:46-47 “Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with joyful and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. Every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.”
I wonder how many Bible believing Christians have really examined these words? How many of you born-again believers would be OK with “every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the Temple?” These believers didn’t have separate lives. They didn’t have a “church life” and a “personal life.” They all had one life and it was the Discipled Life. The Apostles didn’t stand up every Sunday and begin to preach and wonder in their mind “Where is everyone today?” These people loved being at church. But they just didn’t come to church, they brought others with them. This way of life was so important they wanted everyone within their circles of influence to come and be a part of something glorious and divine.
Over the last month I have been wondering if the people at Joy Baptist Church have missed the point? I am not writing and sharing this to condemn any of you. It is my hope and prayer the Holy Spirit would convict you to be so passionate about your local church that you could not wait for the next time the doors opened so you can come and participate in the glorious movement of the Holy Spirit. God gave us the local church so we can participate in this beautiful supernatural community together.
When you don’t show up, you are not only missing out in your own personal spiritual walk but you are also negatively impacting those brothers and sisters who are expecting your presence. We are all in this together. This is how it supposed to work as Acts 4:32 explains “Now the entire group of those who believed were of one heart and mind.” If you are not here then the entire group is not whole. The Apostle Paul would explain to the Corinthian congregation that they were all part of one body. Everyone has a function “so if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” (1 Cor. 12:26)
When you don’t show up, the church is not the same! Yes, the church will go on! Yes, the church will find a way to persevere and still accomplish the will of God. But the church will have to do this without you and that is a tragic outcome. We need each other. We are called to be ambassadors of the ministry of the Gospel! We do this together and not alone. If you read this, it is my hope that you would take a moment and ask yourself these questions. For the believer your answers should always comply with the Word of God.
Do you consider yourself one part of the body and every part of the body is needed to work correctly?
Do you separate your “personal life” from your “church life?”
Do you believe coming to a local church is necessary for vibrant Christian growth?
How many times did you miss church this month?
May God bless you this week and pray that you would make your local church an everyday part of your everyday life!
Joy Baptist Church