Mainline denominational churches, as well as independent churches, throughout Martinsville, Henry County and the rest of the United States, are struggling with a very similar situation. Yes, we have a situation! Congregations are generally blessed to be well-matured, with the majority of congregants being more than 60 years old. They have been the core group of believers who, for the past 40-50 years, have been the workforce within the church. They have served on every committee possible, taught Sunday school or been the youth group leader, sang in the choir and probably even served as the Chair of the church Administrative Board or Session (whatever it might be called in your church).
Those same leaders have been there when the church has offered a community meal or put on a special program; inviting the community to attend. These faithful believers – followers of Christ – have worked hard for many, many years. They are tired of being the only ones doing all the work. They need your help.
For those of you who are members of a church that have not been as consistent in your attendance of late, I want you to know that you are missed. Not simply for the fact that we need your help in serving in the ministry and mission of the church, but also because we are blessed in coming together to worship God by singing praises to Him through hymns and praise songs, by gathering around the Lord’s Table for communion, and in hearing the Word of God through the Pastor’s sermon. We want you to be equally blessed through the entire worship experience, each and every week.
I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, ‘It takes a village.’ That mantra can be applied to many aspects of life; including church life. Christ Jesus did not walk around the Galilean countryside by himself. He took with Him, followers who wanted to be near Him, who wanted to learn what He had to teach, who wanted to be able to serve like Christ, Himself, served, and who wanted to love others as Christ loves us.
Being in church on Sunday morning, or whenever your church has a worship service, is an opportunity to do as those followers of Christ did back in antiquity. We can be closer to God, through Jesus, we can learn the teachings of Jesus and apply them to our own lifestyle, and we can serve others by loving them in the same way Jesus loved, not only them, but also us.
As a pastor, I hear a wide variety of explanations, even apologies, as to why people are not in church on a given Sunday morning. The truth of the matter is this: if we want to be in church, we will find an excuse to not be elsewhere. Church will be our first priority. There are way too many activities, events, and even television programs on Sunday mornings that can draw us away from spending time with God. Yes, that means you would also have to spend time with those other individuals who don’t hold to the same ideals as you but they are still God’s children.
One common excuse that I hear from people who haven’t darkened the doorway of a sanctuary in a long, long time is that there are too many hypocrites in church. My response to that statement is always – if you allow a hypocrite to come between you and God, they are closer to God than you.
It won’t be long before we close in on the Thanksgiving holiday – it will be here before we know it. Soon after that, we will begin the season of Advent; a time of preparation for the celebration of the coming of the Christ-child. Yes, he arrived a long time ago, be we still celebrate that time of His arrival. Being in church during the season of Advent, and even for Christmas Eve and Christmas Sunday, could be the start – or the re-start – of a great relationship with God, through His Son, Jesus Christ. Think about how your life could be – still not always easy – but with your Savior close by to walk you through those difficult times, it could be much better. Ask God if He wants you to be in a church this Sunday and listen to what He has to say. We do miss you! Be blessed, be a blessing and be the church!
Mark Parkinson serves as pastor of Broad Street Christian Church. The church is located at 106 Broad St. in Martinsville.