When I first entered the full-time vocational ministry, most people regularly attended Church gatherings. Numerous Churches offered gatherings on Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday evening. It was not uncommon for a person to be in the Church building four to five times a week. They were there for all three worship celebrations, once for some committee meeting and another time for choir practice or some special event.
With time, most Church leaders and Christians recognized this overkill. A family could barely do anything besides attend worship, and pastors were exhausted trying to preach and teach each week repeatedly.
Slowly Churches began to drop meetings from their schedule. I immediately quit doing Sunday night and changed Wednesday night to a small group instead of worship. Eventually, my mantra became simply: “Attend one, serve one and grow one.” Each person was encouraged to attend a worship program once a week, serve somewhere once each week, and be a part of a group that helps them grow spiritually once a week. I still believe this and use the exact phrase I have been telling people for years.
The interesting transition has been with the people. I used to say it to get people away from the Church building. Some people wanted to be at Church every night. They knew no non-Christians, often neglected relationships, and learned more Bible than they would ever obey.
Now the opposite is true. I use the same expression to get people to see the need for a Christian community in their lives. Every Christian needs to take time each week for worship. They need to drop everything and focus their attention on the praise and worship of God. Every Christian needs a place where they can serve in the name of Jesus. I believe the Church is still the best way to do this. There you can use the resources of the community of faith to do almost anything in the name of Jesus. Finally, I genuinely believe that every Christian needs to spend time growing in their faith. This happens through sermons, lessons, and various teachings, but it also happens best with other people. Each person needs someone to connect with them to show them their issues and offer grace with instruction.
After all these years, the need for the community of Christ-followers we call the Church still exists. Every believer needs to spend time with this community, but not too much. It is a delicate balance. I have watched the pendulum swing through the years, and it will probably turn back again one day. For this time in history, Church attendance is still a part of the journey of faith like nothing else. As a Pastor, I am here to lead others to it, encourage it for everyone, and defend it to anyone who thinks it is unnecessary.
We all need the Church, and I hope each of you can find a place to “attend one, serve one and grow one.”