It may seem odd to write about how to attend church. All you need to do is just show up, right? Well not exactly. There’s more to attending church than just showing up.
Getting to church, though, is the first step. In fact, for many, it is the biggest step. Recent studies completed or run by organizations like the Pew Research Center have found that only 35% of people attend church weekly while most only attend a few times a year or less. Other studies have found that these numbers could actually be much lower with weekly attendance, for example, falling as low as 20%. Whatever the case may be, what seems clear is that a large number of people aren’t attending church.
The challenge of people choosing not to attend church, though, isn’t new. In fact, this has been an issue since the beginning of the church. Take a look at what it says in the book of Hebrews:
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching”
– Hebrews 10:24-25
Since the beginning of the church, it seems that people have struggled with making the commitment to get together with others for church. This is why God encourages us to stay connected to the church. So then why is there this struggle? Could it be that the struggle to show up at a church service might be related to how we choose attend?
I believe there is a direct connection between our willingness to attend church and how we approach our time when we actually choose to show up. Not only that, but I believe our mindset when we are at church directly impacts how much we get out of our church experience and our ability to personally give our best to the church we attend.
So we need to make sure that when we show up we are approaching our church experience in the right manner, and one of the most impactful ways we need to align our minds is this:
We need to go to church with a spirit of anticipation and not evaluation.
When attending church, we need to be expecting God to speak to our hearts. We are to be at church like children before a loving parent, understanding that whether it is a time of conviction, celebration, or both, we know that God has our best interests in mind and we will be blessed as a result of having shown up. We should show up expecting God to do a good work in us.
Too often, though, people approach church with a consumer mindset. They continually rate the quality of the music, the message from the pastor, and all of the aspects of the worship service in their minds, yet they miss out on the more important reason for showing up. They assess rather than experience. If we aren’t careful, all of us can approach our time at church like this. We can act like judges at a talent show rather than engaged participants in the real event aimed at changing our lives and others.
When we attend church, we are to come with the conviction that God is always up to something, we are there for a reason, and He is able to impact us along with others, far more than we could imagine. Or to put it another way, we need to have a measure of faith when we attend church. As it says in Hebrews, chapter 11:
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
– Hebrews 11:6
We need to earnestly seek God. When we do, we will be blessed, and this truth certainly applies to how we are to attend church. Now, some of you may be wondering “What if I’m not sure He exists?” Well, the good news is that you can be, and I will address this topic in a future series. Don’t worry if you have doubts. This is normal, and what’s awesome is that even in the midst of your doubts, God will meet you there, if you are simply open to it.
Attending church is meant to be an experience where God genuinely impacts our lives. One essential aspect for this to happen, though, is that we need to show up, and do so with a sense of anticipation of what He will do.
In part 2 of “How to Attend Church”, I will continue to address the topic of attending church. It is my hope that you are looking forward to what is coming next.