August 13, 2018

Today is a weird Monday here at FBCWS. First, it’s August and it’s raining which is odd right there. Next, I pulled into the parking lot and there wasn’t a parking spot in sight . . . so I parked in the striped area (don’t tell anyone). The reason is that it is back-to-school time and our local school administration building is next door which means they use our parking lot sometimes. And the last reason is that I am halfway in vacation mode today (more on that later). But I hope your Monday is off to a ridiculously great start!!
Today I wanted for us to stop and think about why we go to church. I am going to assume most of you reading this attend church somewhere but why? I recently came across an article with a recent survey about this and I wanted to share it with you.
“Here are the top 10 reasons given by Americans who attend religious services at least once a month, according to Pew. Survey respondents were allowed to give more than one reason. The percentage refers to people who said this was a "very important" reason for their decision:
1. To become closer to God. (81%)
2. So their children will have a moral foundation. (69%)
3. To become a better person. (68%)
4. For comfort in times of trouble or sorrow. (66%)
5. They find the sermons valuable. (59%)
6. To be part of a faith community. (57%)
7. To continue their family's religious traditions. (37%)
8. They feel obligated to go. (31%)
9. To meet new people or socialize. (19%)
10. To please their family, spouse or partner. (16%)”
I found this list interesting not just because it was good to know sermons are valued but because the deep desire of most people seems to be a genuine search to try to draw closer to God. In reality going to church is a good first step in that journey but there is so much more involved if we really want to have a close relationship with Him. It would be like me setting aside an hour each week to be with my wife and then wondering why we weren’t really that close. There is no substitute for TIME when it comes to any relationship. That one hour is very important but it takes many more hours each week to cultivate a strong walk with God. Growing closer to Him can’t be a once-a-week, check-it-off-my-list kind of thing. There has to be a deep desire that is followed up with action. God loves us and wants our love in return. He showed His love for us by sending His Son to die for us. How do we show our love for him?
It just so happens that our verse this week from our Memory Verse Challenge answers this question (Be sure to check out the weekly Facebook Live video). John 14:21 says, “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” We have to “have” His commands first. That means we have to read His word and know what His commands are. Then He says we have to “obey” those commands. So we have to know them, learn them, and then actually put them into practice by obeying them. Love is a verb and it requires that we do something.We show our love for Him when we put it into action. It’s not enough to tell someone you love them. I have a family member who used to tell me all the time how much they loved me but their actions said something very different. Too many times we say we love God and we want a closer relationship with Him but then we maybe show up one hour a week and think that will get it done. Trust me. It won’t. God wants ALL of you. That means ALL of your time and energy.
I also found it interesting why people don’t go to church. Here is another part of that same survey.
According to Pew, here are the top reasons survey respondents gave for skipping regular religious services:
1. They practice their faith in "other ways." (37%)
2. They are not believers. (28%)
3. No reason is "very important." (26%)
4. They haven't found a house of worship they like. (23%)
5. They don't like the sermons. (18%)
6. They don't feel welcome. (14%)
7. They don't have the time. (12%)
8. Poor health or mobility. (9%)
9. No house of worship in their area. (7%)
Sadly, many people are looking for “other ways” to practice their faith. They have missed the fact that we are called to worship together each week. Though corporate worship alone is not enough, it is still the starting point and the place where our faith grows. It is vital in that walk with God as we join together to worship Him and to encourage each other in our own walk with God!
As most of you know I will be gone the next couple of weeks. Jennifer and I are celebrating our 40th Wedding Anniversary with a big trip and we are very excited for it to finally be here. I hope you will keep us in your prayers while we are gone.
I am ON MISSION Today! Are You?