It’s Thursday afternoon and I’m already tired. Sandy and I got up at 3:45 this morning to drive an hour to the George Bush Intercontinental Airport, return our rental car and catch a 7:00 flight home to Indy. Now I’m in the office finalizing some details for the weekend and preparing for a funeral on Saturday. In the middle of all of this I took a minute to check our attendance numbers from the past weekend. If you remember from the previous weekend, I told you that I was going to be out of town so Sandy and I could help celebrate her dad’s 80th birthday and so I could see my mom for the first time in two years. I thought that sharing that information would be a good thing. And I was excited to let everyone know that John Caldwell was going to be filling the pulpit. I even shared a personal story about how much John’s ministry at Kingsway Christian Church in Avon had blessed me at a very vulnerable time in my ministry many years ago. I said, “Let’s have a full house…let’s put our best foot forward and welcome John to MPCC for a great weekend.” Disappointed is not a strong enough word to tell you how I feel having seen the numbers. I don’t want you to misunderstand me, I’m very thankful for those of you who were here but our attendance was well over 500 less than our year-to-date average (and it’s not even Fall Break weekend). We didn’t have a full house and we didn’t put our best foot forward in welcoming John to MPCC.
There are several things that bother me about this past weekend (and others like it). I don’t have the time to go into all of them and, while I’m not the smartest guy in the world (it’s probably not smart to write such an honest blog), I’m smart enough to know that some of the things I could write would not be well received. But the thing that bothers me the most about this past weekend is that there are so many Christians, in this church and other churches across our country, who can’t find an hour and fifteen minutes to devote to worship (in some churches it’s even less time than that). There are 168 hours in a week and a worship service at MPCC lasts for one hour and fifteen minutes…one hour and fifteen minutes. One hour and fifteen minutes to join together with other believers to do nothing but worship a God who devotes every second of every minute of every hour of every day of every week of every month of every year to caring for us. One hour and fifteen minutes to live out the command of Hebrews 10:25, Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (NIV)
Is there anyone besides me (if there’s even anyone still reading) who is concerned about this? Is there anyone besides me who is concerned that our culture has become so secular that Christians - not non-Christians, not “seekers,” not the “curious,” but Christians can’t find an hour and fifteen minutes for corporate worship? NOTE: The word “secular,” by definition means “pertaining to worldly things or to things that are not regarded as religious, spiritual or sacred.” Is there anyone besides me who is concerned that we’re raising an entire generation of children who may never recognize the value and importance of weekly worship because the secular culture they grew up in made Sunday, a day that was once clearly devoted to worship, a day that is now, for many, clearly devoted to purely secular pursuits? Is there anyone besides me who is concerned that Christian parents, Christians who volunteer their time as coaches or leaders in a variety of secular pursuits, Christian teachers, I could go on and on, often don’t seem to see a problem here? Is there any one besides me who is concerned that so many Christians, who can’t find one hour and fifteen minutes for church, are substituting different para-church organizations or Christian clubs for the local church that was established, by God, with a God ordained and God designed pattern for leadership, accountability and mutual ministry? Is there any one besides me…(I better stop)?
This weekend I’m going to do the same thing I’ve done every weekend of my life – I’m going to go to church. I’m going to preach on Saturday night and Sunday morning like it’s my last sermon. I’m going to come back to church on Sunday night for “A Night of Worship and Praise” and I’m going let that experience with my brothers and sisters who are present, carry me into the presence of God in a powerful way. But today I’m going to go home with a heavy and troubled and disappointed heart because there seems to be, with every passing year, such little regard for one hour and fifteen minutes.
One hour and fifteen minutes.