pain-emotion8

Church attendance for the poor in health

When we preach or teach on church attendance, we need to be aware that not everyone is on equal footing.

The blanket statement that it’s a sin to miss worship could place an unfair burden on some brethren. For the healthy this seems simple, but for the unhealthy it takes on an entirely new perspective.

As an aside, the idea that missing worship sends us to hell isn’t productive anyway.

Teaching on attendance should be rooted in devotion rather than doom. When attendance is organic, arising out of our love for the Lord, rather than our fear of hell, we find happier and more productive Christians.

We should be in worship because we’ve chosen to put the Lord first (Matthew 6:33). As transformed Christians, we should be present to express our gratitude and devotion to the Lord and together share in our blessings (Hebrews 10:22-25).

The more we place secular activities over spiritual ones, the more danger we find ourselves in spiritually. When we regularly choose to miss worship, it’s symptomatic of larger issues.

For members who are chronically ill, attendance is a complex idea. Some are in perpetual pain and getting out in all weather, walking, driving and sitting in a pew are daunting tasks.

They risk far more to be there than others realize. If they attended when “they felt like it,” they would never be there.

Shaming them is ridiculous. Instead, we should encourage them to examine the bigger picture. They should be aware of their limitations and always consider their motivations.

Are they hesitant to go today because they are unable or are they simply taking the easy path? Is their decision going to hurt them spiritually?

The chronically ill must be brutally honest with themselves and their motivations. Pain and discomfort in this life isn’t a reason to leave the Lord and miss heaven (Revelation 21:4). The more we stay away, the more inroads we give Satan (John 8:44). Is it worth it?

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Richard lives in Florence, Alabama and is married to Deirdre. They have three daughters. He is an avid reader, devoted writer and lover of history and research. He is the author of "The Most Important Question" and is working on more books.

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9 thoughts on “Church attendance for the poor in health

  1. Richard, I’m glad for your empathetic edge (I might surmise that it is at least somewhat proportionally related to your personal health challenges), and that you’re willing to share. We – especially those of us who proclaim for God – need to be reminded to be ever-cautious of how we express certain ideals, and to know well those to whom we speak. If not, we run the risk of not only unnecessarily hurting or shaming people, but also harming our own credibility as communicators for God. Thanks for writing this. Well done.

      1. I was filing away some notecards (quote cards), and came across this one tonight, rather fortuitously I think. Thought I’d share…

        “A weak, or hostile, or insensitive pulpit can destroy more in a matter of minutes than can be built up with many hours of dedicated labor” (Ira North, Balance, p. 13).
        God bless, 🙂

  2. Bro. Mansel this was an eye opening article for me. I’ve been trying to get better with my attendance. It’s hard sometimes because sometimes I have rough sleepless nights or anxiety then the meds I take make me sleepy and if I stay awake I look drugged up. It’s embarrassing that I can’t stay awake or to come to church looking as though I’ve been doing drugs. Then there are days when I don’t feel like leaving my house and I stay locked up in doors. But I’m getting better at my attendance and I question my motives and I continue to tell myself I can’t worry about what others think of me. Church is for worship and praise to the Lord. Yes church is to gather and commune with our Christian brothers and sisters but it’s also a personal experience.
    Thank you for this it is very inspirational.

  3. In Hebrews 10:16-25, the context is that God’s covenant and law is in the Christian’s heart, because of forgiveness in the blood of Christ we have confidence to approach God through our great high priest, Jesus in worship and prayer. We can worship when we are alone, but we are to consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together…but encouraging one another. We need to be a loving group of Christians who reaches out to the elderly and those in bad health so that if they cannot meet with the group, some of the group can meet with them.

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