It’s that time of year. Resolutions. Big ones, small ones, some as big as your head. In this little post, I hope to offer up a different angle. One you may not have thought of.
Here are three things Christians should be doing this year (and every year) as it relates to their local church.
1. Get to service on time.
This may not seem like a big deal—but trust me, it is. Think about what happens Sunday to Sunday. You have a guy preparing songs, volunteers out the wazoo (from the stage to the front door to the children’s ministry), and you have a pastor who has put in hours of study to preach a sermon for your joy in Christ, and your response is to show up late? In the words of Stephanie Tanner: “How rude!”
Showing up late hardly communicates thankfulness and excitement to meet with God’s people and worship God together through singing and a sermon. It actually communicates, “Let’s get this done already.”
Do you have that family member who is always late for everything? Don’t be that guy.
It is incredibly discouraging to see a half empty room as the service begins. Not because of anything consumeristic, but because the family is late, and we are gathering together to worship our God. And sadly, most people are late because they just don’t care that much—they almost stayed home anyway. Listen, I get being late because you have small kids; they are cute speed bumps to your timeliness. I get that. I have two of ’em. But that’s not most people. If you are perpetually late for the gathering, check your heart, evaluate your reason(s) for going in the first place.
Are you fifteen minutes late for the movies? No way. Twenty minutes late for your job? Not for long. You’ve been made new in Christ by Christ, and it is your Christ that you are coming together to worship—why be late for that!? Maybe it’s because Jesus doesn’t excite you.
Resolve to get to your church’s gathering on time.
2. Faithfully be a part of your church.
I’m going straight for the gullet on this one. Some Christians have such a horrible record for attending their church’s weekly gathering, it’s embarrassing. I actually know some people who profess to be Christians and missed more Sundays than they attended in 2013. If that’s you, get on your knees, confess your sins, repent, and commit to actually being a part of the Body of Christ.
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Heb. 10:24–25)
The Bible calls for more than mere attendance. It calls for action, a stirring of each other toward Christ. You can’t do that at Bedside Baptist. Vacation is one thing. Sickness is another. But sitting in your jammies because you are too tuckered out—that’s just crazy. Some folks make a habit out of missing fellowship with the saints—that’s dangerous. You need the fellowship, because you are closer than you think to self-destruction.
“But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.” (Heb. 3:13–14 ESV)
I’ve never met a mature Christian who thought lightly of weekly local church attendance. And I’ve met plenty of immature ones that do. When you read Paul’s letters, there is this chorus from Paul saying, “I can’t wait to see you.” Mature Christians long to see other Christians, it’s the silly sheep who think, “I can do without them.” Weak sauce attendance stems from pride. “I don’t need those people. I don’t need that sermon. I don’t need to sing. Weekly attendance is legalistic.” Foolishness.
And if you are reading this and you don’t have a local church. Find one. Give your life to one.
Resolve to faithfully attend and engage at your local church.
3. Faithfully give of your tithes and offerings.
If you are a Christian, you are commanded by the Lord Jesus to give.
“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor. 9:7 ESV)
The New Testament doesn’t tell you how much to give, but it for sure commands you to give. And this amount isn’t meant to be flippant. The amount has been decided in your heart between you and the Sovereign God. Be careful at making a careless arrangement. The amount you decide on should bring you joy, not an internal, “Rats!” Deal with your heart and the idols that are uncovered as your resolve to give faithfully to the mission of the gospel at your local church.
Giving is a grand example of gospel preaching to our own hearts. It’s an opportunity to say, “Money is not my savior. Jesus is my Savior. And I want to maximize my dollars for the spread of his name at my local church and beyond.” You can’t do that while saving up for your tiger on a gold leash.
Adjust your budget. Do what you must to obey Christ.
Resolve to give faithfully to your local church.
Don’t make Jesus the priority—make him the center of your life, the point person from which all of your priorities flow. Do that, and I believe you’ll get to your church on time, you’ll without compulsion, and you’ll give cheerfully.