I am an advocate of the mainstream media, but boy, do they like to tell us what is wrong with the church and with religion. Last month it was an opinion piece in the New York Times on why churches should stop their online services. This month it was an opinion piece in the Washington Post on why church attendance will never bounce back. (Remember, these are just the writers’ opinions, which are a far cry from the fact-based journalism that these publications should be engaging in.)
Why come to church? Because your life literally depends on it.
If it doesn’t seem that way, then that is the fault of those in charge. Our time on earth is incredibly precious, a fleeting breath, a mere blade of grass. If we don’t make the most of it, if we don’t take every opportunity to talk about who God is, what God in Christ has done for us, and how we can help the Holy Spirit bring in the reconciled and renewed world God desires, then it’s on us.
The author of the Post opinion piece complains that people seem to have no idea about any of this. He says people just use God for their own purposes, so therefore there must not be a God. He repeats the tired old claims that a loving God would not let so many people suffer, that “religion” only tells people what they want to hear. So, he concludes, good riddance, church.
This betrays a faith so shallow that it cannot even be called faith. It’s not the author’s fault. Blame must lie at the feet of those who slip through Sunday after Sunday allowing these dangerous falsehoods to take root in people’s minds.
I am not holding up what we do at Grace as any great model. But I don’t see attendance declining, either. What I do see is a hunger for a regular encounter with the living God that drives home the truth us that God is our rock, our fortress, our refuge, our hope, our joy, our peace. That Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. That the Holy Spirit is that creating, re-creating force that brings life and hope and makes all things new. That these convictions carry us through everything in life that could possibly happen to us which might otherwise crush us, and that we come to know these things through a regular encounter with God’s Word both in our own study and in the weekly encounter with the Word read and proclaimed.
So come, worship, and LIVE!