Do We Have To Go To Church? 2

Let me begin with a secret:

Pastors need your attendance. I have been a pastor for something like 33 years and I have often expressed my frustration with those who can’t seem to come to church regularly. From one side of my mouth, I express the idea of grace and following the Lord; while, from the other side, I maintain the message of performance and legalism in church attendance. There’s a reason for that.

  1. Pastors are usually judged by attendance figures.  If attendance is going up, the pastor is doing well. If attendance slips, perhaps the pastor is slipping. At the end of the year many churches present the average attendance for the year, having logged it carefully Sunday by Sunday. So the ones who come regularly are noticed and so are those who are absent. Most pastors keep a careful eye on who’s in church and who is not.  (Some pastors’ wives have even been known to surreptitiously keep an attendance chart on each person.)
  2. Also, pastors are taught to believe that the message presented in the sermon can change lives. Who better to receive that message and have their lives changed then those whose church attendance is sporadic? Story after story is presented in which some wanderer comes into the church and hears a message that grabs his heart and turns him to the Lord. I have often heard people express frustration with those who don’t attend church by saying, “Boy, so–and–so sure could have used that message this morning.” In other words, it is sad that the right people weren’t there.
  3. There’s another thing, something we don’t often talk openly about. People who don’t come to church don’t usually give to the church. When pastors and church leaders see their ministry as dependent on the giving of the attenders then those who are absent are missed more concretely.

So it seems fair to say that pastors are somewhat compromised on the issue.



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3 responses to “Do We Have To Go To Church? 2

  1. graceandgiggles

    Dave – I appreciate, more than I can express here, your absolute candor in this post. Here are my comments…..
    #1 – The pastors who say or think they are being judged by their attendance or lack thereof, would be so by man, not God. It is no doubt more about the man’s character and home life ( 1 Timothy 3:1-5) vs. the attendance figures at his church, of which I can find nothing in the Word.
    #2 – Hmmmm, maybe the way pastors are being taught is part of the problem? My experience is that lives are not changed by sermons, but by someone showing them the love of Jesus minus judgement and hypocrisy in a very daily routine kind of way. Or Jesus Himself, showing up in the darkness of the pit and shining His Everlasting Light on us. And to those who wish that “so and so” was there to hear the message no doubt lost, in their self righteousness, the message their own life needed from said message :o)

    And #3 – Correct! I do not attend church, so I do not give in that manner. The church I tried earlier this year, the pastor spoke numerous times on tithing 10%, to do it was to be blessed financially by God and he said to try it for 3 months and if it didn’t work for you, he would give you all the money you tithed back. Personally, after living years and years and years in bad decision making, my husband and I had serious financial trouble, of which 10% we did not have. I know that the Lord had been and continues to help us dig our way out of a nightmare of a debt, and guides us in giving that fit our situation and to places that I believe in passionately.
    I thank the good Lord above that it’s all about a process and not about arrival. Thanks again Dave! I get alot from reading here. Have a wonderful day! Are we ever gonna get any snow here??

    • You are right, of course. I suppose I should have said that pastors think they need your attendance. But it really is stronger than that. We know (at least I know now) that the servant of God is evaluated only on relationship. Did I get out of Jesus’ way and allow Him to work through me? But few know that. Church people, denominations, even other pastors judge pastors according to the numbers. As an old friend used to say, “It ain’t right, but it’s a fact.”

      And lives are not changed by sermons. Lives are changed by the grace of God. The Spirit moves as He wills and accomplishes His purposes. Sometimes He may use a sermon, of course. He may also use a television show or a car accident. But it takes a great deal of faith and maturity for a pastor to simply give the sermon over to the Lord. Again, most feel judged each Sunday as they share. No wonder so many are discouraged and drop out!

      It would be interesting to see if you really could get your money back. Of course, all he has to do is find one blessing and you are stuck. This is nothing more than gimmickry. So sad to put giving in the context of it “working for you.”

      Snow? I think someone is sending that east…

  2. graceandgiggles

    Thanks for your reply Dave. I realize my long time issues may have come across in my earlier post and I didn’t mean it personal. Lots of stuff being worked out right now. Thanks for your patience and not deleting my words :o)

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