Why I won’t be at church next Sunday

I've decided to become more involved with the local cycling club. Most of the blokes around here aren't much interested in church. Instead of waiting for them to change or thinking that church can be reformed to suddenly be attractive to them its much simpler if I go out to them. I want to mix with blokes in the real world. I can't lead evangelism in church if I'm not doing it myself.

There is a problem though. The only club rides here are on Sunday mornings. Saturdays get filled with kids sport so Sunday morning is the Dad's lycra & coffee slot.

So I'll need to skip early morning church from next Sunday. I can make it back for the family service (just - may be few minutes late) but the Seniors service will be starting at the same time as coffee.

That's ok - I'll get student ministers to cover that & come once a month (maybe when it's raining) to do the Lord's Supper.

To those who have problems with this I'd remind you of some important truths:
1. Following Jesus is a 24/7 thing not just something that happens on Sunday morning,
2. you are not a Christian just by coming to a church meeting,
3. we need to go to the world around and not wait for it to come to us,
4. other people will be able to step up and serve,and
5. we are committed to the ministry of all beleivers not some special and distinct priesthood. If its ok for others at church to be involved in Sunday Nippers or Golf or Rugby then why not me?

If you've got this far let me assure you my tongue is firmly planted in my cheek. Sunday sport decimates Sunday attendance on a scale matched only by the winter flu season.

Why does this matter? When you see a movie it doesn't matter if there is one other person in the cinema or 500 - you are just there to watch. Church shouldn't be like that - instead we meet together in relationships that matter. Often people think just of the 'vertical cost' of missing church - I won't get to meet with God. Less counted is the 'horizontal cost' - I won't get to meet with you. Ironically, sporting clubs understand this. We wouldn't dream of skipping the kids soccer for a week unless they were sick. We'd never put other things on at this time. We wouldn't want to let the team down. We've made a committment. We know it makes a difference if we're not there. Wouldn't it be great if we believed these same things about church?

Before this sounds too self righteous and legalistic let me say we also need to recognize that life is messy. You won't find a verse in the bible that says church must be on Sunday morning or that you mustn't be part of Sunday morning sport. Instead there is wisdom and freedom about how it is we will keep meeting together and encouraging one another in relationship. Some churches have recognised the culture they're in means meeting on Sunday morning makes no sense & have shifted service times- I'm thinking especially of those ministering among the nippers culture. If church is going to genuinely reach outsiders then you have to expect that there'll be lots of people who see the demands of church in direct competition with the demands of their club. When that happens, what do you teach them?

 

Feature photo: Team Traveller

The Rev Michael Kellahan has experienced the highs and lows of church planting. He also understands ministering in a less well-resourced context, and is currently rector of St Barnabas, Roseville East in Sydney's north.

Comments (4)

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  • Stephen Davis
    June 6, 12 - 12:59pm
    I think a solid answer to the question you pose at the end of the article Mike is this - Go out into the world and make disciples of all the nations - when we go out to these events, and I do as I have two sons who play rugby league, I am always on the lookout for an opportunity to witness or form a relationship with the view to a witness at a later date, it is sometimes surprising where this can lead, if you make the effort to do the talking and leave the rest to God, the word soon gets out there that this guy is a Christian.
  • Rodney Kerr
    June 9, 12 - 10:08am
    Taking up a sport or some other activity where you mingle with non-christians is extremely important for a minister to do. I worked out that before I went into ministry there were 3 main places where I was a witness to people:at work, in my cricket team and at church. But then as a minister the main place where I witnessed to people was at church so I joined a local cricket club, went to practice and to the pub after the games. I was then able to engage the whole club in Christian witness with significant conversations (we once had a conversation about God's sovereignty vs our will at the pub after the grand final) which I wouldn't have been allowed to do if I wasn't in the team. If we want to engage the world and be a good example to our churches then let's get out there and join a group/team/organisation and witness for Jesus.
  • Stephen Davis
    June 9, 12 - 4:14pm
    Rodney, this is a great example to both Christians and non Christians alike, this is Christianity mixed with a good dose of common sense which will build relationships as this is what Christianity is all about - relationships. There are too many people, and I am sure you have met a few that are absolutely church obsessed but beyond that, have very little to offer those around them. As an example my son's footy team had a boy in there whose father was a Christian and was always telling me about the importance of church attendance and how he used to go home every night and study Greek/Hebrew and read all these books, I used to carefully observe him at the game and at training, not once did I ever see him approach any of the other parents, he always stood apart from them and I found that rather sad, here he is talking up his church etc. but none of that talk ever turned to action in talking to the other parents about God, you can study all the texts you like but if it does not produce fruit then what is the point?
  • David Ould
    June 19, 12 - 11:27am
    Rodney is spot on.
    Can I add another one - often ministers have more flexibility in work hours, that means we can do school runs. Some of my best conversations have been in the playground.