Empty Pews

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It was a Sunday evening and we were about to start worship services. I looked around and there were so many rows of empty pews. It’s so very discouraging and sad. I found myself wondering where everyone was and why nobody comes back on Sunday nights. Attendance is an issue that happens everywhere and has been since I can remember. I know people get caught up in the routine of life – working, raising families, and so on – but I have to ask, where are our priorities?

I know we can never seem to find the time to do all we like to do.  Personally, I get it. Sadly, most people try to solve this “time problem” by cutting back or eliminating spiritual things altogether. Our spiritual life is usually the first thing that is compromised. We neglect our prayer life, fellowship gatherings, and most importantly forsaking the assembly. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33) This is one of the most challenging, and yet neglected, commands of Christ, even by many who profess to be His followers. We tend to make primary things secondary and secondary things primary. I have never known a person who chose to attend only one service a week to be a strong, faithful Christian.

How many times have you had to reprioritize your life? It is very likely that you have reprioritized your life on numerous occasions. Our intentions are always good. It is just that our intentions sometimes do not last long. In spiritual matters, we decide to do better and make all services, until we plan something else that keeps us from attending. I have seen this firsthand. You start missing Sunday nights, then you start to miss Wednesday nights, and then finally you miss Sunday morning. As a preacher’s wife, I see the discouragement preachers feel when they stand before the congregation and it’s mostly empty. Your absence affects more than just you. It affects so many, and you probably don’t even realize what an impact it makes, and not in a good way.

There are Christians who will stay home on Sunday because they are too tired or they have aches and pains but will go to work, shopping, or other activities with these same symptoms. How many people would be able to keep their jobs if they missed two days of work every week? Why are we so dedicated to our jobs and other activities, but not dedicated enough to God to make it to all the services? Hebrews 10:25-27 says, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the day approaching. For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation.”

When we forsake the assembly of the church, except for sickness or circumstances beyond our control, we are not only disobeying God, but we are robbing ourselves of all the benefits of worship which can help us to grow spiritually. We need to realize that it is important for us to assemble on Sunday and Wednesday. Some people may ask, do I have to attend Sunday night and Wednesday night services? If we really love God, you would never ask such a question. You just want to.

I truly believe that if you make your relationship with God first in your life, everything else will naturally fall into place in the right order, creating the fulfilling life you hope to enjoy. The church services are designed for spiritual growth. When you listen to the sermons and attend the Bible classes, it helps you to grow and develop into a more mature Christian. It is important for us to grow spiritually. I would ask each of you to examine your priorities.

Can we truthfully say that we are ready, watching, and waiting for the Lord when we willfully miss many of the opportunities to be with His people? Just something to think about.

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