How To Talk About: Church Attendance
As our church continues to grow, we will increasingly rely on House Church leadership to hold up the biblical standards that we consider foundational beliefs. In the past, the minister or a handful of leaders could be relied upon to shepherd the entire flock, look out for people, and deliver challenges or corrections when needed. Now, we need all of our leaders to be able to encourage and challenge those in their fold who lack conviction.
Perhaps the most basic foundational belief of all is our commitment to attending the meetings of the body. While simply “being there” may seem like a no brainer for most, some disciples habitually struggle with consistent attendance. When some members in our group are not on the same page in this area our groups can be very negatively affected and leadership of the group can feel like a great burden. We should not be surprised that people struggle in this area. The writer of Hebrews warned us that “some are in the habit” of giving up meeting together. (Hebrews 11:23-25)
Fortunately, we do not have to see our friends struggle with this forever. Like all sin, we can talk to our brother or sister about their lack of commitment and help them grow. (Matthew 18:15-17) The solution is simple but not easy. We can be very fearful about confronting people. This fear is only increased if we don’t feel like we have the perspective and scriptures necessary to help. The goal of this brief overview is to give you more than enough tools to help your whole group master this foundational conviction.
Get To The Heart Of The Issue
Although church and meeting attendance may seem like a one size fits all issue, there are actually many reasons why people habitually miss fellowship. Before you can effectively disciple someone you need to get to the heart of the issue. Why are they habitually missing? You can do this by lovingly asking questions. This should not feel like an interrogation if your intent is truly to help because you are concerned. Pray for the right heart before you meet up.
Here are some questions to ask (with reasons for asking each question below):
- Do you know when we meet? Do you have a calendar or access to the church calendar/email?
- It may be an administrative issue not a heart issue
- Do you realize that you are not very consistent in coming to the meetings of the body?
- Some people don’t even realize they are inconsistent
- Why aren’t you coming to __________?
- The person may just be misinformed about one meeting or not know what’s expected
- Did you know that it is important to come to all the meetings of the body?
- They may not have the right biblical foundation on this. The American Christian landscape makes this conviction more difficult.
- Is there something going on that is keeping you from coming?
- Jobs, hobbies, sports, family issues, illness, and many other things may be the actual issue
- Is there something or someone at church that is causing negative emotions?
- The person may have been hurt or offended by someone and does not know how to deal with it. This is especially possible for new Christians
- Do you realize how important you are to the church?
- Most people know that they need church but they do not know that the church also needs them.
- Have you noticed a difference in your life when you come consistently as opposed to when you miss a lot?
- The person may not have made the real life connection between church attendance and God’s blessing
- Have you thought about how your inconsistent attendance affects others?
- In our individualistic society it is easy to forget that our absence can affect others in the church and keep us from being effective on the mission field.
Important Note: In any discussion about attendance it is important to mention that everyone has to miss sometimes and that is okay. It’s the habit of missing that is sinful. Make sure you let the person know clearly what is expected when they have to miss (i.e. who to contact and when, so you can be in the know about your group).
Let The Scriptures Speak
Once you’ve determined the heart of the issue by lovingly asking questions, you can let the scriptures do the talking. So often, you don’t have to worry about having the right words to say as long as you have the right passages to share. Here are a collection of passages with summaries that you can use as a reference to put together a solid scripture based conversation. Remember, it is a conversation. Ask a lot of questions as you share your passages like, “What do you think?”, “Does that make sense?” and so on.
- Hebrews 10:25 – The bottom line conviction. We cannot get into the habit of missing meetings.
- Colossians 1:18 One of the reasons Jesus died was to become the head of the church.
- Matthew 18:20 – It’s not just Sundays and Wednesdays. The church meets at many times and in many forms and each meeting is equally important.
- Colossians 3:16 – What we get by meeting with the body.
- Acts 2:42 – The early Christians were devoted to the fellowship, communion, eating together, listening to teaching and corporate prayer. We also must be devoted.
- Romans 10:17 – Your faith will suffer if you miss.
- Matthew 16:18 – Church is a safe place where we are shielded from Satan’s power.
- Acts 9:31-32, Revelation 2-3, 1 Corinthians 12:27 – God sees his churches like people. He loves them and cares for them and is concerned for their well being. Each member adds to or takes away from the health of the church.
- 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 – The body needs every part to be fully engaged.
- John 17, Psalm 133 – God loves and blesses unity. God hates disunity.
- Matthew 6:33 – The kingdom must be our priority. Blessings promised.
- John 1:12-13 – The church is God’s new family in Christ; the answer to Abraham’s ancient promise.
- Ephesians 4:12 – Need to be built up at church so you can change the world through service.
- 2 Timothy 4:2 – Hearing preaching is fundamental to the Christian life.
- Matthew 28:18-20 – Christ’s promise to be with us always is fulfilled by the Holy Spirit and the church. Our mission to reach all nations can only be completed through the church.
- Ephesians 2:19-22 – God is building his church and needs us to be the bricks and mortar.
- 1 Peter 2:9-10 Our new identity in Christ is wrapped up in the church.
High Love, High Expectations
As we use the word to “teach, correct, rebuke and train in righteousness” let’s always convey our great love for every individual we counsel and our high expectations as disciples who carry the cross daily. End the conversation by asking the person you are counseling to tell you how they will change and what you and the church can expect. Each person should pray.
One conversation bathed in prayer, scriptures, and love will almost always bring encouragement, unity and repentance. If there is no change, however, then make arrangements to talk again but bring another brother or sister along to help just like Jesus told us to do in Matthew 18:15-17.