“She’s (or he’s) at church every time the doors are open.”
This is our go-to description for a Christian who is totally committed to the Lord. I’ve heard it my whole life. I’ve said it more times than I can count. You may have too. But is it possible that some Christians who aren’t at church every time the doors are open are just as spiritual, just faithful to the Lord as those who are?
When I was a kid, our family participated in everything the church did. Church services, of course, but also VBS, revivals (every night!), church picnics, holiday parties, father/son banquets, potlucks, you name it. Consequently, when I became a preacher at the age of 19, I expected my people to do the same, and if they didn’t, I felt disappointed in them.
Thankfully, God delivered me from that youthful, ignorant, self-righteous mindset. It took a while because I tend to be a slow learner, but I eventually came to understand that it’s okay if you aren’t at church every time the doors are open.
Here’s how my thinking evolved.
First, I began noticing that the members of our church who attended every service and activity weren’t necessarily our best members. In a few cases, they were our worst members. That fact alone blew a gaping hole in my belief that the best Christians would always be those every-time-the-doors-are-open people.
Second, it eventually dawned on me that there is no biblical mandate for Wednesday evening services, Vacation Bible Schools, church camps, prayer breakfasts, etc. Our first century brothers and sisters met on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7) and we’re told not to forsake meeting together (Hebrews 10:25). But turning those simple statements into a club for beating Christians over the head when they don’t attend every single service or activity started to seem more and more unfair.
Finally, the across-the-board deterioration of the family that I was observing made me wonder if the church was contributing to the problem. We asked people to make room in their already jam-packed schedules for an endless parade of services and activities and then made them feel guilty if they chose not to. I started noticing that some of our people were dragging themselves to church on Wednesdays completely exhausted, often skipping dinner because they were coming straight from work. Were they doing it because they wanted to or because they would feel guilty if they didn’t?
Ultimately, I came to the following conclusions:
We are to worship God (Psalm 29:2) in spirit and truth (John 4:24) on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7, 1 Corinthians 16:2). Beyond that, a host of church activities will be made available, but each individual Christian must decide which of those things are doable and helpful. It is not my place or anyone else’s to pass judgment. Paul said, “So stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.” (Romans 14:13)
I love and respect the members of Poinciana Christian Church who are here every time the doors are open. I also love and respect those who aren’t.
And I look down my nose at no one.