GO TO CHURCH
I could just leave it at that, right? Go to church.
But I would like to share with you why this is the #1 way to appreciate your pastor, straight from a pastor’s mouth. Now, can I say that this is what every pastor would say? No, of course not. This will be from the perspective of a small-town pastor, who has a heart to serve God and His people.
In a small town of 150 people (literally a small town), 20-25 people going to church is 16% of the population. Pretty good, right? The National Congregations Study estimated that the smaller churches draw only 11 percent of those who attend worship because the majority of people in America will choose to attend congregations of 350 or more people. But if you live in a rural community, the little local church may be your only option. (And we welcome you, regardless of our size. We desire to give you an enriching taste of the Lord, even if we don’t have a large volume of people or have lots of programs.)
When you only have 20-25 people attending regularly, it is very noticeable who’s there and who isn’t. I suspect keeping track of people’s attendance gets more difficult as congregations grow, but I bet each pastor of what would be considered a smaller church (5-350 people) has a heart for who is missing each week.
People may toss around, “Hey, you only work one hour a week!” as they slap their pastor’s back and chuckle, but the reality is that your pastor works diligently at his job: praying, seeking, and loving, every day of the week.
A pastor from a small town will most likely need to supplement his income with outside work, but that doesn’t mean that he isn’t thinking about the ministry and his church people on a continual basis. When Sunday rolls around, he has been thinking about the people in his church all week and is eager to see them. He has a message, and a desire to connect.
Don’t ever assume that your pastor’s heart doesn’t sink a little with lower attendance. Or that he doesn’t drive home, musing to his wife, “Where was she today, I wonder? I wonder what he was up to this morning?”
It’s not about accolades, although now and again it is nice to hear, “Good job. That really spoke to me. I appreciate your faithfulness.” Your presence says to your pastor that what he does and says is valuable to you. But what makes his heart really swell is that your presence says, “God is important in my life. And I’m going to take time out of my busy schedule to spend it with His people, worshiping Him.”
Here are 4 reasons why going to church is the number #1 way to appreciate your pastor:
- Without you (and you and you and you), there is no church and therefore no need for a Pastor. All men and women, including Pastors and their wives, need to be needed. And without a church, there is no need for a Pastor.
- Going to church, (and being happy about it!), says to your Pastor and the rest of the people, that you love them and love being with them. And if you don’t love your church? Well, that’s a whole other discussion.
- Your Pastor knows he can’t do it all, and when the new family walks in the door with 3 children in tow, he wants them to be surrounded by loving people. If the majority of people are gone that Sunday (because everyone assumed everyone else was there), the new family is taking stock of the people (or lack of people) and the Pastor knows he is only a small part of the equation of their decision to come back. When you are there because you appreciate your Pastor, you are also there for everyone else, both old and new.
- And most importantly, it says to anyone paying attention, that church and the things of God are important to you, even in your busy schedule.
What is the point of a church building if you don’t go to church? If you (and you and you and you) don’t go to church, then who is left? Realize that small churches, and the church as a whole, can’t maintain open doors if the assumption is that other people are going (because they are probably thinking the same thing), and please don’t assume that you aren’t an absolutely vital part of your church.
Here are 5 things you should repeat to yourself as your eyes are slowly opening on a Sunday morning, and you’re debating whether or not to go to church:
- “I am important to my church.” You are, you really, really are. You have a unique voice that no one else has ever had or has ever heard. Nowhere in history has there been another you, and never again will there be one. This is why the church needs you. When that new family walks in the door, they need you to greet them, talk to them and help them feel welcome and at ease.
- “God is speaking to me.” He is. Shhh. Listen. Sharing what God is speaking to you and giving your testimony of the previous week, can be the turning point for someone listening. Have you ever heard a story that hit you exactly where you needed to be hit? That spoke to you with such volume your soul almost couldn’t bear it? That caused hope to slowly peak over the shadows in your heart? You have that testimony! You can be the voice and hands of God, speaking to that one individual who needs the words you have to say.
- “I have a role in my church.” Yup. You don’t have the title Pastor or Elder or Sunday School Attendant but you do have a role. Your Pastor and his wife can’t do it all. So, what is your role? Do you always leave church thinking, “Why don’t they do that, or have this or that ministry?” The vision’s the call, right? Maybe God is calling you to expand your ministry and reach. You don’t feel like you have a ministry? Oh, honey! You do! Your whole life is a ministry!
- “Is this______(My plans for the day) more important than what God is doing at church?” In my humble opinion, you have to be a spiritual giant to be strong enough to not have a regular support system in place where you are connecting at least once a week with the Body of Christ. And I’ve never seen any examples where a spiritual giant stayed one while disconnected from the church. When we stand before God, we will realize just how important eternity was in our day-to-day lives. If we, as parents, don’t make church a priority, and choose instead to take our kids camping, shopping, to rodeos, concerts, etc on Sunday mornings, we shouldn’t be alarmed when, as adults, they don’t make church a priority. I’m not advocating to make this a religious law, I’m just asking all of us to begin as we mean to go. Each family unit has to decide what they stand for and then stand firm. But we also can’t be alarmed that our country is making a slow fade into religious oblivion if we all are not making God a priority.
- “God’s Word says I should go.” That one is hard to get around, isn’t it? God said it, so go. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as ye see the Day approaching.” (KJV) or the ESV puts it this way: “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” There are whole chunks of the Bible devoted to the telling of what happens when God’s people do not obey Him. I’ll end with this one because I really can’t out say what God Himself has clearly spoken to us.
If every Bible-believing Christian said this every Sunday morning, and hearkened the doors of their church every single Sunday, regardless of if they wanted to or not, there would be a spiritual revival in this country!
There would be the hands and feet necessary to go out and do the ministry of the saints, there would be the encouragement given to keep on going when times are tough, and the soul-satisfying hunger quenched after giving praise to our Creator. We would see Satan thwarted and his plans put asunder. He tries to win the battles in our lives but we know he does not win the war. Together, as a united church body, we can take back the battles he is winning and remind Satan what the crushing heel feels like.
Do you value and appreciate your pastor? Then go to church. Be present. Come and worship alongside the man who has been called to lead you into a deeper relationship with God. And every once in a while, tell him how much he means to you.
Is the wild blue yonder enough? Find out in Church and cowboys.
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