A Perfect Day for the Church—Life Application for October 30, 2016

October 23, 2016 No Comments »
A Perfect Day for the Church—Life Application for October 30, 2016

By David Faust

faustIn their book, Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore, authors Thom and Joani Schultz point out: “Church attendance is shrinking. While 40 percent of Americans say they attend church every week, the actual number is more like 20 percent.” The number of teenagers attending every week has dropped to 15 percent.

Does all this bother you? I know, we don’t actually “go to church”—we “are the church” wherever we go. But that’s all the more reason to “consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another” (Hebrews 10:24, 25).

Christians need the Sunday assembly for the same reason a car needs to stop for gas. Church attendance doesn’t earn us salvation, but shouldn’t it be a priority for the saved? Yes, we serve God all week long, but the rest of our priorities seem to line up better when we fuel up our souls on the first day of the week. If we don’t gather weekly, we serve weakly.

The excuses for staying away sound flimsy. “The weather is bad.” (We venture out on weekdays for work or school, but church gets nixed when it’s too hot, cold, rainy, or partly cloudy.) “The weather is good.” (Perfect days beckon us to the lake or the backyard grill.) “It’s a holiday weekend.” (Hmmm—but doesn’t the word mean “holy day”?) “Our kids have a ballgame.” It appears the perfect day for church is a non-holiday when the weather is neither pleasant nor unpleasant and all sports activities have been cancelled.

Dark Days

Slumping worship attendance is a symptom of deeper problems. Is it really surprising that 4 out of 5 Americans don’t attend church? Our neighbors are trying to survive financially, emotionally, and relationally. The gospel of faith, hope, and love will always be relevant, but in our current cultural context the message has gotten so muffled that many consider biblical values archaic and think the church is out of touch with their concerns.

Where do Christ followers fit in such a world? Right in the middle of it. God planted the first-century church in a society filled with idolatry, immorality, violence, hatred, indifference, and hypocrisy. Conditions like those create an ideal environment for Christians to be the salt of the earth—a tangy seasoning that preserves what is good amid increasing rottenness. The church is a hospital, not a museum—a repair shop for the broken, not an art gallery where we admire each other’s beauty.

Jesus calls us to engage the culture, not withdraw from it. Light shines best on dark days. Like autumn leaves that make the earth more fertile in the spring, cultural decay can be the very soil where the gospel takes root and grows.

This isn’t a time for the church to give up; it’s a time for the church to grow up. It’s a time to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles” and “run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1, 2). This is the perfect time not just to go to church, but to be the church at its best.

David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Based on International Sunday School Lesson, © 2013, by the Lesson Committee. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.

As you apply today’s Scripture study to everyday life, read Engage Your Faith by David Faust and the correlating Evaluation Questions.

Daily Readings

Oct. 24

M.

Exodus 3:7-10

I Know Their Suffering

Oct. 25

T.

Psalm 22:1-5

Cry for Help Answered

Oct. 26

W.

Isaiah 53:1-6

By His Bruises We Are Healed

Oct. 27

T.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Run the Race to Win

Oct. 28

F.

Hebrews 10:35-39

Endure Discipline, Share in God’s Holiness

Oct. 29

S.

James 1:12-16

You Are Blessed for Enduring Suffering

Oct. 30

S.

Hebrews 12:1-13

Discipline Yields Peaceful Fruit

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