Tis the season of thinking about making a change. Not sure if you have made all of your New Year’s resolutions yet or not, but I encourage you to make at least one more: resolve to go to church.
Many people these days are content to live their lives full of skepticism and doubt. Some people find it easier to doubt than believe, so they take the path of least resistance by scoffing at any and all doctrines of faith. Others have far more innocent reasons for their absences from communities of faith. Anymore, it is not only possible but often times more alluring to watch a service on TV or download a sermon podcast than to go through the work of getting up, getting cleaned, getting dressed, traveling to a physical church on a Sunday morning, and staying awake through the whole service. Spending twenty minutes listening to a preacher on iTunes while you are still in our pajamas, or having a TV preacher on in the background while you cook brunch is far easier and less time consuming than making it to an actual service.
I, as a preacher, must admit - going to church is work. You heard it here folks, going to church is work. It takes effort to get ready and get to worship week after week, and there is nothing about the challenge of church going that will likely change in 2018. Every Sunday, as we scramble to get our one and two-year-old children ready for church, I am reminded how difficult it is to attend church every week. And we live right next door! There is no question, going to church is work.
But so is doing the dishes, making sure the house is picked up and cleaned, brushing your teeth, working out, making dinner… the list goes on. There are many aspects of our lives that require concerted effort and attention, things that are worth working towards regardless of the challenge they present. Church attendance is no different. The church worships weekly because it is a good, necessary thing to do. We believe that our lives are centered, our souls strengthened, and our faith renewed when we hear the word of God preached over our lives and gather together in fellowship around the Lord’s table. We believe that it is good and holy to confess our sins together, pray for one another, and greet one another in faith. All of these activities make church attendance work, but all of them make our lives better.
Regular church attendance is not about doing something easy or exciting – it is about tending to your soul. Even better, being present in a congregation week after week is about tending to the souls of others, and letting them tend to yours in return. Just like you should take care of your living space by making sure your laundry is clean and your dishes are washed, take care of your body by eating well and working out, your bank account by spending wisely, and your job by working well, you should also tend to your soul by resolving to go to church in 2018. Your soul will be better for it.
-Rev. Seth Nelson
Rev. Seth Nelson, author of The Church Unknown: Reflections of a Millennial Pastor, writes this blog. The blog focuses on the future of the church as well as how God loves and cares for us in the present. He is a pastor in Ronan, Montana.