Pastoring is not easy and I have heard many times that if a man can do anything else but be a pastor he should do it, but if not do it with all he has. The Great Preacher Charles Spurgeon said "Do not enter the ministry,. If any student in this room could be content to be a newspaper editor, or a grocer, or a farmer, or a doctor, or a lawyer, or a senator, or a king, in the name of heaven and earth let him go his way; he is not the man in whom dwells the Spirit of God in its fullness, for a man so filled with God would utterly weary of any pursuit by that for which his inmost soul pants.
The struggles of pastors are often many but one that I have experienced and heard from many of my shepherding brothers lately is the struggle with our people's commitment to one another. We live in an age were little to no commitment is required of anyone. We see this in our economic structure where companies encourage non-commitment with easy purchasing options with little to no commitment. Things such as phone plans and internet service or even cable TV offer no commitment necessary to obtain what you want. What is worse is we see this bleeding over into the family and even the church. We see little to no commitment to the sanctity of marriage and what it represents. But we also see a decline in self-professing Christians to commit to the church.
Oh we commit to things. It is amazing that many families will commit to hours of baseball or soccer practice and all day Saturdays spent at the ball field or tournaments. They will commit hundreds of dollars to such things that eternally have no benefit but when it comes to the eternal things many are willing to commit even in the smallest amount.
As I was reading today through the book of Ephesians I was reminded of this very thing. In Chapter 4 Paul urges the people of the Church at Ephesus to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which they have been called and to do this with humility, gentleness, patience, and bearing with one another in love and eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. He then adds that the leaders of the church are to equip the saints to do the work of ministry for the building up of the body, the church.
What Paul is getting at is that all professing church members have a responsibility to one another to be a part of the church. This means commitment. Now many justify their commitment by attendance or maybe even a little service every now and then however there is still a great lack of commitment and it is detrimental to the health and growth of the church.
I was told by a pastor friend the other day that the average church attendance of a "regular member" is 1.3 times a month. That number is staggering and is heartbreaking to pastors. Here are a few ideas of what it means when you just don't show up.
- First of all it means that you are not concerned about your own spiritual growth. Like it or not the Bible is clear that we are to meet together regularly for fellowship and worship. The purpose of this is that we will be challenged and equipped to fulfill the calling that God has called us to and that is to glorify Him. When we break the habit of meeting together we quickly fall into the ways of the world and our spiritual growth slows to a crawl.
- Secondly is says the we don't care about the spiritual growth of others. Weather you realize it or not if you are a true believer you have a place and a duty in the church. The Bible tells that the Spirit equips us to do the work of ministry and each believer has different spiritual gifts. When we fail to participate we are quenching that Spirit that God has given us to do His work for His glory.
- We don't cherish the Gospel like we should. For the believer the Gospel is as relevant today as it was when God used it to save us. We need the Gospel message to be preached to us because we are easily drawn away form what has saved us. We need a constant reminder of the awesome grace God has shown us through the Gospel message. It is to be celebrated, sung about, prayed about and studied about with our fellow believers. This too is for the glory of God.
So I urge you. make a commitment. Commit to show up. Commit to attend that Bible study. Commit to that women's fellowship. Commit to that time of corporate worship. Commit that time to serve missionaly. I have never heard anyone say they have served Christ and His Church too much.
I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go to the house of the LORD!"