I wonder if this was your resolution for 2015: Come to church every week! If you belong to St. Andrew’s or St. John’s, do your utmost to come every week. Belonging to a church is a big and significant thing in anyone’s life, and it matters to all of us if you are missing. A Christian believer who comes irregularly does not belong to their church with the kind of commitment that honours God, helps their fellow-Christians, and enables them to grow in their own discipleship. Of course it’s fine to take holidays, and illness and old-age and some other things can keep us away on Sundays (or Tuesday mornings); but if you really belong to God, you will make every effort to be present with God’s people for our main weekly meetings.
Belonging to a church is not like belonging to a club, it’s more like belonging to a nation. As an Englishman living in England, I speak English, breathe English air, and live English life: I can’t help it – that’s who I am. As Christians, we belong with our fellow-Christians who are God’s people, and we should live church life. (After all, the Old Testament people of God were a nation, and the New Testament speaks of Christian believers as being ‘a holy nation’, united not by race but by Christ).
Now some of those who turn up irregularly in our churches are seeking for God, looking into Christian faith, and are being gently drawn by God towards Christ and his church. And that is great – we want them to come whenever it suits them, and if you are one of those, please be our guest, please keep using our services in whatever way works for you. But for those who know they belong to God, who are already committed Christian believers, well, you should come to church every week if you possibly can. Do not forget the command of Scripture: ‘Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching’ (Hebrews 10:25). The Day of God will come, and a new year reminds us of the march of time. We need God and we need each other. And we need you. If you belong to a Fellowship Group (or another kind of church group), the same applies: your attendance matters.
Sorry if I have sounded like a grumpy Schoolmaster, trying to lay down the law. Christianity does not work by law but by grace, and if God’s grace has gripped us, then time in church with God’s word and God’s people celebrating God’s love will bring the greatest joy to our hearts. And may God give us all much joy through 2015.
With my best wishes – James.