March / June 1995 Church Attendance
From the March / June 1995 issue of The Concordia Lutheran
I. Going to Church is–
A. an old custom. Luke 2:41. The early Christians had their Church Services. Heb. 10:25; Acts 2:42.
B. a divine institution.
1. God has instituted the Office of the Ministry. Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5; Acts 20:17,28. Since God has commanded that His Word be preached, 2 Tim. 4:1,2, He therefore expects people to hear it preached. Luke 10:16. One reads and the other listens. Rev. 1:3.
2. God has instituted the Sacraments. The congregation is to come together for the administration of these Sacraments. Acts. 20:7.
3. It is God’s will and ordinance that the Christians who dwell in one locality form a Christian congregation. I Cor. 1:2, Gal. 1:2; Thess. 1:1.
C. To attend or not to attend Church is therefore not left to the whim of the Christian. But the place, time, and order of service, are matters of Christian liberty.
II. Who should go to Church? Everyone. Luke 2:41,42, the whole family.
A. Fathers: List and refute some objections which many men give for not attending Church.
B. Mothers: how many women feel that they must remain home to tend the children and see to it that dinner is served on time? Luke 10:38-42.
C. Children: Whoever allows his children to remain at home so that they do not become accustomed to attending Church, can hardly expect them to be diligent in their Church attendance in later life. Prov. 22:5; Eph. 6:4.
III. Where should a Christian attend Church? Mary and Joseph went to the Temple of the Lord. A Temple of God is that place where the Word of God is taught in all of its truth and purity and the Sacraments administered according to Christ’s institution. False churches are to be avoided. Rom. 16:17; I Tim. 6:3 ff.
IV. How should we go to Church?
A. Regularly. We should not miss the Divine Service because of-
1. the weather. “It’s too hot, too cold, too wet, etc.”
2. the distance. In 1703 the Huguenots in Rochelle traveled 20 miles during the night so that they might attend the Divine Service on Sunday morning.
3. company. Bring the company along if they will come. If not, let them wait until you return.
4. the ridicule of so-called friends. Such are not real friends if they are not interested in the welfare of your soul.
5. inability to contribute generously. 2 Cor. 8:12; 9:7.
6. Can you mention others?
B. Willingly. Attending the Divine Service should not be a drudgery. It should be a joyous privilege. Ps. 26:8; 122:1; 84:2,10; 27:4; Acts 2:46
V. Why should we go to Church?
A. God demands it. (3rd Commandment). We should not despise preaching and His Word.
B. By going to Church we give testimony of our faith.
C. By attending Church we also foster true Christian fellowship. Is it not the same with coals? Together they glow, but spread out individually they quickly die out.
D. We should set a good example. Matt. 5:16.
E. We need to go to Church. Our faith is not self-sustaining. It needs to be nourished and strengthened by the preaching of the Word of God.
F. The blessings and benefits in attending the Divine Service are great.
1. Through the preaching of the Word of God the sinner is converted, Rom. 10:17; faith is kindled and preserved; the carnally secure are aroused, and the terrified sinners are comforted.
2. What treasures are dispensed to us in the Church Service! Matt. 18:20; Gen. 28:17.
VI. False motives in attending Church. Many go to Church–
A. merely to be seen of people and to show off their finety. (Think especially of Easter!) Matt. 6:5.
B. for business reasons.
C. Can you add some more?
VII. A blessed Church attendance.
A. Arrange our affairs in such a manner on Saturday so that we are ready and eager to hear God’s Word on Sunday morning.
B. Come a little early so that we have time to offer a prayer before the Divine Service begins. Eccl. 5:1; Hymn 5, v.1.
C. Boisterousness and loud talking are most disturbing in the Church and should be avoided.
D. Sing along with all of the hymns and join in the prayers.
E. Receive the preaching as the Word of God and apply it to ourselves. I Thess. 2:13; Luke 10:16.
F. If there are any visitors present, make it a point to greet them after the Service. Out-of-town visitors could be invited for dinner, and, if necessary, be given overnight lodging. I Pet. 4:9; Rom. 12:13.
G. Put into practice what we have learned from the Word of God. Luke 8:14-15.
VIII. Excuses which people often give for not going to Church.
A. “I can listen to a sermon over the radio.” Heb. 10:25.
1. Whoever does not come to the Divine Service usually does not bother to read or listen to a sermon at home.
2. Such an attitude shows contempt for the Office of the Ministry. Luke 10:16.
B. “I know everything that the Pastor preaches.”
1. Is that really true?
2. “I am also a doctor and preacher . . . And I must still read and study daily, and yet I cannot master it as I wish, but must remain a child and a pupil of the Catechism, and am glad so to remain.” (Luther)
C. “Church-going does not save one.” It is true that the outward attendance in Church does not save one. (The Pharisee, Luke 18). Sitting at a table does not fill a person unless he eats. But one thing is certain, whoever despises the preaching of God’s Word will not be saved! John 8:47.
D. “I don’t trust the Pastor. I was cheated once and I don’t intend to be cheated again.” Would you blame all mechanics for the bad job which one mechanic may have done on your car?
E. “I still have plenty of time to go to Church and be good; I want to enjoy life first.” Luke 12:16-21; Gal. 6:7,8.
F. “My faith is strong enough so that I do not have to attend Church every Sunday.” I Cor. 10:12.
IX. What are some of the reasons for irregular Church attendance?
A. Self-complacency and unbelief. Luke 14:16-20.
B. Through irregular Church attendance a person not only robs himself of many blessings, but his spiritual life grows weaker and weaker and he becomes an easy prey for the devil who is really behind irregular attendance at the Divine Service.
X. What can be done to improve Church attendance?
A. False inducements.
1. Offering rewards (Trading stamps, CL., Nov. 1957, p.167 ff.)
2. The formation of clubs and organizations with the express purpose in mind of bringing people to Church through social activities.
B. The Scriptural method.
1. The preaching of the pure Word of God is the only means by which we should get the people to attend Church. “There is nothing that attaches the people more to the Church than a good sermon.” (Luther) Rom. 10:17.
2. Brotherly admonitions from the pastor, elders, and members. Col. 3:16; Heb. 10:25.
3. Set a good example by diligently attending Church ourselves.