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How to Attend Church

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Pastor Paul McCart goes into great detail the importance of attending church beyond just showing up. Through humor and pastoral experience, you'll find this extremely helpful in your walk of faith.

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How to Attend Church

  1. 1. How to Attend Church P A S T O R P A U L M C C A R T "THERE'S MORE TO IT THAN JUST SHOWING UP." P A U L M C C A R T . C O M
  2. 2. It may seem odd to write about how to attend church. All you need to do is just show up, right? Well not exactly. There’s more to attending church than just showing up.
  3. 3. GETTING THERE IS THE FIRST STEP Getting to church, though, is the first step. In fact, for many, it is the biggest step. Recent studies completed or run by organizations like the Pew Research Center have found that only 35% of people attend church weekly while most only attend a few times a year or less. Other studies have found that these numbers could actually be much lower with weekly attendance, for example, falling as low as 20%. Whatever the case may be, what seems clear is that a large number of people aren’t attending church.
  4. 4. The challenge of people choosing not to attend church, though, isn’t new. In fact, this has been an issue since the beginning of the church. Take a look at what it says in the book of Hebrews: “And let us 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— and all the more as you see the Day approaching” – Hebrews 10:24-25
  5. 5. WHY IS THERE A STRUGGLE? Since the beginning of the church, it seems that people have struggled with making the commitment to get together with others for church. This is why God encourages us to stay connected to the church. So then why is there this struggle? Could it be that the struggle to show up at a church service might be related to how we choose attend?
  6. 6. When attending church, we need to be expecting God to speak to our hearts. We are to be at church like children before a loving parent, understanding that whether it is a time of conviction, celebration, or both, we know that God has our best interests in mind and we will be blessed as a result of having shown up. We should show up expecting God to do a good work in us. EXPECT GOD TO SPEAK TO YOUR HEART
  7. 7. WHAT IF I'M NOT SURE GOD EXISTS? We need to earnestly seek God. When we do, we will be blessed, and this truth certainly applies to how we are to attend church. Now, some of you may be wondering “What if I’m not sure He exists?” Well, the good news is that you can be, and I will address this topic in a future series. Don’t worry if you have doubts. This is normal, and what’s awesome is that even in the midst of your doubts, God will meet you there, if you are simply open to it. Attending church is meant to be an experience where God genuinely impacts our lives. One essential aspect for this to happen, though, is that we need to show up, and do so with a sense of anticipation of what He will do.
  8. 8. BE EQUIPPED AND NOT JUST ENTERTAINED Another way we need to approach attending church that's just as critical is this: We need to go to church seeking to be equipped and not just entertained. Now don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with being entertained at church. In fact, I think it’s tragic for a person’s experience at church to be boring. If someone is singing at a worship service and the dogs in the neighborhood begin to howl, that’s just wrong. If the pastor’s speaking causes drowsiness more than the most powerful, over-the counter, sleep aid, it’s tragic. If kids go to church and they wonder why mommy and daddy are punishing them, well, you get the point.
  9. 9. Church should never be boring and that’s because God is amazing! He created the universe with all of its beauty, creativity and diversity. He works in ways that we don’t always expect and it’s always for our benefit. Not only that, but look at what it says in the book of Ephesians. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. – Ephesians 3:20-21
  10. 10. GOD IS NOT BORING It should be exciting to go to church. Church should be so good that kids beg their parents to take them and parents are racing their kids to get to the car so they arrive on time. We should look forward to going to church and not want to miss it. Church should be engaging and, yes, entertaining. Being entertained, though, is not to be an end in itself or even the primary reason we go. At church, we are to seek to be equipped. We are to go to receive what we need in order to do what we are meant to do.
  11. 11. FIND WHAT GOD HAS IN STORE FOR YOU At church, you need to be listening, asking questions, and seeking out whatever is necessary so that you can make an informed and genuine decision to follow Jesus. What’s awesome is that there is more than enough evidence to prove Jesus is the Son of God in whom you need to place your trust. All you need to do is to seek it out and you will be forever thankful that you did! What needs to happen for those of us who have already decided to follow Jesus is to go to church to receive what we need in order to go out into the world and do what God has in store for us. Going back to the book of Ephesians, check this out.
  13. 13. God already has in mind good works that He wants us to carry out. All of us have purposes that we are meant to fulfill. We have important missions assigned to us to bring good into this world and going to church is meant to help us identify them and be ready to do them. How cool is that? I don’t know about you but I think it’s awesome! Going to church involves discovery. It involves the Creator of the universe being at work within us to bring about good for us and through us. Attending church is to be more than just a weekly, one-time, isolated event that amuses us. It is to be a launching pad to becoming more of who we are meant to be, do what we are meant to do, and experience all God intends, throughout the rest of the week. And now, it's time for dessert!
  14. 14. “Hey, wait a minute, is this some sort of trick?” you might be saying to yourself. “Serving others isn’t dessert. That’s like saying your going to get Crème Brule (another dessert favorite of mine) and you’re handed Brussels sprouts. What’s up with that?” Well, I know it can seem this way but serving others is really meant to be a blessing to us as well as others. When you take a look at Jesus life, you can see that he served others all the time. His schedule was full of serving others. Even when he had places to go and people to see and his itinerary had other items planned, Jesus would still take the time to serve someone else. Jesus would often go all day and well into the evening to serve. He would often keep an intense pace, and you could wonder how was he able to do that.
  15. 15. Well, there are many reasons. Jesus always took time away to be with God the Father. He took time to rest, even if it was in the back of a boat during a raging storm. He would hang out with friends to eat and laugh. Jesus maintained a balance to life. But along with this, I believe there was another reason. I believe it was because it made him happy to bless others. This is part of God’s nature. God just loves to help. In fact, Jesus said this about why he came. HOW COULD JESUS SERVE OTHERS SO MUCH?
  16. 16. HE CAME TO SERVE As you can see, Jesus came to help us in the most important of ways. Jesus came to give his life as a ransom for us. He came to do what only he could do, which was to pay the penalty for sin for all of humanity so that all people could have the opportunity to be saved. But there is also another reason listed for why Jesus was born and lived among us. He came to serve. Jesus could have said, “I came to be waited on and have as much fun as possible until the day I give my life for all of you.” But he didn’t. Jesus didn’t come to be served but to serve. Not only that, but Jesus also said this: "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." – John 10:10
  17. 17. HE SETS THE EXAMPLE OF HOW WE ARE TO LIVE Jesus came so we can live to the full. He came so that we could experience lives filled with meaning and joy. Plus, Jesus is also the author and perfecter of our faith (see Hebrews 12:2). He is the one who sets the example for how we are to live. So, when we put this all together, Jesus came so that we can live life to the fullest, and as part of showing us how to do this, he served. To put this another way, serving is part of the pathway towards a full life.
  18. 18. Serving others is meant to help others and bless us in the process. So, we need to seek ways to serve, and there are two primary places to look. The first is at church. Choosing to volunteer at church is a great way to serve others and help to fulfill the vision God has given to your church. What’s great is that if your church has more than one service, you can serve during in one service and attend another. You get both dinner and dessert!.
  19. 19. It may come as a shock to you but there have been many times when I have been asked to help someone and I didn’t feel like doing it. But you’re a pastor? True, but pastors are real people who have to deal with life issues too. A reality of life is that all of us have times when we just don’t feel like serving. Yet, what I can tell you is that each time when I decided to serve someone else when I didn’t feel like it, especially choosing to serve the least among us, it was more than worth it. In fact, those moments have turned out to be some of the more meaningful times I’ve had in life. So we need allow church to help us find ways to serve others and then go do it. We are to look for places to serve because we are to love our neighbors as ourselves and it’s just the right thing to do. But along with this, you just might find that serving others is also like a big plate of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies with a big glass of milk. And it doesn’t matter if you’re lactose intolerant or you’re one of the few people on the planet who doesn’t like a warm chocolate chip cookie. You will still be blessed!
  20. 20. Thank you P A S T O R P A U L M C C A R T P A U L M C C A R T . C O M