Consider a schedule change
Midsummer affords, along with our hottest weather, the chance to reflect on our schedules for the upcoming year.
Whether we have children (or grandchildren) in school, our schedules often track with academic calendars: many activities run from September-May.
Church attendance may or may not be vying for a spot in our schedule.
In Northern Nevada, nearly 6 of 10 people do not attend church at all, or used to but no longer do so. That represents one of the lowest church attendance rates in the nation. (Barna Group, “Church Attendance Trends Across the Country,” May 26, 2017)
Why would anyone attend church?
The apostle Peter distilled the best reason: “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18) A healthy church— and there are many in our area — will proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ and encourage anyone who attends to believe in Jesus, then grow in a relationship with him.
As we grow, he motivates us to show his love to others.
In fact, Jesus said that love of others should be the mark of a Christian: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35)
Unfortunately, love may not be the mark of a Christian to those 6 of 10 in our area who do not attend any church. Terms like “hypocrite” and “judgmental” may more accurately characterize their perception of Christians and churches… and that reputation is often deserved.
Therefore, for those who are followers of Jesus, let’s consider a schedule change: make time to develop friendships with those who would never darken the doors of a church.
If you love Jesus, you can’t hide his life within you, and you’ll share God’s love in a most meaningful way — through a sincere friendship.
Don’t make this an entrapment scheme: there can be no strings attached to your relationship with others.
Consider this: Jesus himself was called “a friend of sinners,” yet he never sinned. (Matthew 11:19; Luke 7:34; 2 Corinthian 5:21) How was that possible? As you read through the gospels, you see Jesus developing relationships with others, truly caring for them, but never engaging in sin or excusing it.
Instead he consistently offered forgiveness and a brand-new life through faith in him.
It’s easy to repeat our personal schedules out of habit.
Let’s grow in our walk with Jesus, attend church to bless others, and make time to develop friendships with people unfamiliar with, estranged from, or even hostile to Christianity.
That would be a great schedule change for all of us!
Don Baumann is Outreach Pastor at Hilltop Community Church.