Like many pastors, I too would like to see everyone be present at Sovereign Grace Bible Church for the Lord’s Day worship service. Is this too much to ask? This is especially true when the congregation is small as a church-plant, where having one family absent is very noticeable. Also, it doesn’t help the fact that during the certain season a low attendance is somewhat expected.
Please don’t misunderstand me. There are times when parishioners will be gone, including the pastor. And I’m a full supporter of taking a family vacation, a weekend getaway for married couples, Bible conference(s), etc. Hence, this post is not about missing church. It is, however, about how to go about missing church.
Although no pastor would admit that numerical growth is the ultimate goal, a low numerical presence can be discouraging at times, especially, when people fail to communicate if they are planning to be absent due to vacation, etc. Hence, to alleviate some of the discouragements that pastors face, I’d like to recommend the following:
- Please communicate to your pastor if/when you are planning to be gone and why. God placed him in your life to watch your soul. Hence, be respectful, responsible, and accountable.
- If/when you are planning to be gone, make sure to find a legitimate substitute for your ministry responsibility with the approval from your pastor or elder(s). Be responsible regarding your ministry duty(s).
- Make sure to listen to the recorded sermon(s) that you’ve missed. If possible, don’t read the sermon notes. Sermons are to be heard, not read. And when you do, give the same respect and attentiveness as you would when you are at church. In other words, don’t listen to the message with an attitude like it’s a chore or when you’re doing multiple-tasks. Remember, it is God’s Word that you’re listening to, not some…
- If you are married and have kids, have the whole family listen at the same time. Think of it as you leading a family worship. After all, if you are husband and/or father, you are the spiritual leader of your home.
- Find out what you’ve missed in your Sunday School. Don’t expect your instructor to inform you. You have to be the proactive one, not the class instructor.
- If you have children, why not have them send a family card to the pastor, stating something like “We missed you and the church today, and we’ll see you this coming Lord’s Day.” This way the children would learn from their parents some manners of common courtesy when they miss church on the Lord’s Day. If not, they would grow up just like their parents and act the same ways – e.g., being indifferent, irresponsible, and unaccountable.
Before you cry out for foul or accuse me of legalism, please think of it as wisdom, namely training God’s people for godly disciplines toward maturity. What pastor would not like to see the church do things better? Hence, some of the points may not be an issue of right or wrong, but doing good things even better, for God’s glory. The difference between legalism and wisdom is wide as the ocean. But again, in this individualistic and anti-authority culture, even those in the church may have an issue with this counsel.
[Note to fellow pastors: if you have other practical counsel or wisdom to add, I would love to hear it and add it to the list.]