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
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.
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.
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
– Hebrews 10:24-25
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
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
WHAT IF I'M
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.
AND NOT JUST
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
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.
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
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
GOD IS NOT
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.
FIND WHAT GOD
HAS IN STORE FOR
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.
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!
“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.
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?
HE CAME TO
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
HE SETS THE
HOW WE ARE TO
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.
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!.
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!