21 Sep 2017

Church . . . The Amusement Park??

I was reading an article about coming up with strategies that will help and encourage people to come to church on a regular basis. Reading that article immediately prompted an analogy that to some may seem “off the cuff”. However just stick with me, I believe it just might make sense to you.

When we think of an amusement park, most people think of it as a place to have fun. Some parks such as Disney World, represent a land of fairy tales and a place where we can experience something exciting and different than our everyday routine. The trip to the amusement park is usually planned, and not just a spur of the moment idea nor is it something that you do on a weekly basis. A day at the amusement park usually takes place when the weather is great or at least the temperatures are mild and pleasant. There are certain things we expect to happen and want to participate in. There are thrill rides, side shows, and plenty of choices of food to eat. As much as we enjoy it, on a normal basis there isn’t a plan to return next week and sometimes not again until another season or special occasion.

By now you probably have an inkling of where I am going. As much as some may want to vehemently deny it, there is much truth in what I am about to say. For some, church has become a place where we go when all conditions are right. When things line up for our convenience we show up! Very few people visit an amusement park if they’re not feeling well that day. The usual excuse is, it costs too much to waste my money and not be able to enjoy myself, or I just don’t want to spend the energy. How many times do we wake up on a Sunday morning with a headache and determine it is going to take too much effort to get myself together and sit in church for a couple of hours. And if I go I am certainly NOT going to participate and act like I’m glad to be there. Or, how many times do we get off work knowing that there is Bible Study or a mid-week service but we’re just too physically tired or mentally far spent to go to church?

Fortunately, God doesn’t take care of us according to how we respond to Him. We go through such highs and lows that we really do give the appearance of an amusement park roller coaster. When we’re at the top, we’re really flyin’ high! But when we hit rock bottom the whole world knows it, including God. Don’t we serve a God that deserves the best we can offer in good times and bad times? God doesn’t expect 100% from us all the time, but He does expect 100% effort and desire to please Him. Do we please Him with our seasonal, sporadic attendance? Is it fair to Him to arrive late, leave early, and while we’re there only participate in what thrills us? Do we fill up on all the good parts of the service, and bypass and ignore that which we have no appetite for?

As I refer once again to the article that prompted me to write this blog, I do not believe that coming up with strategies to encourage regular church attendance is the answer. Do I have THE ANSWER, maybe not? However, I will say this, every Christian from the pulpit to the door, from the pastor to the youngest parishioner must respond to God in the manner in which He has responded to us. That is through the power of love. If you love someone and know that they love you then you want to be in their presence every chance you get.

From a human standpoint, yes, we all grow weary and humanly react to what is happening in our own personal environment. But with Jesus as our example, when He experienced His hardest days here on earth and everything seemed to be going against Him, He made the ultimate sacrifice for us. Is it really too much to ask to give Him a few hours out of the 168 hours that we have each week? When you look at it from a numeric point of view; 2 hours on Sunday, and 90 minutes on a weekday do not even add up to a “tithe” – 10%!!! That’s a WOW moment right there!

Source: First Lady Denise