Once upon a time, there was a mother with 7 sons. She loved her boys very much and they loved her. She and her husband were committed to the family meal and their evenings were often filled with laughter. And if you have boys then you know that those evenings were filled with a little arguing and tears as well! But all in all, this close-knit family took their time together as a family seriously.
As the years went on the boys did what they do best: kept growing. The family agreed that no matter what they would still meet the third Saturday of every month to eat a meal together. The boys got married and had families of their own and so you can imagine how crowded the house became during these meals! But this didn’t matter to the mother. It was a labor of love to work all day to fix a meal and to share her home with so many.
One Saturday, one of the boys – the 3rd youngest to be exact – texted his mother 10 minutes before time to eat that he wasn’t coming. He had a last-minute work-related issue come up that he couldn’t get out of. The mother was understanding of course, but boy was he missed! Yes, she loved all her 7 sons equally, but this one son missing put a bit of a damper on her evening. And while she smiled and truly enjoyed her time with her family, part of her was missing. It just wasn’t the same without him there. When he missed, he was missed. And not just by the mother either. There was something a bit incomplete about the whole evening without that brother and his family there.
I want to be a bit vulnerable in today’s post as I tell you what it’s like when a church member misses our regular main gatherings. I don’t mean to say I love my church members in the same way a mother loves her sons, for what human could match a love between a mother and her child!? But, I do mean to say this: Pastors love their church members. And I’m talking about good pastors here. Pastors who care about the gospel, the local church, and Christ’s glory.
Poor pastors care about numbers because they care about their ego. But faithful pastors care about their flock. They love those God has entrusted to their care.
Whether there is one member that comes on Sunday or five hundred and one, the pastor is going to spend the same amount of time in his study. He is going to pray for those in his care. He is going to wrestle with the text in order to present God’s truth rightly in a labor of love.
And so, I can assure you, when you miss church, you are missed. It’s not that the pastor doesn’t love the other members. Of course he does! But when you’re missing, something is just not as complete as it is when you are there. When you’re absent it’s like part of the body is not functioning properly. When you can’t be there, the family is a bit out of sorts. When you miss, you’re missed.
Attending Church Regularly
There are no doubt legitimate reasons for missing church. Now, often many of the reasons touted as legitimate aren’t so legitimate – we just need to spend some time at home today, we needed to sleep in, our child has a sporting event, etc.
The first application I want to make is to those who do have to miss from time to time. Just remember, when you miss, you’re missed. Perhaps your local church isn’t communicating that to you as they should, but just know it is the truth! Don’t let the Evil One deceive you into thinking no one cares, because they do! There is something a bit off when you can’t make it. As the pastor looks at the place you normally sit, he feels a tinge of sadness, even though he understands why you can’t be there.
To the Chronic Missers
The second application I want to make is to those who are considered “regular” attenders by our 21st cultural standards which means you make it about 2x a month or less. When you miss, you’re missed. And what’s different about you is that the pastor isn’t quite sure why you don’t attend more regularly. Is it him? It is his preaching? Has he offended you in some way?
As he looks to the place you sit and sees you missing, he feels a tinge of sadness, and a perhaps even a bit of doubt creep in as to whether or not you love the local church as it loves you. And another question that might enter his mind and the minds of other faithful members is – are you truly born again? Because those born again love the people of God (after all, Christ is after a people – Titus 2:14). And so, what might your paltry commitment say about your eternal state?
Two Final Applications
Do all within your power to not miss the main gathering of your local church. Yes, things come up. But do what you can to schedule your week around Sunday, instead of Sunday around your week. Don’t miss! Because when you do, you are really missed!
And finally, when you do have to miss, stay in contact with the Body. You’re right, they should check in on you too, but don’t make it just about that. Let them know why you have to miss and let them know you will be praying for the service. And know that when you miss, even for legitimate reasons, you are really missed!
Let’s do all we can to make the local church like a family. Because it is a family. It’s God’s family that He purchased with His own blood (Acts 20:28).