Perhaps you have seen this meme floating around the internet in various places. It is meant to be cute, meant to be thought provoking, meant to point out the irony of the reasons people have for not coming to church and put them in the context of another situation. Needless to say, as a pastor, I have seen this meme MANY times.
The point is that we would never use these reasons to stop attending sporting events, so why would we ever use them as reasons to stop going to church?
Which is why this meme cracks a smile on everyone’s face, but does little more.
You know why I go to sporting events even though the coaches have never come and visited me, even though the behavior of the other spectators is not always the best, even though the same thing happens every game win or lose?
It is because I like sports. I like baseball and basketball, and in small doses I like football too; and I am willing to endure the coaches, the fans and the mundane plays because I like the competition, I like seeing people do what I cannot (or in some cases think I still can), I like the community aspect.
And I am not going to let someone or something ruin sports for me. I am willing to pay a little more to go to professional sporting events; I am willing to sit on hard bleachers in a smelly gym for a couple hours to watch high school basketball; I am willing to eat food that costs way more than it should to support the class trip; I am willing to be ignored and talked to all in the same setting by those who surround me.
Why can we not do this for church, which is far more important than sports?
Why do people allow the hard pews and the fluctuating temperatures of the building affect their coming to receive the body and blood of Jesus? Why does the personality of the pastor or the behavior of fellow parishioners affect coming to receive the forgiveness of sins? Why does the set time for worship always seem to be a burden?
The truth of the matter is, we endure a lot when we go to sporting events; and yet we are willing to endure nothing when it comes to the regular gathering together to hear the Word of the Lord and the receiving of the sacraments.
I am a pastor, and I like sports, and I am not about to let something small or silly prevent my continued enjoyment of sports.
And yet, how many are willing to let the small and the petty affect their coming to the Lord’s house and receiving the gift of eternal life? If you believe in Jesus Christ, shouldn’t you be willing to let some things go in order that you can still hear the Word preached, still receive the body and blood of Christ, still be reminded of your baptism?
After all, we do it for sports all the time.