Last night in our FISH group we were discussing some of the current trends in church attendance. Some studies say that attendance among Evangelical churches has seen significant drops over the past couple of years, while other studies suggest the church is growing by leaps and bounds. In our church alone this past year we’ve seen our membership increase by 50+ people, and in our weekly services we see at least 20 or more new people each and every week. We’re very excited about this for sure, but actual church attendance isn’t all that seems to be growing.
Online church attendance has skyrocketed in the past 24 months. We know several people who worship online each week. In fact, one of the ladies in our Suddenly Single and Grief Share groups is an avid attender of a church in Florida, via the Internet. Before Sam and I moved to Georgia we listened every Sunday to podcasts of the church services at the church we planned on attending once we moved here. And while we didn’t feel physically apart of the church, we felt mentally and emotionally connected.
But here’s the thing. As humans, we are designed to crave human contact. “Fellowship” as the Bible often calls it. We need to be around other people. We need to have physical contact with them in the form of a hug, a hand-shake, or even just a pat on the back.
Hebrews 10:25 says, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
This verse implies more than just being encouraged by each other. It implies a person must be in fellowship with other believers in Christ. We can be encouraged by our friends, neighbors, family members, co-workers, even a kind grocery store clerk or bank teller. That’s not what this verse is talking about. Instead it’s talking about our spiritual encouragement. Accountability. Worship. Spiritual growth and renewal. We all have a God shaped hole inside of us that’s crying out to be filled. And fill it we try, and try, and try. Some people try to find it in alcohol, or drugs, or sex, or work, or family, or friends, or food, or hobbies, or sports, or a hundred other things. And no matter how hard we try that void just never seems to have a bottom. I know from personal experience that the hole inside of me wasn’t filled up (and overflowing) until I asked Christ into my life. He took my need for shoveling away.
So what about you? Are you still shoveling?