I was jesting with a friend recently who made a statement I knew was an exaggeration. So, I told her I thought she needed to go forward on Sunday and repent. My friend let me know that she goes by church twice every day.
Drive-by shootings have occurred at last since shortly after cars came into mass production. But I've never heard of drive-by church attendance before. As it turns out, my friend attends (yes, that's present tense; remember that) a church that happens to also be on her way to work.
While I'm pretty sure my friend attends church regularly, it seems that a lot of people view church attendance as something they can do from a distance, occasionally, or even infrequently. Those of us who attend church in the present tense (that is, just about any time the doors are open) use the term "C & E Christians" to describe people who attend only at Christmas and Easter. If you haven't been to church since Easter, the regular attendees have been missing you.
God also has been missing you. One of Jesus' expressed desires was to have fellowship with his disciples before the crucifixion and even then he looked forward to continuing the fellowship every Sunday once his church was started on the Pentecost after the resurrection when the gospel and terms of salvation were first presented with a response (Luke 22:15-18; Colossians 1:13-14; Hebrews 12:22-24, 28; Acts 2:36-47; 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2; Matthew 18:20; 28:20).
The focus of our church service is to be God, remembering the great love shown to us through Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection; and the fact that he's coming back to gather the church and take us to heaven. Still, church attendance also has the important purpose and benefit of encouraging Christians to live in such a way as to be among those Jesus is coming back for (Hebrews 10:19-31; Matthew 24:30-31).
Some think they can attend by proxy by sending their kids (or dropping them off as they drive by — don't get me wrong, churches love having the children, but it would be good if the parents learned what the children are being taught so they could reinforce it at home). Proxy attendance is ineffective. No one will enter heaven on another's coattails and there's no benefit to merely going by church without stopping in (2 Corinthians 5:10; Ezekiel 18:4, 20).
When someone goes by the grocery, they actually stop and go in to get the food rather than expecting it to jump off the shelf and into their car at no cost. Although, there's no daily requirement for church attendance, it is one of the nominal costs of our salvation (nominal compared to Jesus' death as payment for our sin – Romans 6:23, 3-11; 1 Peter 2:21-24; Luke 14:27).
If you've been driving by church or attending by proxy, why don't you stop and come in to worship God appropriately each Sunday to receive the benefits of encouragement and fellowship with other Christians and Jesus himself?
Leonard Lauriault is a member of the Church of Christ in Logan. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org