Over the past year I have witnessed a trend in the church. Initially I thought it to be a trend in our little assembly, but recently it has become apparent this is occurring in many churches. I shared my thoughts with several pastors over the past couple months and have found out this trend is occurring and increasing in the assemblies they pastor also. The trend I am writing about is even more distressing because it is occurring at a time that “unity” is being sought within the local church community. Unity that will truly allow the Spirit of God to flow through all of us to minister and share the Gospel with the lost. Are you wondering about the trend I am referring to? The trend I am witnessing is the individual priorities and activities many individuals now choose are taking precedence over their private time with the Lord and time with His Church Body.
The lives of most of us are significantly busier that the lives of our parents and grandparents. They communicated by snail mail, a telephone that was stationary in a home, and face to face. We have added mobile/cell phones, texting, social media and emails. They had magazines and newspapers, we have the internet. My parents supported the sports I chose to play, but it was my responsibility to be at the practices, and only expected them to attend a game or two. (It was more fun not having them there as their presence gave me a feeling I must perform and not just have fun with my friends) Parents now days are expected to be at all games and the terms “hockey parents” or “soccer parents” have developed as their attendance and involvement in their child’s sport can consume several nights a week and whole weekends. Mid-week bible study for young people was a priority to attend and now there is no doubt that a sport practice caries a higher priority for many. The slower pace of life seemed to allow my parents and grandparents the time to visit neighbors, friends and family regularly, one or both home when we were home, and rarely would they miss a church function or special occasion. With the faster pace of life we live in, the lives our parents and grandparents lived seems a distant memory and no longer possible for us in the 21st century.
Our busy lives are leading to more and more conflicts between our time with the Lord in our personal relationship, our time assembled with our brothers and sisters, and time spent with one another outside of church. Granted, the distractions we all face in this 21st century are greater than that of previous generations, but this should not change the priorities of God First, Family Second, Church family Third and Work Fourth, and other activities fall in after that. Or have priorities changed? If so, who changed them?
Biblically some scriptures that stand out are:
- Heb 10:24-25 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, (25) not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
- Rom 14:16-19 Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; (17) for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (18) For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men. (19) Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.
- 1Co 10:23-24 All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. (24) Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being.
- Rev 2:2-4 “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; (3) and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. (4) Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.
As a pastor it troubles my soul when I see opportunities to seek the Lord Jesus face to face in prayer, reading of the Word and time in praise and worship are missed because of conflicting activities are chosen over them. It also troubles me when time spent with our Christian family are seen as optional and “something to do if I it fits within my schedule”, where as it should be something we seek to do because we love one another and feel a responsibility to help and edify my brother of sister whenever an opportunity arises. I understand none of us can take advantage of every chance we have to spend time in prayer, reading the Word, attending church service, special services and time visiting our brothers, sisters and those in need, but it seems that for many it is becoming easier and easier to place those activities behind sports, work, and other personal interests.
I myself am no different than you and need to evaluate how I invest my time and energy. In my heart I feel it is much more difficult to actually follow the priorities that I witnessed my parents and grandparents had dues to the myriad of distractions I face each day plus not to mention the loss of society’s support for a priority on God. As I read the Bible I see the priorities and activities the Lord wants us to live in have NOT changed even though distractions and society have.
It is NOW that we must seek Jesus Christ intensely, sincerely, and intimately placing Him literally as Lord of our lives. We must make the tough choices many times placing others ahead of ourselves and edify one another whenever possible. Evaluate how you feel out what I am sharing. If you feel convicted, seek God in prayer. If you feel I am off base, seek God in prayer for Him to teach me differently.
Consider the power of Unity in the body if we all let nothing stand in the way of our personal relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ and our love for one another, edifying and ministering to each other whenever the opportunity arises! I can only imagine…
~Small Church Pastor