Church has always been the center of my world. My parents raised us to make going to God's house our first and main priority. If the doors were open, we were there, whether it was a church work day, choir practice, or a prayer meeting. Sunday morning and Sunday night, we were there. Wednesday night, we were there. About every other month, either our or one of the other local churches ran a week-long revival, and we were there. And the first Friday night of every month was youth rally. This was a highlight for us teenagers, a time to get together and sing and worship together, and there was always food, fellowship, and games after. We had an area youth choir where the youth from several churches got together and learned songs to sing at the youth rallies. Oh, how the blessings of God would fall on us while singing in that choir! Us kids knew how to worship, we didn't sit on the back pew and look for excuses to go out. We were eager for the preacher to "break the bread" and give us what we needed to hear from the Word. We were hungry and got all we could get from the Lord during those services.
While driving around Shreveport this weekend, I noticed on the church signs, there was no time listed for Sunday night services. Are churches canceling their Sunday night services? Am I way behind on this development? Why? Can we have "too much" church? Is it necessary to cut back on the time we give exclusively to God? Or have our priorities changed so much that we have better things to do on Sunday night?
Sure, Sunday is a day of rest, and we get up and go to church on Sunday morning, and that is tiring, especially for those of us who have small children to get dressed and ready. But Sunday is one day a week that God asks us to give solely for Him and His worship. ONE day a week. The rest of the week, we do what we want, or need to do. He gave his LIFE and all he asks is one day devoted to Him. Maybe people think, well, I'll devote time to him at home on Sunday evening. Really? I wonder if people are devoting time to Christ or time to their favorite Sunday night TV show.
I think the root of it is that the church has become worldly and the world has become churchy, so they have met in the middle, so to speak. The church is more like a place to go and be entertained, a place to get involved in this group and that group and have fun. Not that I'm against fun, and the church is best place to have fun (don't the funniest things happen in church?). But God didn't call us to Christ to make us happy, he called us to make us holy. And when happiness takes precedence over holiness, we've got our priorities a little out of order. Has the church become nothing more than a glorified social club?
Kids today don't know what a move of God IS because they are in the back of the church being fed cookies and watching a Veggie Tale movie. I have seen kids as young as 3 years old with their hands in the air, weeping and crying under the presence of the Lord. They were IN church and they saw what God was doing in the people around them and got hungry for an experience. We expect kids to be kids and "sow their wild oats" as teenagers, and then, when they've got married and settled down, they will get in church. Things don't HAVE to be that way.
Today, you don't see teenagers gathered at the church on the weekend because they are gathered at the football game or the baseball game or whatever else is going on. Parents want their kids to be involved in everything else, and those things have priority over church activities more often than not. I have seen it happen with my own eyes, at my own home church growing up. The kids whose parents let their kids join band and the baseball team, that became their passion, and today, you can see where their passions lie, and it's not in serving God.
I don't know about you, but I don't care if my kids ever play competitive sports. For one, the attitude of parents is terrible. I don't want to subject my kids to a bunch of screaming, cussing parents and angry coaches. And for two, why is competitiveness so glorified? Competitiveness is basically, "Look how much better I am than you are." Isn't that pride? What good is it doing? Are the kids really having fun? I feel sorry for them. They are under pressure to perform. Anyway, this is off the subject.
I love God's house and strive to instill that same love in my children. I know this is a foreign concept these days, but I'd rather see them working in the church all their lives than to be deemed successful by this world. I pray that America's heart is rededicated and the churches fill up so that they have to open up Sunday night services again. Maybe one good thing that could come of this economic crisis would be a return to dependence on God for our every need, therefore putting Him at the top of the stack. Revival, come quickly!
Here is a picture of Gracie enjoying herself in the Kid's Choir at church: