Someone asked me if I had been going to church my entire life. I replied, “Not yet.” I can tell you this though, I began attending church approximately 9-months before I was born, and I’m still going. My mother believed we should go to Sunday School and church on Sundays, unless we were either dead or within close proximity of it! If I stayed home sick, Mama made sure I stayed sick all day. No miraculous recoveries were allowed right after lunch. I can’t remember ever asking, “Are we going to church today?” We were. With the exception of a period of time in my older-teenage years, and now for several months during the coronavirus shutdown, I’ve been in church. I hope to continue for the rest of my days. Almost all my adult life has been spent in some type of ministry. I have often been like that guy who said, “I went to church every time the doors were open…and often I was the one who opened them!” I must say, due to the shutdown, I not only missed corporate worship, but I also missed being with the church. I was so, “Glad when they said unto me, let us go unto the house of the Lord.”
I am concerned. As we are scrambling to get our lives back to normal, many don’t seem to be scrambling quite as much to get back to church. While it seems that most churches are meeting again, at least on Sunday mornings, many of their members seem to have missed the announcement. Attendance has fallen off so much in some churches that they aren’t going to survive. Many small congregations were struggled before the shutdown. Even smaller attendance will push some of them on over the edge.
Some parishioners may have decided they don’t need to go back, but I think many have simply fallen out of the habit of going. Now you may be thinking that worshiping together should be more than a habit. I agree, but having said that, the simple act of getting up, getting ready, and going is habit forming. We indeed are creatures of habit. Some of those habits are bad ones, and some of them are good ones. Probably all of us, myself included, have a few habits we would do well to lose. They say, confession is good for the soul, so here goes mine – I like food too much. I am like the guy who said his favorite indoor sport is eating. We often joke about this problem, but it does cause problems.
We also have good habits, like brushing our teeth and good hygiene. Going to work is a good habit, but it also a necessity, unless we are retired, wealthy, or disabled. Going to church is a good habit, but some do not see this habit as a necessity. I’ve often been told by others, “I don’t need to go to church.” I must disagree. I believe much like good hygiene improves our physical well-being, worshiping with other Christians is good for our spiritual health. Dr. Tom Rainer, at churchanswers.com, stated that it takes 6 weeks to create a habit. He went on to say that it will take an intentional strategy to see the return of church members and new guests. I believe the church, as well as individuals, must make a disciplined effort to get back in the good habit of church attendance. As the Bible says, “Let us not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some.” (Hebrews 10:25)
— Bill King is a native of Rainsville, where he and his wife graduated from Plainview High School. King is a director of missions in Opelika, a writer, musician and author. His column appears in the Times-Journal Tuesday edition. Visit brobillybob.com for more information.