What’s your attitude when you come to church?

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another– and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

(Hebrews 10:24-25 NIV)

I wonder what your attitude is when you show up to a church meeting, whether midweek or on a Sunday. Is it something like: “Impress me!”? Are you assessing the church for whether it meets your needs? Are you querying whether the church will provide a Christian social life for you or your family? Is it a question of whether the preaching is good enough, or the music, or even the coffee?

When you put it down like that in black and white it feels a bit crass. It’s rather obviously a consumer attitude to the church and, if we’re Christians, we should hopefully instinctively feel there’s something wrong with that. We know that church is supposed to be family (e.g. Galatians 6:10) and I hope you don’t show up to your family gatherings requiring to be impressed if they want you to come back!

Of course we need a church to be committed to the gospel, faithful to Jesus our Saviour. When a church rejects core gospel truths it stops being a church (we define those in our doctrinal basis). But if we are attending a true church then our attitude shouldn’t be about what the church can do for me so much as what I can for my brothers and sisters in the church.

Hebrews 10:24-25 gives us three things that centre on other people:

  1. Spurring one another on to love and good deeds.
  2. Not giving up meeting together.
  3. Encouraging one another.

The second is a striking challenge in our consumer-culture. We don’t only come to something when we feel like it. We don’t drift away because something else takes our attention. We don’t give up meeting because it’s hard. We commit to being there, because we care. And of course, if we do drift away, we can’t expect to keep going ourselves as Christians.

The first and third activities are in contrast to this. They express the idea that we need to meet together, because to do these things you need other believers. You need to have “one another” to make it work. The encouragement and spurring on are about how we help each other live the Christian life (“love and good deeds”). This might be as the Bible is taught at the front, but it could also be in the discussion at the Growth Group, or the conversation after the meeting. It could be in your commitment to pray or your example in singing passionately. It could be in a kind word to a struggling parent or godly advice from an older believer to a younger believer. There are so many ways we can do this, but we have to meet with a heart to serve each other for it to work.

When the church meets, it shouldn’t be a selfish or self-centred act focused on what we’re getting. Church meetings are intended to be an opportunity to serve each other (we follow a serving Lord after all, e.g. Mark 10:45). Paradoxically, as we give, we will find ourselves part of a community where we ourselves are encouraged and spurred on by other serving brothers and sisters.

I don’t know about you, but I want to be ready for when Jesus returns. Well the author of Hebrews puts that as the motivation for meeting together with a heart set on serving others. We act in this way “all the more as you see the day approaching.” I wonder if you see meeting on a Sunday and mid-week as opportunities to prepare for Jesus returning.

So when you go to the Sunday meeting or the Growth Group or whatever meeting it is, don’t make your first question: What can I get out of this? Instead, ask: How can I serve my family today?