First: a definition. By showing up, I’m not talking about simply attending church. I’m talking about really showing up to participate in the multi-faceted life of the church, which includes worship and community.
Observers note that people aren’t showing up at church as often. It’s not that they’ve left the church. It’s just that life is busy, and they aren’t as regular as they used to be.
“About 20 years ago, a church member was considered active in the church if he or she attended three times a week,” says Thom Rainer. “Today, a church member is considered active in the church if he or she attends three times a month.” In many churches it’s lower than that.
I want to argue that showing up, week after week, day after day, really matters for three reasons.
It’s easy to approach church as consumers. We ask what we can get from the experience. But we’re meant to approach our life together not as consumers but as worshipers. We gather together, on Sundays and during the week, because God has captured our hearts and we must worship him because he’s that compelling.
Read the book of Acts. The word daily appears often. Gathering once a week wasn’t enough. I don’t think it was because of guilt or obligation. The reality of Jesus was so compelling that they had to gather together because Jesus had become the most compelling reality in their lives. Gathering to pursue Jesus with others on the same passion seemed obvious and natural.
When we love God with all our hearts, souls, and minds, then showing up will be part of our regular rhythm, not primarily for our sake or the sake of others, but for God’s honor. Our schedules reflect what we value most.
Others Need You
God created us to need each other. He designed us to be part of his people, and for our ministry to others within the church to really matter.
It’s one of the reasons why the book of Hebrews says we need to show up.
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
We meet because others need us. They need us to consider how to stir them up to love and good deeds. They need encouragement. The writer states the obvious: if we don’t show up, we can’t do this.
I don’t think we realize the impact that our simple, intentional showing up has on the lives of others. I love how Sam Allberry puts it: “It is almost impossible to overstate the positive impact we can have on others if we are coming looking for ways in which to be an encouragement.”
The church needs your presence. God placed you in the church because others need you. When we don’t show up, we’re robbing others of the encouragement and relationship that God intends for us to give.
We Need It
In his book No Silver Bullets, Daniel Im examines research on behaviors that correlate to the markers of spiritual maturity. Three behaviors rise to the top. Two of them: showing up. Showing up is vital to our growth as followers of Jesus. He writes:
There are a few input goals that consistently predicted a higher score across all eight discipleship attribute output goals. Here are three of them:
- Reading the Bible
- Attending a worship service at your church
- Attending small classes or groups for adults from church, such as Sunday school, Bible study, small groups, Adult Bible Fellowships, etc.
Here’s the bottom line: The research clearly shows that worship services matter and that the maturity level of a disciple is greatly influenced by the frequency that they attend worship services…
The same applies to those who attend small communities (like small groups).
If you want to grow as an apprentice of Jesus, then you need to show up. Your growth depends on it.
A Challenge: Show Up
I’m not talking about becoming a person who’s there every time the church door is unlocked. I’m not talking about burning out and neglecting the rest of your life. I’m definitely not talking about merely “attending” a worship service.
I’m talking about showing up: about making a commitment, right now, in your schedule, to build rhythms in your life that include worship on Sundays and gathering in community, like a small group, during the week. As you follow these rhythms, show up with intentionality to worship God, encourage others, and to grow yourself.
There are few things more countercultural, necessary, and impactful than showing up.