I noticed a newspaper ad showing a black and white photograph of six men carrying a coffin through the front doors of a church. The caption read: “Will it take six strong men to bring you back into the church?” My first reaction was shock but the ad made me pause and think. What about you?

 Why won’t more people attend church regularly? I hear a lot of excuses:

“I’m too busy.”

“The sermons are dull and the music is old fashioned. Why should I come just to be bored?”
“Church people are such hypocrites. They don’t practice what they preach!”
“I’d rather watch TV and stay home.”
“They only want money or my willingness to serve on a committee.”
“I’m young or I’m divorced or I’m poor. They don’t want me.”
After hearing one of these excuses, I often ask: “Do you believe in God?”

“Oh, yes,” they reply. “I’m just not ready to go back to church.”

For years, my excuse for not attending church was, “I work six days a week in a suit and tie. I just want to sleep-in, relax and read the paper. Why should I dress up again on my only day off?” Truthfully, I just did not feel any great need to be in church. Obviously, my situation changed but why?

“Will it take six strong men to bring you back into the church?”  

Zig Ziglar a well-known motivational speaker and author, literally sold me on the benefits of becoming a Christian and attending church now instead of putting it off until later. Zig described the local church as the body of Christ showing me a piece of Heaven today, not just when we die. What is that piece of heaven? What are those benefits of attending church? I thought you would never ask:

Longer life: Insurance studies show regular church attendance adds 5.7 years to your life.

Wealth: The Bible is full of methods for effectively managing your money.

Peace: There is a special peace of mind knowing God will always be there, no matter what.

Purpose: It’s exciting to know God has a special purpose for your life and mine.

Courage: God will give you courage and strength to make ethical and moral stands.

Love: Learning to love others the way God loves you is a source of happiness and comfort.

Forgiveness: Learning to forgive yourself and others can literally heal your body and your soul.

This is just the short list, but what a picnic basket full of luscious promises! You live longer and manage your financial resources more efficiently. You enjoy peace of mind. You receive supernatural courage to take a stand. You experience the breathtaking love of God and obtain the healing medicine of forgiveness.

“Will it take six strong men to bring back into the church?”

Why do we need to go to church? “Because the church is still the best way to strengthen your relationship with God and with others, find your life’s purpose and receive those special benefits.”

My attitude changed. I found church to be the place where I would be strengthened for my walk with God during the other six days of the week. I couldn’t wait for Sunday.  

Yes, at times, I was busy, the music was awful, the preacher was boring and people are still hypocrites.
But — I also discovered an indescribable love and peace. I found a source for encouragement and a place of acceptance. The church isn’t perfect, but what human institution is?
The Bible says it best: Without wavering, let us hold tightly to the hope we say we have, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near. (Hebrews 10:23-25)

Let’s face it. You do need the church and the church definitely needs you.

If you’ve not been to church in awhile — come back. We’ve missed you. If you are already active with a church, share this story with a friend and invite him/her to join you. It sure beats the alternative offered by this ad. Ecch!!
“Will it take six strong men to bring you back into the church?”
Christmas will not be the same without you. Invite your family and friends and come join us in the best celebration of the year.

Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again.