Today, I drove past a church with a marquee out front that read: “Spring break is not an excuse for being absent from church.”
Every now and then I see a church sign that makes me want to find its author, smack them upside the back of the head Gibbs’ style (NCIS) and say, “No! Stop it!” This sign was one of those.
My passenger even commented, “Sheesh, they won’t give their people ONE day a year to miss church?”
The sign either meant that (1) the church is extremely legalistic about church attendance, (2) attendance is already small and a few people being away can make a big dent, or (3) some surly, angry deacon is angry that others DID get to go on a vacation he wanted to, but couldn’t.
The sign is the classic guilt-trip. It’s the spring break Jesus-Juke. “No, we can’t let you miss church to have fun with your family and friends.”
I believe in the church. I also believe it’s important not merely to attend a church, but truly engage a community in discipleship and service. Being a part of the body of Christ is a privilege and a duty to be about carrying out Christ’s ongoing work in the world.
But I also believe in breaks. There are Sundays where it would probably do you (and your whole family) good to just STAY HOME.
First, for many of us, church is WORK. We serve. Then we serve more. Sundays are rituals in getting up, getting dressed, being there early, and doing whatever it is we have to do. And while the experience can and should be awesome, it can also be draining and tiring. We drag our families into a tiring church lifestyle – a lifestyle that leads to burnout, distance from loved ones, and – eventually – a strain on one’s faith, if not kept in check. For us, our Sabbath is anything but. We do not find the rest that we not only need, but is mandated in Scripture.
Second, we need to learn – and our church leaders need to acknowledge – that church can go on without us. It will survive. If its success rises and falls based on your presence there, then I suggest that something is very wrong with your church.
Finally, people who spend their weekdays (Monday – Friday) engaging in ministry and serving others where they work and/or go to school or wherever prove that church does not have to be “all about the Sundays.” Missing a Sunday becomes not such a big deal when your life reflects a Christ-like nature to engage in community and serve people every day, and not merely pack the whole experience into one to two hours on Sunday morning. So what if you miss Sunday when your whole week is a testimony to worship, community, and service?
So I hope you enjoyed (or will enjoy) your spring break. We live in a crazy busy world, and you need/deserve a break. So take it.
And do not let anyone make you feel guilty for taking the break.
Angry deacons included.