(This post is a random rant and not part of BTW IDK)
Parents, when your students don’t come to church, I feel like a failure. I know its not logical, reasonable, or even right, but I feel like an absolute failure as a pastor when students don’t show up for church.
I take it personally, instantly. I think about what I may have said, or done, or failed to do that could make this student fail to reappear a week later. Was I too honest, or too shallow with the scripture? Was I too funny or too serious? Did I forget their name or fail some test of friendship? I don’t know why, but if something is wrong, I always think it’s me.
In my brain I know there are logical reasons for their absence. They are out of town. They are visiting a friend’s youth group. They are visiting a relative in the hospital. They are in the hospital. But for some reason I tend to focus on the illogical reasons. They overslept. They just didn’t feel like coming. They had something more important to do. And there lies the rub. I feel that our youth group time is very important, and when students and parents do not hold it as high of importance as I do, it hurts.
Imagine throwing a birthday party for your best friend, and people telling you that isn’t as important as their music recital or their sporting event. Your best friends celebration isn’t as important to them as their stuff. It’s tough to hear. I feel like every week I throw a party for my best friend Jesus, and it’s hard to hear that other things are more important to people than my best friend.
Now, I’m not writing this to make anyone feel guilty, but to express my point of view, and admit my brokenness and shortcomings as a pastor. I know that the book of life is not a record of attendance, but a list of people who have good hearts and solid relationships with God. I know that going to church doesn’t make you a Christian, just like going to a football game doesn’t make you a football player.
I am aware that you can not go to church and still love God, but I also know that it’s tough to keep a relationship going without being around that person. And it’s even harder to grow that relationship if you are not communicating with each other. The bible says that where two or three are gathered in God’s name, He is there in their midst (Matthew 18:20). God places a stipulation on His presence: community. Its tough to hang out with God on your own, but when you are with other believers, it’s easy. It’s also tough to hear God’s voice when you are alone, and easier to hear it when you are around other believers who care about you.
And this is why Church is so important. Life is meant to be done together. Even God by his own nature is a community (father, son, spirit). We are a better group when we are together. See, when you miss church, you are not just missing a message that’s been prepared or a song that’s been arranged or a life group that’s been organized; the group is missing out on your perspective of God’s truth and your voice in our worship and your thoughts and experiences in our discussion. See you are not missing out on church, the church is missing out on you!
Again, I’m not writing this to change your mind or actions, just trying to be honest about where I am in my heart. If by chance you want to make Jesus an important part of your students life, I’ll be throwing a party for Him each week and they are invited to join me. I may be wrong in some of my thinking, and I welcome any ideas or thoughts you may have on the subject and would live to discuss them with you.