I was surprised to read that some columnists (like this one) are complaining that some churches are choosing not to have services on Christmas day. Even (gasp!) Willow Creek has decided not to open the doors on Christmas. What’s the big deal?
The columnist I linked to says that not having church on Christmas means: 1.) We love things more than we love Jesus. 2.) The church is compromising. 3.) The church is hypocritical. 4.) Non-christians think we are compromising and hypocritical. 5.) The family has become more important than Jesus.
All this because of skipping one service. This leads me to ask the question, what is the purpose of a church service, anyway? According to this guy, we go to show the world that we are self-sacrificing world-haters who would rather attend church than see our families. In his defense, he also says that a church service is an opportunity to “gather with God’s people for worship.” A noble endeavor, of course, but is that it?
To me, it depends on whether the purpose of Christianity is to facilitate church services, or whether the purpose of church services is to facilitate Christianity. I fall into the latter camp. I attend church for the same reason I take my car to the gas station — it’s an opportunity to fuel up. I gain spiritual energy through fellowship and corporate worship, helping me to live the rest of the week as Jesus would have me do. Missing one week doesn’t drain my tank, and some services (you’ve been to them, too) don’t exactly overflow the tank, either.
I didn’t decide to follow Jesus so that I can attend church services. I attend services to help me follow Jesus. Church is not what we do on Sunday morning. Church is when we talk with our friends, when we gather with our families, when we live out our Christian faith in our everyday lives. I don’t know about you, but I definitely will be “attending church” on Christmas.