One of the things that every living human has in common is that they all get the same amount of time each day to live their lives out as best they can. The earth takes 24 hours to spin, and the sun gives us roughly 12-15 hours of daylight each day.
When someone tells me that they are too busy for church, I wonder if they really are too busy or if there is something they aren’t telling me. So what are we really talking about when we say we are too busy? Here are 5 things your people might really mean when they say that they are too busy for church….
I’m too busy because I’m a victim of my schedule
Here’s what this sounds like: “We’ve just had a hard time getting to church because of ______ sports team practice and games.” Basically, this person has been deemed unworthy of the 24 hours in the day the rest of us get and is a victim of the system. I struggle to have patience with those who use this as an excuse for not making it to church. I see you on Instagram! I SEE YOU!
Whether it is the athletic system or the school system, saying “no” is a skill that will make you happier in life when you learn to say it.
“It’s not my fault!” this person says, because if they could do anything about it, they would rearrange their schedule to make it to worship gatherings but it’s just not in their power.
But it is, and the sooner we realize that the victim mentality is more about priorities than time management, we’ll realize that God wasn’t playing around when the Spirit inspired Hebrews 10:24-25.
I’m too busy because I’ve prioritized without church in mind
I saw this illustration once at a conference where the speaker had a jar, a rock, and some sand. He filled the jar with sand first and then tried to fit the rock in. It wouldn’t go. The rock represented Jesus and the sand was everything else. Then he put the rock in the empty jar and poured the same amount of sand in over it and it all fit.
Many of your people will schedule their lives out first and give the remaining time (if any) to spiritual growth and church community. It is your job as a pastor to help train them to put God first, even in their scheduling. It’s why the tithe was often called “first-fruits” because they came first. Also, “Last-Fruits” just sounds stupid. Don’t call it Last Fruits.
A common reason for the mismanagement of time is….
I have failed to understand the importance of Christian community
I love a good buffet, especially if it’s Americanized Chinese food (I say Americanized because my last trip to Taiwan taught me that authentic Chinese food comes straight from the ocean and isn’t orange chicken and I don’t like seafood and you can’t make me). However, if Church is treated like the Christian buffet of spiritual growth, then “going deeper in community” or “doing life together” is the equivalent of that huge pan of broccoli at the end. Like anyone is going to eat the broccoli. It doesn’t matter how good it is for you, we’re going to walk right by it. Throw some cheese on it and we’ll talk…
I believe that many fail to value the community and fellowship of believers because they have so many other communities around them that they like better. The school has all but taken over modern suburban living and batting cleanup we find every club sport you can imagine. After all, they’re already saved, right? So what’s the point of adding another thing to the schedule?
Here’s where we have to make sure we help them understand the benefit of Christian community. Theology is meant to be learned in community to prevent heresy. Spiritual gifts are meant to be used in community to build up the body. Parenting is meant to be done in community to provide support in raising Godly Children. Care for widows and orphans is meant to be a community effort when family isn’t there for them.
A short surf through most Facebook feeds will show you that lots of people know verses from the Bible, but have no idea how to connect them into solid theological beliefs. Someone told me that the Bible teaches that knowledge was the enemy of God and we shouldn’t seek it. The Scripture reference? Genesis 2:15-17. That’s why community is important. Someone should be in our lives to pull us aside and lovingly say, “Hey bro, I’ve got a different teaching on that passage. Can we talk about it?”
Only when we are in relationship with others and have built trust can we have conversations like that that stem from love and lead to Truth. Just because you watch church on TV and can read the Bible yourself does NOT mean that you understand it well. I’ll attest to that for myself! Any other amens?
I don’t really like going to church
When some people say they are “too busy” for church, it sometimes means that they just don’t like it. Can we be ok with the fact that everyone doesn’t like your particular brand of church? We’re not debating the right or wrongness of this attitude, but we need to be able to accept that these feelings are real, even if the reasons aren’t good.
When someone just doesn’t like our church, reaching out to find out what they find so difficult is valuable. If they hate the music, then maybe Bible study small groups is a better place for them to enter. If they don’t like small groups, then that’s cool too. Just being heard sometimes allows space for an introverted, late-adopter to get used to the idea before they jump in. When church is one-size-fits-all, whoever doesn’t fit will leave. Plus, hooray for real relationships, right?
Let’s be honest here for a second about our churches. We put a lot into the production of it, don’t we? Even the small churches are concerned with how people are greeted and if there’s enough seating and if the music is good and the preaching powerful. I’m all for excellence because God deserves it, but not for excellence’s sake.
Of course, it could be that they honestly are too busy. Sometimes we just plan too much and our people feel like they have to come to it all. However, if you have sporting events planned on Sundays, that’s on you, man. Just don’t get offended when we don’t call you for leadership roles. We need to be able to trust our leaders to be consistent.
What other things could your people really mean when they say that they are busy? Sound off in the comments and thanks for reading! I feel like this one was pretty heavy handed and some people can feel beat up a little, so here’s a video about hot koolaid.
PS. I do a podcast too, if you didn’t know, called The Seminary of Hard Knocks. Every other Tuesday I release new content there and we have a good time, just like here. Go subscribe because this week, I sat down with two of my best friends to discuss race relationships. It’s a good one. Thanks!