By Juan Sanchez
Some members don’t need much of an excuse to miss church on Sundays.
Thom Rainer suggests there are nine common low-attendance occasions in churches: spring break, holiday weekends, bad weather, good weather, sporting events, summer, time change (two of these), a pastor’s vacation, and the period from Christmas to New Years.
As a pastor, it’s easy to be frustrated by these trends. But, let’s look at this from a different, more helpful perspective.
You’re the pastor and you’re called to shepherd God’s sheep. So, rather than just wish everyone did what they’re supposed to, why not pastor your flock to understand why they should gather with the church every Lord’s Day?
We need to shepherd and lead God’s sheep from where they are currently to Christlike maturity in order to present everyone complete in Christ.
Let’s shepherd God’s sheep, then, to understand why Christians gather together every Sunday—not just on some Sundays. When our congregations truly understand who Jesus is and what the resurrection means, every Sunday will be Easter Sunday.
For the Christian, every Sunday is Easter because from its beginnings, the church gathered on Sundays—the first day of the week—to remember Jesus’ resurrection.
Consider the historical record as laid out by New Testament theologian Richard Bauckham in the book From Sabbath to Lord’s Day. At the risk of oversimplification, I want to summarize Bauckham’s three reasons Christians should gather together each Sunday.
1. Because Jesus rose from the dead on a Sunday
The early church met on the Lord’s Day to commemorate Jesus’ resurrection. All four gospels emphasize Jesus’ resurrection on the first day of the week.
Though we can’t prove this was the reason Sunday worship was established, early Christians did connect gathering on the first day of the week with the Lord’s resurrection.
Early church history attests to this as well.
2. Because Sunday was set aside by early Christians as the Lord’s Day
By the end of the first century, the “Lord’s Day” had already become a technical term that referenced to the first day of the week, Sunday, as the Christian gathering day. John used the term in Revelation 1:10.
3. Because Sunday was the day the early church gathered for distinctly Christian worship
By the middle of the second century, Lord’s Day worship gatherings had become the universal practice of the church. This is the day Christians gathered to remember Jesus’ death and to take part in the Lord’s Supper.
Both the historical and biblical record reveal the Lord’s Day was the chosen gathering day for distinctly Christian worship because it was the day Jesus rose from the dead.
Every Sunday the church gathers, then, it remembers and celebrates the resurrection of Jesus. When Christians understand who Jesus is and what the resurrection means–every Sunday is Easter Sunday.
Celebrate the Resurrection Weekly
Because of this, we should help our people approach each Sunday with the same mindset and investment we put into Easter Sunday. Encourage your people to gather with the church this Sunday as you confess together that Jesus Christ is risen and has been granted all authority in heaven and on earth.
Encourage your people to gather with the church this Sunday as you humbly submit to Jesus’ authoritative Word. Challenge your people to gather with the church this Sunday as you hear testimonies of God’s grace.
Encourage your people to gather with the church this Sunday as you remind one another of the good news that Jesus is alive, is with His people, and will return.
When the church body gather together on the Lord’s Day, they await Jesus’ return to consummate the promised kingdom of righteousness, justice, and peace.
So, encourage your people to gather together every Sunday as you celebrate Easter all over again!