Slideshow image

[The following is excerpted from the book, Gather: Getting to the Heart of Going to Church, Copyright © 2021 by M. Hopson Boutot. Click here to download the entire book for free.] 

Not all church attendance is created equal. As with anything else in life, it’s possible to do the right thing for the wrong reasons. So over the next few blog posts we’ll consider a few types of sinful attenders.

For nearly two thousand years some Christians have attended church for what they can get. They’ve attended not to contribute, but to consume. This is one of the major problems that Paul is addressing in 1 Corinthians 11. Many believers are gathering for the worse because they’re attending as consumers. Paul explains, “For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not” (1 Corinthians 11:21-22).

Notice Paul’s heart in these verses. Some are hungry. Those who have nothing are being humiliated. Which leads to a key insight about consumer attenders: when you attend as a consumer you’re usually doing so at someone else’s expense. Remember the way God designed the church to function. We’re a body, with each member playing a key part in the wellbeing of the whole. Whenever a member attends merely to consume instead of to contribute, someone is left picking up the slack. 

Mere attendance is not enough. If we leave our hearts on autopilot, we will gravitate towards a consumer mindset. It takes intentionality to contribute to the good of the body. But after thirty-six years of regular church attendance, I can assure you of this: it is the contributor, not the consumer who finds the most joy in the gathering of God’s people. So don’t just show up. For God’s glory and your good, show up and serve. Choosing rightly about gathering means choosing to gather to contribute, not merely to consume.