Podcast Episode 2: Church When Convenient
Welcome to Season One Episode Two of the Critiques and Caffeine Podcast! I’m Zach Haas and I run the same blog over at zachhaas.com. In this first season, we are going to be looking at some of the pet peeves I have with Christianity. Thank you for joining me today as we look at how too many people see church, or worshiping God, as a convenient thing to do. Click below to listen along: or head to https://anchor.fm/zach-haas
We live in the age of convenience. At least in America. We are very “me” focused. This is not to say that we aren’t generous, kind, and even nice, but we like things to be convenient. We even have things called “convenient stores” where we are often willing to pay a higher price for something in order to get it faster. (Although, I will say that there’s nothing wrong with an oversized 79 cent fountain drink). As a whole, we live a high paced life with packed schedules and dozens of things constantly vying for our time.
This causes us to prioritize our time.
Whether consciously or not, we make list of things that we are going to get done no matter what. Some things are high priority, and we must do them whether they are convenient or not. Some things we like doing and these generally get a high priority and we find ways to make them convenient. Then, there are things that we like the idea of, or we say we want to make time for. These are things that we end up doing if we are able to find the convenience to do it.
The last category of things is easily ignored. They have no immediate consequence of not doing them. While they sound nice, and even in the back of our minds we want to do them, they are not going to take priority over other things in our oh so busy schedule. As such, they might never actually get done or happen despite eternally sitting in our list of things to do.
A good example of this is gym memberships. Many people sign up for one with good intentions. However, only a fraction of those people actually show up and utilize it. They want to get in shape, they want to exercise, but it is not convenient. There are other things that need to be done. They have to put together a gym bag, and drive to the gym. But there are tv shows to watch, meals to be made, kids to take care of. Getting to the gym is not a priority, it is not convenient, and it just doesn’t happen.
It is with this same approach that far too many people handle God and the Church. If it doesn’t conveniently line up with their schedule and their family’s schedule it just doesn’t happen. Despite the Bible’s nearly inexhaustible attempts to tell people to place God at the top and make him the number one priority in our lives. This just doesn’t seem to be something we take seriously. I think we have all fallen short of this at times in our lives.
The excuses for why this happens are never-ending.
Sports practices, family in town, stayed up too late on Saturday night. You pick. There are always things that will tempt us to lower God on our list of priorities. This is a mistake and sets us up for bad habits. The Bible is quite clear that we are to have no idols. Sports, parties, entertainment, and even our dedication to our family can become idols that we prioritize over our God. Plain and simple, all too often we are not making God the number one priority in our lives and we are paying for it.
Now, and maybe this is another peeve to be discussed at a later time, but I don’t think that we should be legalistic about it either. While I do think we should make every effort to be at church on Sunday mornings there are real reasons not to be. If we are sick or taking care of someone who is sick, we should stay home. Also, there are people who have to work on Sunday and cannot attend church. You need to work. Working is good. There are also some important things in life that might come up. Perhaps, your son or daughter is, in fact, going to some kind of rare sporting event, or concert, or giving a presentation. I think this is okay. We need to provide a Christian influence to the world.
However, if we are missing church on Sunday, especially if it is something that we have to do consistently, what are we doing to still show that God is top priority? If it’s a family sports event taking us away from church, are we still praying? Or if we are taking care of someone, are we praying with them and reminding them that God is in control? If we have to work on Sundays, how are we connecting with a community of believers? In a small group? Find a worship service that meets when we are not working? These are ways we can still make God a priority.
There is nothing in the Bible that says worshiping God and being a good Christian is going to be convenient.
As a matter of fact, it is far more likely that it is going to be the opposite. Often the disciples had to scramble for food. Jesus talked about how he had no place to lay his head. The disciples were taken care of by God, and he will do the same for us.
On the other hand, I also want to be clear that making God a priority does not mean getting into the church every time the door is open. You don’t have to go to every small group, prayer meeting, fundraiser, worship service, outreach event, or concert in order to make God a top priority. This is unrealistic. There is nothing wrong with spending the majority of your time in the church building, but it is also important to be going out and doing the work of God.
Obsessing over trying to do everything a church has to offer will not only burn you out, it may also be revealing a problem in your life. Are you trying to make up for something by never missing something the church is up to? Is it a pride issue? Remember, the Pharisees were really good at looking like they were the most holy people, but their motives were wrong and Jesus called them out on it.
What you need to do ultimately comes down to a conversation that you should have with God.
If you can honestly say that he is the number one priority in your life, then you are good to go. Maybe, this means not going to church at all because you are too busy living the mission of God. That’s great! However, perhaps you are simply putting God on the back burner and getting around to worshiping him when it fits in your schedule. That’s not great. Either way, it is good for us to ask God to reveal things in our lives that are causing us to not make him a priority.
I think one of the reasons well-meaning and “good” Christians mess this up is because there isn’t normally an immediate consequence for our action. When we let God slide down on our list of priorities he doesn’t jump right in and stop us to get us back on track. He allows us to take steps in the wrong direction to see if we are going to turn ourselves around. Unlike a toddler, who will immediately let you know that you are not making them top priority, God is a little more patient.
It’s kind of like brushing our teeth. If you miss brushing for one night, you might have bad breath. Maybe. If you don’t brush for a week, there still probably won’t be any real lasting consequences. However, if you go without brushing or flossing for months on end, your teeth and gums become affected. We might not even know it until a dentist points it out, but rest assured, we are hurting our oral health.
This is how it works with our spiritual priorities.
The more we let God slide, the more we set priorities above him the further away we get from the person we are meant to be. It gets easier and easier. We think, well, my car didn’t break down because I skipped church, so God must be okay with it. Nope. Think about it, there are a lot of really bad people out there who aren’t feeling the wrath of God directly in their lives. The lack of immediate consequences doesn’t justify our actions.
The point I am trying to make here is that we all could use some work in prioritizing God. Maybe some of us more than others. We have to remember, especially if we are parents, the practices that we are doing as a family are the practices they are going to learn to live with. If our children constantly see us pushing God to the side, they aren’t going to see why they need to make him a priority either.
At the end of the day, God is the only thing that matters. If we establish good habits, and make him the number one priority, everything. Literally everything. Will fall into place as it should according to his good and perfect plans.
Thanks for tuning in to the Critiques and Caffeine Podcast! I look forward to sharing more pet peeves with you next time. God bless.