Times have changed quite a bit. When I was a boy, getting dressed up for church was a thing. Then it turned into looking spiffy on special days like Easter Sunday. Gradually, many churches all across America went lax with their unspoken dress codes - so much so that if I wear a tie and a sport coat, people will make comments or ask questions about why I'm all dressed up.
It's ALL ABOUT THE WHY!
Interested in a 20-minute video on generational differences in the church? Check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7MQiMWVkgUA
30 years ago dressing nice was important because - you know - "Sunday best." You put on your best clothes for God because He deserves the best of everything you have.
The sentiment nowadays is that God looks at the heart. Anybody can wear fancy clothes, but how committed are those people to the ways of God? Also, not everyone can wear fancy clothes. A concern grew around those who couldn't afford the nicer digs and may feel like they didn't belong at certain churches because of cultural and economic disparity. So someone who dresses in ripped jeans and flip-flops is not trying to give God their worst but doesn't feel compelled to dress up for the Lord.
This post is not about how we dress for church though...
It is about why we go and meet with the church in the first place.
The way that church has been done in the US for the past 15 or so years has been a strange mix between trying to honor and praise the Almighty God while trying to attract and appease the very powerful CONSUMER.
This has solidified the approach that many young families take when looking for a church or in weighing whether or not to attend their church on a particular Sunday.
Questions that are being asked are:
What are we getting out of going to church?
How good are the youth programs? Do my kids like to go?
How is the teaching? Preaching? Singing?
Is this a valuable way to spend 1-2 hours of my Sunday morning?
I think these types of evaluation questions can be good for considering how we can best honor God. These questions however stink when we ask them with the focus of honoring ourselves. That line can be fine and it can be a mile wide. You can only judge for yourself where you are at with these things.
What if you flip those questions around?
What are we contributing to the church when we show up on Sunday?
How are we helping make the youth program the best it can be?
Does the worship honor God?
Where would God have me be this coming Sunday? Am I following His will or my own?
The different sets of questions represent two different approaches to the answer of the question, WHY?
Brian Sanders, in his book Underground Church, tells the story of how he and a couple of dozen others quit church. They were so disillusioned by the rituals and doctrines, they needed a break. So they took it and set off on a journey of searching the Scriptures, exploring how other cultures do church, and petitioning God for direction. In the end, he writes, what their Sunday morning fellowship and worship times looked like were very similar to what they had left behind. Something major had shifted, however, now they all knew what they were doing and why they were doing it.
When we are dedicated to following Jesus and are committed to living a life that is holy - it is hard to outline a way to be successful outside of having a bunch of other like-minded people to meet with on a regular basis for reminders and encouragement.
I do believe that a lot of churches need to give young families better reasons to show up. We can do better.
Young families it is not just important to bring your kids to church, it is important to know WHY you are going in the first place. If you don't know why or you have selfish motives, you are probably not showing up very often. If you are, make sure that AS YOU GO, you are taking the time to communicate to your children the reasons WHY.