Show up!

Father David Epps's picture

“What can we, as the men of the church, do to make your life easier?” The question came from one of the men attending a Men’s Prayer Breakfast at our church where I had just concluded some remarks and had opened the floor to questions. In over 35 years of ministry, it was the first time I had been asked that question. Oh, people have said, “How can I help?” or “What do you need?” but not, “What can we do to make your life easier?”

I didn’t even have to think about the answer. Actually, for the most part, pastors don’t ask all that much of their congregations, but the answer I gave was very serious and from the heart: “Show up,” I said. “Show up.”

The writer of Hebrews admonishes, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing ...” (Heb. 10:25 NASB). Even in the early church, some Christians were developing a habit of absenteeism and received the rebuke of the writer of Hebrews.

Sometimes, victory is achieved just by showing up. Our church league softball team went 0-39 before winning the first game. Shortly thereafter, the team went 9-0 and won the league championship for their division.

But of the nine wins, two were forfeits; that is, the other team failed to field enough players to have a game. So, we won two games, and thus the trophy, by all our team members simply showing up, and the other two teams lost because of the failure of someone on their side to be in their appointed place.

There is also the matter of momentum. No one gave John McCain a ghost of a chance to win the Republican nomination for president early in the ‘08 campaign. But then the momentum changed and now he is the presumptive nominee.

Similarly, Hillary Clinton was thought to be the inevitable winner of the Democratic nomination but—momentum changed. Now, there is the very real possibility that Barack Obama, who has won 11 primaries in a row, may be the Democratic nominee.

What is momentum? Really, the first step to momentum is people simply showing up.

When Michael Vick was unable to play in the 2007 NFL season, momentum crashed and the Atlanta Falcons never recovered. On the other hand, regardless of whether the team is winning or losing, the Green Bay Packers have sold out every game at home since 1960.

Fans have been known to leave season tickets in their wills and newborn infants have been placed on the season ticket waiting list. The very presence of these faithful and loyal fans who have consistently shown up in the worst weather imaginable contributes much to the legendary success of this great football team. If the stands were half-empty, would the Packers still win? Doubtful.

When people come to a church and the church is full, a positive momentum is present — even visitors pick up on it. There is an excitement, an energy present. When the church is half-full, momentum begins to tank and, again, even the visitors pick up on it.

It is hard to stop positive momentum (just ask Hillary Clinton), and it is difficult to recover from a negative momentum. But it can be done.

The answer? Just show up. While illness, vacations, and work schedules may interfere with church attendance, there really is no other excuse for not showing up. Besides, Hebrews goes on to state that it is in the church meeting together that “we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds ...” and that we may “encourage one another” (Heb. 10:24-25 NASB).

Christians were never built to be isolated individuals or families. There is no such concept in scriptures as, “It’s just me, my Bible, and Jesus.” And, no, one can’t be “just as good a Christian” and not be part of a worshipping community. Rather, one of the secrets of a successful Christian life is “showing up” to worship, work, and fellowship with other believers.

Nearly everything positive in the Christ-like life begins with “showing up.” What can you do for me to make my life easier or the life of your own pastor easier? Show up. You will eventually have a better life, and that makes our lives easier.

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