Sundays used to mean rising early, hymnals, Sunday school offertories, and great meals cooked by my mum. Not any more. Well, not quite. The latter certainly remains. Of course, not everyone is a Christian. This means that your Sundays may not have looked like mine, growing up. Thus it’s unlikely you mourn the change in your church routine.
However, statistically among Ugandans, that only describes 1 in 5. Because over 80% of Ugandans profess to be Christians, even if many of them remain entirely unchurched. On the other hand, many others are attached to booming urban fellowships and churches. Unfortunately, these tend to offer little or no accountability. With all that being said, most Ugandan churches aren’t bursting at the seams Sunday to Sunday.
The weekly practise of gathered worship increasingly looks like something our parents did.
When Were You Last In Church?
Today, the practise of gathered worship as part of our weekly routine increasingly looks like something our parents or forebears did. Older generations had a culture of attending church. But modern and younger Ugandans are freer, liberated from the stifling rigmarole of religious meetings. Far from being a commitment, those meetings now fit our schedules and plans.
We Go To Church If & When It Suits Us
A plethora of Sunday morning activities are rapidly replacing gathered worship, from school activities to a weekly ‘sleep in.’ All the while, Sunday church attendance dwindles. But the dividing line between those in church and those who aren’t does not have professing Christians on one side and those who don’t identify as Christians on the other. By this I mean there are many Christians who have adopted a casual view towards corporate worship gatherings. On the other hand, there are many non-Christians sitting in churches and pews.
It’s very easy to fall out of church attendance as Christians. This has been a painful lesson learnt through the pandemic.
Sure, there is room for leisure, even God glorifying rest. But we must all be aware of at least two things. Firstly, it’s very easy to fall out of church attendance as Christians. This has been a painful lesson learnt through the pandemic. For, once lockdowns lifted and services resumed, many professing Christians didn’t come back. They had fallen out of the habit. Sunday services now appear more as an inconvenience than an invitation to worship God and meet with his people.
We Should Go To Church To Serve Others
Secondly, this is not only detrimental to our own faith but takes from the faith of others. Let me explain.
The Bible is packed with exhortations to meet together for the purpose of encouraging one another. For example, in Hebrews the author exhorts believers to be concerned about the faithful perseverance of others (Hebrews 3:12-13).
The purpose Hebrews provides for meeting together is so that believers can spur one another on.
Later, in the oft quoted Hebrews 10:24-25, the writer exhorts Christians to keep meeting together. But this is not to fill the pews or ensure an energetic time of singing. The purpose he provides for meeting together is so that believers can spur one another on (Hebrews 10:24), especially as the day of judgment draws nearer (Hebrews 10:25). In other words, his encouragement in the battle against sin is set in the context of gathered worship.
Finding Christian Community
Of course the excesses of our mile wide and inch deep African churches have kept many away. But counterfeits should only remind us of the genuine product. Healthy churches still exist. One can still find pastors committed to faithfully preaching the Bible rather than those fervently peddling another gospel for gain.
The Christian faith has an intractably corporate nature. It cannot be carried out in isolation.
Over one third of the New Testament addresses local churches. ‘Lone wolf Christianity’ was an anomaly in the early Church. We who love to schedule alternatives on Sunday mornings should remember that. The Christian faith has an intractably corporate nature. It cannot be carried out in isolation; nor can it be properly expressed without actively engaging in the faith of others. According to Ephesians 2:11-12, when we come to God through Christ, we are brought together with other Christians.
So, please, do not wait for four strong men to carry your casket to church, long after the day you breathed your last. Engage in the Sunday worship gathering while you are still physically alive, proving that you have been made spiritually alive! God has given us Christian community so we may spiritually carry each other now, rather than only physically later.