Psalm 122:1 “I rejoiced with those who said to me, ‘Let us go up to the house of the Lord.’”
How often can you say that? How often can you say that you are really happy, really joy-filled to go to church?
Because that’s what the Psalmist is saying. Be joy-filled that you get to go to church. I expect that not nearly enough of us truly behave that way. And that’s a sad commentary on the state of our society and the state of our church.
What does it mean and what do we do about it?
The state of society – a lack of being joy filled about going to church is a symptom of a couple of things in regards to the state of our society:
- We’re too focused on keeping up with the “Jones.” You know, the ones with the perfect lawn, the spotlessly clean cars, the appearance of absolutely calm and joy in the house (notice I said appearance.) Trying to keep up with them is a no-win proposition.
- We’re too busy. Church becomes one more thing to cross off the to do list.
- Our world has become so digital and so small that we have the ability to listen to worship services from all over the world and our brains are being programmed to have an attention span of less than 5 minutes.
The state of the church – the lack of joy about going to church is a symptom of what is going on in today’s church.
- The search for realism and authenticity – especially the really big churches, the mega churches, but many others as well have fallen into the pattern of creating concerts rather than worship services. Too many times, there’s too much of a focus on lights, sound, performances than there is meaningful conversation with God. There’s too many difficult things going on this world and we need more realism, more authenticity and less performance and “fluff.”
- The state of preaching in the church. Too often, ministers are expected to do a lot of things – so many things that they aren’t able to spend enough time and enough mental energy focusing on what God wants us to hear from that particular passage and how they can lead the church from the pulpit in the way God wants us to go.
- A lack of a personal relationship with God. Most people, if surveyed, would say that they believe “in” God. A lot smaller portion would say that they have a deep personal relationship with God. Churches and the staff and Elders of a church need to work and develop a personal relationship between their congregation and God.
So what do we do to make people more joy-filled to go to to the House of the Lord:
- Make it real. Church needs to be authentic, real, struggle filled and helpful for the daily walk of its members.
- Make it truth. The Bible is not always an easy book to read and follow – but the preachers need to “unpack” what God says, explain it clearly and apply it to our lives. And this takes time and work.
- Make it personal – church is not about going to a concert. It’s not about listening to someone else singing or someone else performing. It’s about you and God. It’s about me and God.
When we have that, we’ll find ourselves much more likely to be joy filled when it’s time go to church.