Over the Christmas holidays, my mom gave me a big plastic tub filled with all kinds of keepsakes and memories from my childhood. And babyhood. Yeah, this box is full of really old stuff. Cool old pictures (some of them in black and white), old report cards and school certificates (it appears I was really smart until my senior year of high school), and my baby book.
Inside this box is a 43-year-old church bulletin. October 30, 1966. Pleasant Grove Church of Christ. On page three it says, “Allan Wayne Stanglin arrived Friday to bring sunshine and joy to his proud parents, Beverly and John. May God bless this sweet family.”
I guess they put my mom’s name first because she did most of the work.
On page one there is a full-page article titled “The Case of Bible Study Skipper.” It begins, “The story you are about to read is true; only the names have been changed to protect the guilty.”
“My name is Bible Study Skipper. I am a lazy member of the church.”
The article goes on to detail Bible Study Skipper’s typical Sunday morning routine: oversleeping, hitting the snooze, eating a long breakfast, showing up to worship 15-minutes late, skipping Bible class. The last paragraph of the article goes like this:
“The trial was held on the day of judgment in Department 22, in and for the state of ‘Heaven.’ The suspect, Bible School Skipper, was tried and convicted on a charge of neglect. First degree neglect! Punishment will be assigned by the Judge of all the earth. It is obvious that punishment will be eternal death.”
The name of the bulletin is the Pleasant Proclaimer! Seriously!
OK. We’ve tried that.
We’ve also tried blowing off the importance of our scheduled assemblies. We’ve told the joke about the great noise of cheering in the line outside heaven’s gates when it’s divinely revealed that Wednesday nights don’t count! Imposing rules is legalistic and wrong. Show up when you can. Christianity isn’t in what happens at the church building.
We’ve tried that, too.
Both of these extremes, though, miss the point. Our assembly times together are very, very important. All of them. But maybe not for the reasons you think.
At Legacy, we expect every single member to participate weekly in the Sunday worship assembly, both Sunday AM and Wednesday PM Bible classes, and our Sunday evening Small Groups Church. Every week. Every member. Those three things. We are fully and firmly convinced that when we are together at Legacy we are being fed and nurtured, motivated and challenged, and encouraged in our walks with the Lord. We do not believe these times are optional. We believe they are vital.
Sharing the Gospel story, singing the story, reading the story, talking about the story, eating the story together at this place is critical to our faith in a thousand different ways. Celebrating our salvation together around our Lord’s table is vital to the building up of the Body. Studying God’s Word together in a smaller, less formal class setting is vital to an increased knowledge of the Son of God. And being active in a Small Group is critical to attaining the “whole measure,” increasing in spiritual maturity — Christ-likeness — as we pray and confess and serve and forgive and apply the Word in ways that just simply are not possible in bigger corporate settings.
The purpose of putting these expectations on our members is not to make or to keep rules. The point is to call each of us to live a focused and disciplined life that consistently reflects God’s glory and more thoroughly transforms us into the image of Christ. Our times together are paramount to, what Paul calls, the transformative process of “being saved.” Our worship assemblies and Bible classes and Small Groups are extremely important, not as much because of what we’re doing there, but much more so because of what our God is doing there.
See you Sunday! And Wednesday!