“Why don’t people join tramping clubs?

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This pastoral passage was written for LRBC for June 5th 2022

“Why don’t people join tramping clubs?”

It was a question posted recently on the NZ Tramping Page on Facebook. The answers were illuminating. People responded by pointing out issues of convenience (I’ll go when I want on the track that suits me), sociability (I don’t want to spend time with people I don’t know and possibly won’t like), ability (They’ll leave me behind or be held back by me because I’m slow).

Other people flipped the question on its head and put it back to the questioner: “Why should people join tramping clubs?” It was easy to see their logic. After all, when I want to hike I simply find some friends or family, pick a day, choose a track, get my boots on and get going. A tramping club might be nice but hardly necessary. It really is an optional extra.

The parallels to church are easy to see. Plenty of people profess some kind of Christian faith but don’t attend a Christian fellowship. People like to keep their options on time open and have plenty else to do, even with professed Christian faith. It might be that they don’t like to meet new people or that they think little of the kind of people who bother to go to church. They might feel inferior or superior to them too. All these things can disincentivise being part of a church community.

But when the question is asked, “Why should professing Christians join and attend a church?”, there are a few responses that could be made.

Good church fellowship is a means of accountability that our profession matches our living.

It is a team that works together to glorify God and evangelise the world.

It helps us to develop and grow and refine our faith.

We can help other believers and especially younger believers in their faith and nurture them as they grow – I’ve benefited from this myself and appreciate what my young children have had from the youth at our church.

These things don’t happen if we isolate ourselves in our faith.

Following Jesus was made to be communal. We can’t “love one another” (John 13:34) if we don’t see one another. Nor can we put up with each other, forgive one another, maintain peace, express unity, teach and warn each other, or lift our voices in song together (Col 3:13-16) if we stay home or only meet with a select group of easy Christians who are our natural friends.

So why join in on church gatherings? Because that’s part of how we follow Jesus.