The Faithfulness Resolution

When you backed out of your driveway this morning? Did you think through each step? Did you think about it at all?

Think about all of the steps: * Open the door. * Swing your leg up into the car. * Pull yourself into the car. * Close the door. * Find your keys in your purse (or pocket.) * Find the car key on the key ring. * Insert the key, the right way, into the ignition. * Place your foot on the brake. * Turn the ignition. * Put the car in reverse. * Check your rear view mirror for things behind you. * Take your foot off of the brake and put it on the gas. * Skillfully navigate your driveway in reverse. * Take your foot off of the gas and put it on the brake. * Find the gear shifter with your right hand. * Switch from reverse to drive. * Put your foot on the gas.

Did you think about each step? I mean that’s a pretty complicated task. Remember the first time you were learning to do it? Remember how nervous you were when you were learning to drive and had to do all that. So did you think through each task this morning?

Probably not. That’s because habit took over.

Let me ask you another question: On your way to church this morning, were you thinking about the road, or was your mind on something else? Were you thinking about church or lunch or work or your afternoon plans?

Probably, right? Why didn’t you crash?

Because our brains have the abilities to take complex tasks and turn do them in auto-pilot. Our brains can handle habits.

So much of our life is habit. My girls are learning to type. It’s so funny watching them have to think about where the “l” key is. I type like 70 words a minute all the time and I never think about where the keys are. If you know how to type, that is stored in habit and you just type.

Similarly, you don’t think about brushing your teeth when you wake up in the morning or how to tie your shoes. You just do it.

Our habits are like little code blocks that our brain just reruns so it doesn’t have to write out the whole thing.

Habit is such a powerful thing.

Today is new years day. Traditionally, around this time of year, people are making out their new years resolutions. Your resolution may be to lose weight, to exercise, to read more, or to get out of debt. Maybe your resolution is to take up a hobby. Maybe it’s to quit smoking. Maybe it’s to read the Bible more.

I’ve made several new years resolutions this year: * I’m going to get my personal scheduling under control. * I’m going to turn my website business into a non-profit that creates free to use software for churches. * I’m going to go back to reading two or more books a month. * I’m going to run a half-ironman triathlon. * I’m going to start making time to go on a date with my wife at least twice a month.


I hope you have resolutions. I hope you are setting goals. He who aims at nothing always hits his mark. I hope you are striving towards something and trying.

If you noticed, almost all of my resolutions are going to require new habits. 90% of the time, that’s what resolutions are, they are the decision to try to make new habits.

Over the next four weeks, I’m going to be preaching a little mini-series called “resolutions: four habits to add for stronger Christian living.” Each week, I’m going to be introducing a new resolution, a new habit I think you should work on in 2017, and I’m going to go to the Bible to make my case for why.

Today, I want to give you the first resolution. I’m calling it “the faithfulness resolution.” It’s really simple: resolve to be faithful to church and Sunday School.

I think church attendance and yes, Sunday School attendance, should be a habit. It shouldn’t require a decision. It shouldn’t be an option. It should just be something that you and I do as Christians almost automatically.

I think it should be a priority. I think it should be your default.

Now, for some of us, this is easy. My stepfather got saved when I was about Audrey’s age. For nearly 30 years, I can count the number of times I didn’t go to church on Sunday on one hand. I’ve been sick a couple of times. I’ve been snowed in a couple of times. But for the most part, we have always been in church on Sunday. If we were home or are home, we are their for Sunday School and Sunday Night church too.

Now, there have been times when that was difficult. I spent most weekends as a teenager at my dad’s house who is not a christian. He didn’t take me to church and didn’t encourage me to go. I had to fight him a little on that. I had to fight when I got a new job to make sure they didn’t schedule me on Sunday Morning. There have been various times in our life when we had to travel a half-hour to get to church.

And, honestly, there have been strong temptations to do other things. I said one of my resolutions this year is to do a half-ironman. Almost all of those are on Sunday. I get invited to run races with my friends all the time that are on Sunday.

Listen, I feel like I’m boasting. But this isn’t boasting. I mean, this is so elementary. So basic. It would be like saying “I haven’t had a potty accident in 30 years” is boasting. It’s that basic. It should be that automatic.

But it isn’t automatic. Only about 18% of the U.S. population regularly attends church. Only about 50% of those who are members of Bible preaching churches attend every week. A lot of people claim to be Christians but aren’t making church attendance a priority.

So I’m going to ask you - the people in this room this morning - to make this a priority. I’m going to ask you to make attending church something you do almost automatically. Make it a habit.

I’m also going to ask you to try to join a Sunday School class and be faithful to it. A Sunday school class will connect you with a smaller group in the church, give you another avenue to get involved, expose you to more teaching, and help you stay accountable. It is NOT a second service. It’s much more casual and it’s different. You already have to wake up to get here - how much harder would it be to come an hour earlier?

So that’s my plea this morning: Make coming to church and coming to Sunday school a habit. Make it automatic. The faithfulness resolution means be faithful to church.

Now, why? What biblical basis do I have to ask you to do this? Let me give you five reasons why I think you should make it a habit to attend church:

The first reason is:

  1. Habitual, prioritized church attendance helps establish right priorities in your life. Take your Bibles and turn with me to Romans chapter 12. Romans 12. Let’s look at verse 1:

”I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”

This verse tells us that God wants us to give ourselves as a living sacrifice to Him. He wants all of us. He wants to be first place in our lives.

Then it says “which is your reasonable service.”

If God really exists. If God really gave His only begotten son to die for us and if He has really made us a part of His family, If He has really bought us back out of the slavery of sin. Then listen, anything God asks of us is a reasonable service.

If someone sacrificed himself to save your life tomorrow, you would likely go to him and say “Anything I can do to repay you - please let me know.” That’s reasonable.

Ok. Listen, if we can’t make church attendance a priority - what does that say about where our priorities in life are?

Make no mistake about it - God expects his children. His people. The redeemed. He expects them to gather together at least once a week for church. Over and over and over in the New Testament we see this.

You see this in Romans 12. Skim down to verses 4-5. Look at verse 5:

”So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.”

Paul moves seamlessly from talking about our reasonable service to God to the way we view our church family and the ministry that we have to our church family.

Whatever your reasonable service is - it includes church attendance at the very minimum!

You might say “I don’t have time.” That’s not a statement of time - its a statement of priorities. We make time for what is important to us.

The average American makes time to watch 4 hours and 51 minutes of TV every day. They make time for a total of more than 10 hours a day of screen time.

I don’t know where you fall on that average - but if you have time to watch, say 2 hours a day of TV - that’s way below average - but it’s still 14 hours a week. If you have time to watch 14 hours a week of tv but you don’t have two hours a week to spend in church - what does that say about your priorities.

Habitual, prioritized church attendance helps establish right priorities in your life.

The second reason why you should resolve to attend church faithfully is...

  1. Habitual, prioritized church attendance is a terrific testimony to those who are watching your life. Colossians 4:5-6 says:

”5 Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. 6 Let your speech [be] alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”

That phrase, or some form of it, “them that are without” is found several times in the New Testament. The idea it carries is this: the lost world is watching you. Here in this passage it hints that they are watching how we use our time.

Church, one of the best testimonies you can have in this lost world is to be someone who prioritizes regular church attendance. I promise you, if you make church attendance a priority - you will stand out.

You’ll stand out on the ball teams when they want to schedule games on Sunday. You’ll stand out with your girlfriends who want to do brunch on Sunday morning. You’ll stand out at work when everyone is having their “what did you do Sunday” conversation. You’ll stand out when your lost loved ones schedule family get-togethers on Sunday morning at noon. If you resolve to faithfully attend church, you are going to stand out. And do you know what? That’s a good thing.

There are some people who use Christianity as an excuse to be a straight up weirdo. They love that “peculiar people” passage a little too much. But there is a good way to be a weirdo. If you have your priorities right in this lost world, you are going to be a bit of a weirdo.

Listen folks - they might not seem like it - but they ARE watching. They do notice when you get your family up every Sunday and take them to church. They do notice when that seems like a priority. It does help give you a testimony.

Look at a third reason to resolve to church attendance with me:

  1. Habitual, prioritized church attendance will enable growth through the food of the word of God. 1 Peter 5:2 says to pastors:

”Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;”

2 Timothy 4:2 says to pastors:

”Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.”

Ephesians 4:11-13 says:

”[Eph 4:11-13 KJV] 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:”

God has a plan for Christian growth, and that plan requires church attendance. It requires you to get under the sound of preaching and to do so regularly.

It’s interesting that there aren’t a lot of scriptures that directly mention church attendance. There is one in the book of Hebrews we’ll get to in a minute. But that is about it. Do you know why there aren’t a lot of verses about this?

Because it’s assumed. Every letter of Paul was to a church. In order for that letter to be read, the church had to be together. Diddo with the gospels. Diddo with the other letters. They all assume church attendance.

The plan of God is to grow his church through the preaching and teaching of the word. That assumes and requires church attendance.

The pastors job is to feed you. They can’t do that if you don’t show up regularly for meals.

Also, listen, the whole analogy of meals makes this out to be something that you need on a regular basis. You don’t eat once a month. I eat every day. Several times a day. I need to or I can’t function. Maybe if you are spiritually anemic, you need to show up to meal time more.

Two more:

  1. Habitual, prioritized church attendance will allow you to get involved and minister - which is God’s plan for every Christian. One of our mottos here at Bible Baptist is “every member a minister.” We just read Ephesians 4:11-14. I want to read that again:

”[Eph 4:11-13 KJV] 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:”

There are two ways to read verse 12. You can read it “God gave all these professionals for the perfecting of the saints and the work of the ministry.” In other words, it’s the pastors job to do the work of the ministry.

But that actually isn’t the way most commentators read this passage. Most people see it to mean “God gave all these professionals for the perfecting of the saints for the work of the ministry.”

In other words, it’s not the pastors job to do the work of the ministry. It’s the pastors job to prepare the people to do the work of the ministry.

Everybody in the new testament church is supposed to have a ministry. Everybody is supposed to have a job. The Bible uses the term “members” often. That isn’t members like being a member at Sam’s club. The word “member” in the King James means body part. Literally, you are a body part in the local church. Think about your body, every part has a job and they are all necessary.

If you are saved. IF God wants you in a church. You are a necessary body part of that church and you should have some kind of ministry there. It’s very hard to be a ministering body part if you aren’t there faithfully.

Let me give you one more reason and we’ll quit:

I’m going to close by looking at the most popular and famous verse on this topic in the whole Bible. To my knowledge, it’s the only verse that DIRECTLY addresses this topic. Turn with me to Hebrews 10. The verse everyone knows is verse 25. But we are going to start in verse 23:

”23 Let us hold fast the profession of [our] faith without wavering; (for he [is] faithful that promised;) 24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some [is]; but exhorting [one another]: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”

These verses are speaking directly about church attendance. ”not forsaking the assembling of yourself together.” That’s about church attendance. But I want you to notice the REASON why we are not to forsake church attendance. Notice the last half of verse 25:

”But exhorting one another.”

Then look up to verse 24, the phrase right before the famous “not forsaking the assembling” verse:

”And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works.”

Here is the last reason why I think you should make faithful church attendance a resolution in 2017.

  1. Habitual, prioritized church attendance enables you to build relationships with other Christians so you can do your part to encourage your church family. If you are a child of God - you aren’t an only child. We live in such an individualistic culture - but the Bible is not an individualistic book. So much of it is directed to groups, so much of it is about belonging to a group. So many of our responsibilities as Christians are responsibilities to a group.

You are supposed to be exhorting your fellow Christians. That word “exhort” means to call to ones side, to beseech, to comfort, to pray, to challenge. Have you ever had some one pull you aside and say “I know you are struggling with this - let me challenge you to.” or “let me pray about that with you.” or “Is there anything I can help you with.” We are supposed to be doing that.

Do you know why we sing songs in church? Part of it is worship to God, but that’s not all of it. One of the reasons we are commanded to sing is because we are teaching and admonishing one another in Psalms and hymns and spiritual psalms. When you sing out in congregational singing - it’s like you are preaching a sermon to the other people on the pew. That’s a biblical responsibility we have to one another.

I could go on and on about this. But let me just give you some homework: search the New Testament for passages that talk about “one another” or “to another.” There are dozens of them.

You can’t obey those “one another” commands if you are not with one another and the best way to be with one another is to be in church faithfully.

So I want to challenge you this morning: make church attendance a habit. Make it automatic. Make it a priority.

I hope you don’t feel like I’m beating you up this morning. That’s not my intention. I just know from experience how valuable and essential this habit is and I’m pleading to you: make it a priority. Make it a resolution:

It will help you keep your priorities right. It will help keep your testimony strong. It will help you to grow. It will enable you to minister. It will give you opportunities to fulfill the “one another” passages in the New Testament.