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“I’m sorry, I won’t be at church this weekend”

Imagine giving your apologies when you won’t be at church.

Is that such a crazy idea?

Church is a family – we all belong to each other. And it matters when family members aren’t there – your absence impacts me, and vice versa.

When I can’t make a family dinner, I let the family know. Shouldn’t it be the same for church?

This is a radical culture shift, isn’t it? Afterall, we live in a culture where people are increasingly unlikely to RSVP to an event they have been invited to.

But perhaps this change in culture would better reflect the nature of what it means for God’s people to gather – that our meetings are more like family dinners than football matches.


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  1. Mark Wing

    June 27, 2013 at 6:26 pm

    I understand where you’re coming from, but I think to seek this cultural shift (as described) somehow does not feel right. This is the way one should feel about a business meeting… surely Church attendance is a bit less formal?

    If, however, a person has a role to play in delivering the service then their approach to attendance will be more engaged. Are you making the point that everyone should recognise that they play a part in the service? If this is so, then maybe the emphasis should be on participation, rather than registers of attendance.

    The real goal is personal, not church, growth. Since participation stimulates personal growth Church attendance will surely grow off the back of a greater sense of playing a part in the proceedings.

    When the family sits down for a meal together I hope each member of the family will have something to share/bring to the conversation, not just devour the food and go.

    …a quick thought to respond to yours… I trust it is helpful.

  2. Calum Henderson

    June 28, 2013 at 8:50 am

    I like your idea Steve. How do you think it would work in practice?

  3. Steven Kryger

    June 28, 2013 at 10:01 am

    Hi Calum, I think it could simply involve calling/emailing the pastor of the church/congregation to let them know you won’t be there. What do you think?

  4. sean_b_wec

    June 28, 2013 at 11:40 am

    Hmmm. I agree that church should be taken seriously – and attending church should be a key part of people’s Christian faith.

    However, I’m not sure I like your idea for a few reasons:

    * There’s an incredibly risk here that someone who isn’t solid in their faith will just stop coming out of guilt because they didn’t RSVP to church – and that is really poor for ‘communicating Jesus’.
    So at what point would you encourage this idea? Once someone has been to
    church once/twice? When they make a confession of faith? When they’re
    baptised? When they become a member? When they turn 18?
    (I wonder if you could ask all church leaders to do this – that might be a starting point: although it might not help with retention of leaders).

    * Grace. It’s pretty central to the gospel, and the church should therefore show it. Whenever the church puts an idea out there, we can lose the love that’s behind it – and then grace fails to abound. If I miss church for 3 weeks because I’m suffering from depression, the church should be loving me and caring for me, not wondering why I didn’t RSVP. Not saying that this is in any way your intention, but I guess I’ve seen good ideas be misused over time.

    * If it’s true that people are not RSVP’ing to other things, is it really the role of the church to force a point that may be dying? The church can only really be counter-cultural in so many ways before it becomes irrelevant and I don’t think that RSVP’ing is a gospel issue (and I think the main areas we should be counter-cultural in are gospel issues)

    There’s my three cents’ worth!

  5. Steven Kryger

    June 28, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    Thanks for your thoughts, Sean.

    I envisage this would be applied only to those who are members – people who have committed themselves to the family at that particular church. If you haven’t committed yourself (i.e. a family member), then you aren’t under any obligation. However, there are obligations to being a family member.

    Let me be clear – this idea isn’t about burdening people or making people feel unreasonably obligated. But it seeks to act as a reminder of the significance of our meeting together, and relationships with one another. These are precious – like a family – and ought to be treated as such.

  6. Steven Kryger

    June 28, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    Thanks Mark, good thoughts.

    I agree – the desire is participation not mere attendance. We want to be developing a culture where everyone sees their ‘active attendance’ as a vital part of the church – and when they are not there, something special is missing.

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