Aging Christians Have Alternatives Regarding Church Attendance
Just the facts
A great injustice has been done for close to 2000 years regarding the body of Christ. During this time frame, Christians have been taught that they must ”go to church.” This is because around 323 AD the emperor Constantine set up the first organized buildings for church services. This was done for political reasons and not a command from God. Quite the contrary. The Bible tells the New Testament believers that His Holy Spirit lives inside of them. They are the temple and not buildings. The first believers in Christ met in homes and did not have any type of religious services. There are benefits to belonging to a church but the main thing for Christians is to be a part of Christ's household of faith (Galatians 10:25) and to have their names written in His book of life. (Revelation 21:27)
I Corinthians 3:16 asks? Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
Acts 7:48 King James Bible
Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet,
King James Bible
God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands.
Many preachers teach, based on Hebrews 10:25 that God has commanded that believers assemble together in church buildings, The scripture, however, reads: "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".
At the time the Apostle Paul wrote this he was addressing the Hebrew believers of that day and there were no organized churches. Therefore he could not have been referring to the structures where modern-day Christians hold services. There are also theologians who say Paul was not talking about gathering together but referring to not forsaking the belief in Christ's second coming when all saints will be gathered. There is nothing wrong with attending church services, but if you tell someone they have to "got to church" you are in error based on scripture. I understand that this has been taught and many of us believed all our lives but scripture itself indicates that it is not accurate. These are the facts based on the Bible and aging Christ-followers need to know this. Now that the coronavirus has altered our lifestyles, this is more necessary than ever.
Don't make older saints feel bad
As people age, there are different things that can impede their church attendance. Being a shut-in, living in a nursing home, confined to a hospital, loss of mobility or the loss of transportation can all have a lasting effect. These older churchgoers are probably feeling bad all on their own because they have been used to attending services on a regular basis. It's wrong to make them feel worse by telling them they must find a way to get to church. Thank God for family and friends who assist older Christians who do desire and get them to church. Praise the Lord for churches that have vans and buses. Not everyone, however, can step up on a van or bus, and some may not be able to ride comfortably in a vehicle or sit long periods in uncomfortable pews or seats.
If older Christians want to attend weekly services then, by all means, help them get there. For those who simply cannot attend, they first need to understand that it is not a requirement from heaven and learn to deal with the situation they are in. Once they get over that feeling that they are not pleasing the Lord because they cannot "go to church" they will enjoy other options.
Options for those who cannot get to church
Many churches have pastor, deacons and or deaconess who visit the shut in and take them communion. My grandmother attended the same church all of her life and was very active. After my mother died in 2003, grandma's health began to decline and she stopped going to church. For whatever reason, her pastor did not visit her and bring communion as he did other homebound members, but the church clerk, who was our cousin looked out for my grandma. Whenever the church had a gathering where food was served, this cousin brought some to my grandma. She brought her flowers and balloons on Mother's Day and a large box of food at Christmas. Whatever other seniors got from the church, so did my grandma.
Other church members called her on a regular basis and kept her up on what was going on. A young man who graduated high school with me was a pastor in a neighboring county, but he and one of his deacons visited my grandmother several times before she passed away. She enjoyed watching The Gaither singers on television several times a week and she read her own Bible. My family members prayed with her and talked about what was going on in our own church. Instead of trying to figure out how to get an immobile senior to the building, go visit them and fulfill what Christ said about looking gout for the least of these.
If someone is hospitalized or in a long term care facility, there may be a chapel or day room where you can wheel them in a wheelchair and actually have a service with other believers. You can sing, pray, read the word, and if there is no preacher, any believer can give encouraging words about Jesus. Talk to these aging Christians about the importance of letting their light shine right where they are. Even though my grandma could not get out and could no longer help around the house, she could watch the grandchildren and later her first great grandchild. She kept up with current events on the TV and even used Myspace We made sure to tell her that she was appreciated and not a burden. She gave me money to purchase Christmas gifts when she became unable to shop herself. Aging seniors can talk about the Lord and live out their faith without being in a building. Somehow Christians believe that joining boards and ministries in the church is what really matters but living for Christ should be every day wherever you are.
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© 2019 Cheryl E Preston