On Monday I always think about who attended Sunday's services and who didn't. I guess it is a shepherd thing. When sheep show up or don't show up at feeding time the shepherd wonders about it. It is not about keeping score... but about caring for the health and safety of the sheep.
Some new sheep unexpectedly appeared. Where did they come from? What are they here for? What should I do about them? How can I meet their needs?
Other sheep were missing! Where were they? Do I need to go after them? Are they physically or spiritually sick? Have they been attacked by wolves? How can I meet their needs?
People attend church in predictable patterns that are certainly related to their perspective on and their commitment to the ministry. Some people attend every service. It is a surprise when they are missing (though they usually warn you in advance.) Other people attend just one service a week - and for some that one service is in jeopardy if there is any plausible excuse.
Guess whose spiritual health the pastor worries about.
There are people to whom one hour a week is more of a burden than a blessing. There are people who consider church attendance to be like a necessary dose of an unpleasant medicine. They go, when they go, because they think they should - but not because they want too.
I think that is so sad! Here are people who have not discovered the rapturous joy that is only found in Jesus Christ - our Lord and Savior! For them Jesus cannot compete with the pleasures of sleeping in or a football game or a ride in the country or reading a novel or watching T.V. or even vacuuming the house.
Do they really know Jesus at all? How can they know Him - really know Him - and be content to live away from the gathering of the redeemed where Jesus is exalted in praise and testimony and where His word is preached and taught so that we can be further set apart to Him? How can they stand to live on such a thin soup when there is a rich and varied banquet provided?
I suppose that when anyone is "off his feed," he is sick. And so I fret. What can I do? I can pray. I can preach. I can call. I can confront. But I cannot change a person's heart.
Ah, Lord! Change people's hearts! Let them have no other gods but you - not only in their theology, but also in their affections.
(Deuteronomy 6:4-5) ¶ “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.