"At my church, we take the idea of presence very seriously. In fact, we ask people to write down the number of Sundays they'll attend worship services in the coming year. Now, we don't take roll to see who's there or not, but we don't need to. We've found that when people commit to be here, they follow through with what they said they'd do, no matter what. They know that when they're not at the service, there's no telling what they'll miss, what they would have been able to teach somebody, what they would have learned, how somebody might have encouraged them, or how they might have helped someone else. I'll give you an example.
"A dozen or so years ago, a huge ice storm came through our city. It arrived on Friday, and it was looking pretty bad. Most churches in town announced that they wouldn't have services that weekend, because we were all supposed to be iced in for the next several days. At my church, however, we decided not to make that announcement. We decided we'd have church, and if people wanted to come, they'd come. We figured we'd rather take a chance just in case the weather wasn't too severe.
"I arrived at church around six thirty that Sunday morning. Ice was everywhere, but I wasn't there alone. One of the first people I saw was an elderly member. I said, "Miss Lucille, I didn't expect to see you here today."
"Do you know what she replied? "Why?"
"I responded, "Well, it's so icy, and you have to have somebody to drive you, so I thought you'd decide not to come today."
"Boy, did she teach this preacher a lesson. She said, "John Ed, I didn't decide this morning to come today. If I had waited until this morning to decide, I wouldn't have come. It's too cold. But, you see, I decided last November when I turned in my commitment card that I'd be here forty-eight Sundays. I know what four I'm going to be out of town, and this isn't one of them. I decided last November that I'd be here this Sunday in February."
"She already knew what so many people eventually find out: If you wait until Sunday morning to decide whether or not you'll go to church, you'll most likely never get there. It'll probably be pretty easy to find an excuse not to go. If you make a commitment that you're part of the family and you're not going to miss an opportunity to take part in whatever happens, however, you'll end up with a much better track record. You - and your church - will be all the better for it."
--John Ed Mathison, from "Treasures of the Transformed Life"
If somebody asked me how many Sundays I'd be at church in the next year, what would I say?
What am I likely to miss when I'm not at church?