Summary: A challenge to help your congregation realize that they have a responsinbility to get in the game themselves instead of settling for a sideline faith.

Don’t Settle for a Sideline Faith – Get in the Game!

1 John 1:1-9

It is possible to attend church your entire life and still spend eternity in hell.

That’s a shocking statement! I suspect some might disagree with it at first, but it is the truth. It is possible to attend church your entire life and still spend eternity in hell. That’s because there’s a big difference between observation and participation.

Allowing observation to replace participation in the Christian life is a very dangerous thing. As a matter of fact, one of the great concerns I have is for kids growing up in the church, or even adults who have been around the church for a long time, becoming complacent in their walk with Christ because they have gotten used to standing or sitting on the sidelines when it comes to their spiritual life.

I believe satan can cause people to get so comfortable with the surroundings, the terminology and their experiences around the church that they never really make it personal. It is as if they begin to assume that they are a Christian by osmosis.

It can happen when people start going through the motions spiritually speaking. It can happen in the routine of coming to church or Sunday School week after week. You anticipate every detail of the service, because you have learned the ropes. You don’t really get anything out of worship, because it has become a meaningless ritual. It is all about going through the motions and getting your religious checkmark. (Be on guard!)

My concern is that someone could walk in and out of the church with a false assurance or a false confidence that you are made right with Christ because of a religious routine.

Now don’t get me wrong. Church attendance is an important factor in the life of a committed Christian. It is a healthy, biblical habit that is important to all of us.

Hebrews 10:25 NIV

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Lack of involvement in church can become a habit. And we all have a tendency to rationalize and justify our bad habits, don’t we?

I always hate to hear that a new Christian just got a job that will require them to work on Sunday. Too often that can be the beginning of the end for them. I have seen it happen far too many times. It isn’t long before they get out of the habit of being with God’s people. We have many who are affiliated with the church today who fit that kind of profile.

Absence from corporate worship is a dangerous thing. I actually did a study on it. Did you know that you can’t miss your tenth Sunday until you miss your first Sunday…and your second…and your third…etc.

A Christian without consistent involvement in a local church is a disobedient Christian at best. I run onto people all of the time who try to convince me that they are a believer, but they don’t have any active involvement in a local church. Their favorite saying is, “you don’t have to go to church to go to heaven.”

While I agree with the premise, “church attendance is not what gets you to heaven,” I have to tell you that biblically they are in the dark.

We need to understand that the Body of Christ, the church, is God’s idea and it is a good one. And I can’t help but wonder why a committed Christian would not want to be connected to the body of Christ.

A member of a certain church, who previously had been attending services regularly, stopped going. After a few weeks, the pastor decided to visit him. It was a chilly evening. The pastor found the man at home alone, sitting before a blazing fire.

Guessing the reason for his pastor’s visit, the man welcomed him, led him to a comfortable chair near the fireplace and waited. The pastor made himself at home but said nothing.

In the grave silence, he contemplated the dance of the flames around the burning logs. After some minutes, the pastor took the fire tongs, carefully picked up a brightly burning ember and placed it to one side of the hearth all alone. Then he sat back in his chair, still silent.

The host watched all this in quiet contemplation. As the one lone ember’s flame flickered and diminished, there was a momentary glow and then its fire was no more.

Soon it was cold and "dead as a doornail." Not a word had been spoken since the initial greeting. The Pastor glanced at his watch and realized it was time to leave, he slowly stood up, picked up the cold, dead ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire. Immediately it began to glow, once more with the light and warmth of the burning coals around it.

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Johnnie Holloway

commented on Feb 23, 2011

Great sermon, thanks for your insight and your gift of the message. I really enjoyed the illustration....

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