I’m thankful for church members who don’t go “Absent WithOut a Message” (AWOM). In our church, as it is still small, we’ve tried to cultivate a culture of accountability where members message (email or text) the church or pastor when they won’t be making it to our Sunday gathering. Here are 5 reasons why CrossViewers should never go AWOM.
First, this decreases the disconnect from not seeing a member for 13 days. If you miss a Sunday and you only see another member on Sundays, to miss two weeks is to go 13 days without seeing them and 20 days if they miss two consecutive Sundays. That’s a lot of life, experiences, trials, and things to share. When a member misses two or three consecutive Sundays they can feel disconnected from the church, and so messaging the church regarding where God is sending you this coming Sunday and how the church can pray for you keeps you connected and sharing life with the body.
Second, this encourages the pastors. Now for better or worse, some pastors (like me), get discouraged when members don’t come to a Sunday gathering. We have our own issues to work through with pride and misplaced encouragement. My point here is that when members are aware of their pastor’s care and responsibility for them, their message helps pastors to know that they are aware of God’s leading in their Sunday absence. It also helps pastors to know how best to shepherd them. Maybe they don’t have a good reason for being absent and need guidance on how to better think about it. Even when it is a good reason for absence, the pastors can now be more aware of intentionally encouraging the member since they missed the stirring up to love and good works from the Sunday gathering (Hebrews 10:24-25).
Third, this encourages other members. It is an act of love to open yourself to the church members to be known by them. It helps them to hold you accountable. It reminds them that we are connected to each other. Our church covenant is more than words. We actually mean and want to live according to the promise, “We will not forsake the assembling of ourselves together” taken from Hebrews 10:25.
Fourth, it serves as an example to younger and less mature members about staying connected to their church family. Many new members (and some old ones) don’t understand the nature of being committed to a church body as a family. When they read a message from one of the members whom God sent elsewhere, it serves as a model to imitate.
Fifth, messaging the church helps members assess whether it was a good reason to miss the gathering. Was God really wanting you to miss the Sunday gathering to go to where you went? Maybe. Maybe not. Messaging the church and telling them where you think God is sending you this Sunday, why you think he’s sending you there, and how other members can pray for you requires thought and sensitivity to God’s leading. This helps discourage silly or illegitimate absences. It also strengthens gospel intentionality and a spirit of worshipping God as you go elsewhere.
So message the church when you think God is sending you elsewhere, why he’s sending you, where he’s sending you, and how we can pray for you.
(This is a cross-post also on the CrossView Church LA Blog)