September is almost here bringing with it the telltale signs that school is back in session. Summer is over, the last BLT sandwich has been eaten, traffic is building, and the pools are about to close. For many parents, it will come as a sigh of relief from having to entertain bored kids, navigate camp schedules, and prepare never-ending snacks and lunches. A quieter house awaits. For the young mothers, it may come with watery eyes watching yesterday’s toddler now with pigtails or big boy britches walk through the school door headed to their first-grade classroom. The anticipation from the joys and challenges of each day will prompt discussion on the drive home or around the family dinner table. For the older parents with college-aged teenagers and young adults, muscles and lower backs tighten with the expectation of packing the car and moving boxes into apartments and dorm rooms. Yes, school kicks off another year of projects, papers, reading, and homework.
As I wander about the grocery store and retail businesses, Back to School deals and supply lists can be seen to entice buyers. Newspapers and magazines promote ads and solicitations. While reading the Christian School Guide special feature in our local magazine, I thought to myself, “Too bad we don’t have a Back to Church blitz to get people revved up about going to church.” With this in mind, the words of the Christian School Guide took on a deeper meaning. I began to envision a Back to Church Guide. With a few word insertions, deletions, and substitutions here and there, the promotional Back to Church Guide could read something like this:
“Community Church provides a wholesome, Christian environment with well-disciplined classrooms. We focus on spiritual, social, and theological development. Attention to the servant’s heart is incorporated into the lesson plan. Our goal is to teach young, middle-aged, and maturing minds Biblical principles in order to enable them to discover (or rediscover) God’s love and purpose in their lives. The purpose of Community Church centers on providing a well-balanced and well-rounded quality Christian education for the entire family. An integral part of our aim is an emphasis on the acquisition and cultivation of spiritual values; those values through which God works in man to lift the human condition through compassion, sacrifice, and endurance.
“Community Church is a place of transformation, inspiration, and growth. The desire of Community Church is to equip a generation of inspired, transformed, and mission-minded members. Each person is uniquely gifted and created in the image of God. We provide a challenging curriculum with a dedicated faculty. Only one primary textbook is required which can be found in most pew racks next to the congregational songbook in the event if one is not brought from home.
“Our teachers are highly qualified and committed volunteers who study tirelessly preparing life- and spiritually-enriching lessons within a nurturing and supportive environment. Class sizes are small to foster greater interaction and individualized attention. Questions and discussion are strongly encouraged.
“Teachers are provided ongoing continuing education throughout the year with special speakers and local and regional events. Members are also provided with numerous opportunities for extracurricular activities in addition to continuing education. Activities may include but are not limited to: choirs for all ages, orchestra, drama, knitting, games/cards for seniors, mission trips (locally, regionally, and internationally), fellowship meals, church cookouts, field trips, book studies, prayer meetings, conferences, retreats, and community outreach events. A School of Fine Arts is available for those who wish to explore or expand their musical talents. There’s something for everyone at Community Church. The opportunity to experience something more; to do something bigger; to become someone better. Come Back to Church and see what awaits you and your family!”
Wow! Are you inspired? Does the promotion make you want to see what’s in store? Oh, I forgot to mention one more thing. It’s free. Doesn’t that four-letter word conjure up a sense of joy in your heart? That means no tuition or expensive supply lists to fill. You don’t even have to bring your own writing utensils, paper towels, Kleenex, or toilet paper! Oh yeah, uniforms are not required either. In fact, there’s no written dress code that has to be followed.
If it’s free, it’s for me! That’s right. It IS for you, and you, and you, and you. It’s for every single one of us. We should get just as excited about going to church as we do about going back to school. Going to church is not mandatory like school but churchgoing can serve as a segue to the greatest lesson for all mankind: the gift of salvation. It’s free, too. Knowledge, good music, corporate worship, fellowship, fried chicken, ice cream, Vacation Bible School, friendship, support, and singing come along with the Back to Church package. Be honest. You have the discipline to get up and get ready for school, don’t you? Then have the discipline to do the same for church. Hi, ho, hi, ho, it’s Back to Church we go.