When Christians sleep in on Sunday morning

A few years ago I was driving on the highway in Toronto and saw a billboard.  It was advertising a Sunday morning radio show and trying to get people to tune in.  The picture had a person sleeping beside an alarm clock and the caption said, “What else are you doing on Sunday morning?”  I felt like yelling out the window, “In church praising God!”

The billboard is almost understandable for those immersed in God-neglect.  But what about Christians?  For those who have given their lives to Jesus?

The question came back to me this week as I pondered the fact that in the four plus years I’ve been the minister at Westminster, not once has everyone in the congregation been at worship at the same time praising God.  Now I understand that some can’t physically get there.  I’m not thinking of those folks.  I also know that some people work shift work and that “quiet Sundays” are not what they used to be.  But I think it raises a different question–for many of us–as to whether God is actually God to us.  Here are some of my thoughts about how that relates to worship:

Worship is it. Sunday morning. Resurrection day. For one, God is jealous for us and wants us to worship him.  (Jesus says it like this: “Worship the Lord your God and serve only him.”)  If we think that God is really Lord Almighty, how easily do we shirk that command to worship him? (BTW, the more Sundays we miss the easier the trend is to continue!  The more we’re there, the more meaningful it all is.)  If we don’t worship, we end up worshipping anything.

In the Christian life, worship is our heartbeat. It helps keep us in sync with the Creator and Redeemer of life.  Without it, our pulse weakens. We don’t do it because it makes us feel good or we like the style (although those things are nice sometimes); but because God is worthy. When people complain about a worship “style” it often baffles me.  Yes, we need to ensure we are connecting with a variety of age groups; however, I think that argument is often a place to hide from the more pressing question of whether we actually go to church to praise the God who is worthy and whose Son died for us, or if we are just going to get a fill up at the local spiritual gas station.

I wonder also if our struggle with worship on Sunday morning is because we live in a busy me-first culture and the Lord is increasingly peripheral to our lives in a growing anti-faith culture.  Is that true?  Maybe.  I hope not.  Mostly I think it’s because many of us have taken that fact that Jesus died for us personally for granted. If someone died for you so that you could live, wouldn’t you go to a service honouring them?

I would. And that’s why I worship on Sunday morning. And when I’m there, it’s amazing how we end up caring for each other, and teaching each other, and rejoicing with each other, and challenging each other, and enriching each other.  Hmmm, I guess that’s a part of why worship is our pulse: God shows up and reminds us that he is still alive and we are within him.  And despite our brokeness and often lame attempts to praise him with all we are, we discover that we are alive too.


  1. Great post and great blog, Matthew. Sometimes I wonder if our obsession with the culture of sports fandom affects our connectedness to Sunday worship. Our society seems to value sports above almost everything else. That whole notion of being whipped into a frenzy of passion cheering for your team doesn’t translate well into a church that seeks to further the Kingdom of God through active local mission. I wonder sometimes if that is the reason that charismatic churches are full on Sundays – there is an element of fan frenzy inherent to that style of worship – not that I am in way criticizing those denominations. Some churches even have coffee shops and encourage their members to munch on a muffin while listening to the sermon – very sports-like…

    Sometimes it seems that the quiet, reverential style of worship that is focused upward instead of inward has fallen out of fashion. There’s a book called “Not a Fan” that I haven’t read yet, but that sounds very interesting. I wonder what strategies we could employ to expand our complement of Sunday morning worshippers using the “not a fan”. I would also be very interested in engaging some of our seniors in discussing such a strategy.

    That’s it for my ramblings…


    1. Hi Cathy, thanks for the comment. I certainly agree that we are in an entertainment culture. As someone said to me recently, today’s generation is “efficiently entertained.” And when you think of the fan frenzy type of thing that happens at big sports event what is it about? Cheering for a team? Or more? Is it part wanting to be a winner (against the deep dark fear we have within that we are losers), or to just plain escape? The “not a fan” book perhaps takes a look at some of that stuff.

      I friend in a church in Bradford realized that there were many churches trying “new” things in worship. So they pitched themselves as the “alternative to alterative worship.” Apparently, it’s working! But they also do it very well.

      Thanks for sharing!


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