On not going to church

Here’s an excerpt from a sermon preached in July 1927 by Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and quoted in a sermon by Pastor Mark Dever:

“People complain about the dwindling congregations and how the churches are going down. Why are people ceasing to attend places of worship? Why is it that last Sunday night I noticed that while the places of worship in Cardiff were only sparsely attended, the trains coming from seaside places were packed out? Why did these people spend their day at the seaside and other in places, rather than in the house of God, worshipping?

“Well, the answer is perfectly plain: they obviously prefer to be at the seaside, and feel that they get more benefit there than in their chapels or churches.  Now, it’s no use our arguing with people like that, it’s no use our telling them that they really do not get greater benefit there, because they honestly believe they do.

“What I feel like saying to these people is this: If you honestly believe—and remember it is your responsibility—that you derive greater benefit by spending your day in the country than you do by attending a place of worship, well then, go to the country! Don’t come here if you honestly feel that you could do better elsewhere. Unless you feel that something is being offered  and given to you here which no other institution can offer or equal, well then, in the name of heaven go out into the country—or to the seaside!

“The church of Christ is a church of believers, an association of people banded together by a common belief and a common love. If you don’t believe, well above all do not pretend that you do—go to the country and the seaside! All I ask of you is be consistent. When someone dies in your family, do not come to ask the church in which you do not believe to come to bury him; go to the seaside for consolation!”

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