I recently learned a wonderful word, aporia: 1) Rhetoric: The expression of a simulated or real doubt, as about where to begin or what to do or say; 2) Logic, Philosophy: A difficulty encountered in establishing the theoretical truth of a proposition, created by the presence of evidence both for and against it” (definition from dictionary.com).
I am coming closer and closer to concluding that attendance is a kind of aporia. In these past five bulletin articles on attendance, I find myself struggling over where to begin and often what to say conclusively. Additionally, there seems to be both positive and negative evidence concerning the meaning of attendance. I find myself almost saying attendance means everything and attendance means nothing. For instance, at minimum attendance means everything in that it ought to be a reflection of our love, commitment, and support for one another and the church as a whole. On the other hand, the mere act of attendance does not necessarily mean you actually are committed, loving, and supporting one another and the church as a whole.
Part of the struggle in defining the meaning of attendance may be rooted in the fact that attendance is more a reflection (or result) than a cause. In other words, attendance does not necessarily cause one to grow in faithfulness, but rather is more a reflection of your faith. In brief, attendance is a reflection of your faith in terms of choice, time, and value. We often make the choice of what to attend or not attend based on how we want to spend our time according to what we value. In short, an implicit question being answered by our attendance or lack of it, is what we think is worthwhile to spend our time upon. For example, do you think there is value in making the choice to spend your time attending Bible class, worship, and fellowships? Your answer will greatly depend on the value you see and reap from these kinds of participation.
Over the years as a minister, I have heard people say, “I do not attend Sunday morning Bible class because it is boring.” I know, you are thinking, “No way would anyone say that about one of Terry’s classes” J. Now whether we find this claim of boredom sad, but true, many often do not find personal value when it comes to attending a Bible class, or even a worship service, and therefore do not see the value in making the choice to spend their time in attendance.
Let us be honest. Some classes and indeed some worship services are indeed boring. Classes and worship may be boring because teachers, preachers, and worship leaders are boring. They may be boring because perhaps they do not prepare or study well enough to give well enough. On the other hand, some attendees are themselves boring. They are boring perhaps because they do not care to truly listen, seek understanding, or choose to participate in discussion. The truth for all is, you often get out what you put in.
In conclusion, the questions I would like you to ponder are the following: What does your choice of attendance or lack of attendance say about what you value to spend your time upon? How did you arrive at this value and is it truly what the Lord would have you value? You just may discover in your own thinking how much attendance truly is an aporia.