As a former teacher, I despised planning for my days off, putting together lesson plans for a substitute. While this replacement for a class, day or week tries their best to follow the material provided, students will do all they can to battle for a movie day or study hall. When I returned back to the classroom, I was usually disappointed by the lack of progress that was made. Although there are several excellent full time subs, some individuals are impossible to replace.
And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed, Acts 14:23.
As an adult, I struggle to focus when I attend a church service and the senior pastor is off or out of town. Maybe once or twice the guest speaker is just as good, but usually there is a big drop off. When worship leaders are absent or the A team is away playing for another service, there is usually a noticeable difference. Whenever superior talent is replaced by an alternate or reserve, these fill ins are put into a no win situation. If surprisingly good, regulars might feel threatened. When someone fails miserably, you will likely lose this volunteer, to avoid future embarrassment.
But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone, Hebrews 2:9.
These illustrations prove that no substitute will do for certain scenarios. For example, attending church from an off campus sight or virtually on an electronic device is a growing trend. When pastors or worship teams aren’t available, newly planted churches can participate by watching from a large screen. If you are not careful, it’s easy to withdraw, staying home to listen to sermons and worship. I must confess that I have fallen prey to this trap. I rationalize my actions by listening to two to three sermons each Sunday. Yet, when it comes to being part of a local congregation, no substitute will do. God designed the body of Christ around imitate relationships. Thus. getting involved means going to church, fellowshipping with others and making yourself vulnerable to God.
by Jay Mankus