I came across an interesting expression recently: the twicer.1 From what I understand, ‘the twicer’ used to refer to the person who went to church twice a day (think of the days of morning and evening prayer). It then began to refer to the nominal churchgoer who would attend twice a year, the ‘Christmas and Easter’ Christian. When I heard the phrase recently, it was used to refer to the committed churchgoer. That is, to describe a regular churchgoer—who attends church just twice a month on average.
When I reflected on some of the churches I have been a part of, I found the expression to be fairly accurate. Many of us are irregular regulars: we’re ‘twicers’. I hope you’ll agree with me that this is rather saddening! Here are three biblical truths to help us break the twicer habit.2 3
Hebrews tells us that God’s people “have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem… and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant” (Heb 12:22-24). This is the current reality for those who confess Jesus as Lord and Saviour and are in Christ: because we are united to Christ we are gathered together around God’s throne in the heavenly church (cf. Eph 2:6; Col 3:1-4). When we gather in our local churches we express that heavenly reality in the present. This is part of why we are saved! God saves a people to gather together around him. When we meet together each week we live out that purpose.
One thing that I think we have lost is seeing our church as a family. A family that doesn’t meet together or relate with each other regularly is not a fully functioning family! When someone puts their faith in Christ, they don’t become an acquaintance or a colleague. They become a brother or sister in Christ. Jesus himself says:
Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?... Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother. (Matt 12:48-50; cf. Heb 2:11)
To be in Christ is to be adopted into God’s family. When we meet together we are meeting together as members of a family who love each other.
Going back to Hebrews, the writer says “let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Heb 10:24-25). The reality is that we are not home yet. We still live in a broken and sinful world. Therefore Christian life is one of enduring (Heb 10:36). But we don’t do this alone. God gives us each other to encourage one another to live out the Christian life.
Now there is much more that could be said! For instance, Paul’s instructions in his letters only make sense if those churches met regularly together. It would be impossible for those saints in Philippi to “in humility count each other more significant than yourselves” if they never gathered to do that (Phil 2:3)4
Twicer or not, we all need to live out these truths. A family is not a functioning family if we play favourites. I constantly remind my leaders to make sure we are relating with our whole family of God on a Sunday, not particular brothers or sisters. The irregular regular quickly becomes regular when they truly feel a part of the family, when they are personally spoken to and encouraged by others (not just the preacher!).
So let’s break the twicer habit and experience the great blessing it is to meet habitually as God’s people.
1. I can’t recall who made the comment, but it might be that this phrase is part of a monograph on church. Let me know if so!↩
2. I am not talking to a person who has good reason to be irregular in church attendance (e.g. health issues).↩
4. The word I’ve translated ‘each other’ is often translated ‘others’, but Paul is talking about how the saints in Philippi relate to each other, not to others in general. ↩