What’s So Important About Attending Church?
The Christian faith has so many aspects to it, that it makes it very difficult to handle all of them from the pulpit. Some aspects are better addressed in written form, because it allows us to sit back and reflect on what we read.
This booklet is a contribution in trying to address one of the aspects of the Christian faith which is not discussed often enough. When I read this booklet; I was taken in by the content.
I would like to encourage you to read this 8 part essay from the pen of Cooper Abrams over the next few months. He is a Baptist pastor who writes from the heart to the heart. He definitely touched my heart; and I hope that; what he wrote will also touch yours.
The purpose of this booklet is to challenge Christians to dedicate themselves to greater service to the Lord and to truly experience the joy of their salvation. The Lord promised this joy to all believers who live faithful and, subsequently, fruitful lives as a testimony to the grace of God. Many Christians outwardly appear to have little joy or satisfaction in their lives, and I believe one cause is a lack of understanding of Christ’s program for believers, which is the local church. Often believers neglect the support that God provides through the fellowship, ministry and worship in a local, Bible believing church. My purpose is not to scold, but to show from God’s word the importance of the local church in the life of the believer. If you are having trouble in this area, please read this material carefully to the end. It just might change your life.
Part 1 What’s So Important About Attending Church?
“What’s so important about attending church?” is a valid question to ask Christians, because assembling believers together is a vital part of God’s plan for them. However, the poor attendance at some church services shows that many do not understand this important teaching of the New Testament. Most Bible believing churches schedule at least three services a week; however, in most churches fewer than half the membership attends services regularly. Of the number who do attend services regularly, most of these only attend Sunday Morning services. Across America attendance on Sunday nights, and at midweek services, is poor. Because so few attend, many churches have abandoned all but their Sunday morning services.
Church attendance is the subject of a “tongue in cheek” joke: “Those that attend Sunday morning love the preacher. Those that attend Sunday night love the church, and those that attend midweek services love the Lord!” I believe this statement correctly reflects the reason many people attend their church. Loving the preacher or the church will motivate some to attend the more popular services, but if one truly loves the Lord, he will actively take part in all that his church is doing.
Often, we hear reference to those in the churches today as “fair weather” Christians. These are the ones who will miss services when it rains, or if it will cause them some inconvenience. Sadly, if the full membership of most churches would show up on any given Sunday, in many churches, there would not be enough room in the building to seat them. This has become so commonplace that it has become acceptable behaviour among the membership of many churches.
Is attending the regular scheduled service of one’s church important? Is it necessary to attend each service? What’s so important about attending church anyway?
Part 2 God Commands Us to Not Forsake His Church
Is it important for you to attend the services of your church? The answer is obviously “yes” because God commands us to be faithful in attending the meetings of our church. Let’s look at what the Bible says about assembling together, and how God views the church.
Note what God says in Hebrews 10:19 25. Carefully read the passage:
“Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. ”
In these verses the Lord is teaching us to do several things:
- To “draw near with a true heart in the full assurance of faith (V22).”
2. “To hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering (V23).”
3. “To provoke unto love and to good works (V24).”
4. “To not forsake the assembling of ourselves together (V25).”
5. “To exhort one another (V25).”
The reason for doing these things is found in Verse 19. Because we have been saved by Christ’s shed blood, we should boldly be seeking the closest possible relationship with Christ. Christ, by His death, has removed all barriers between Himself and the believer. Our High Priest is Jesus Christ our God and we have immediate and full access to God Himself!
Should not a believer want to have as close a fellowship with the Lord as possible? The Lord also wants this and gives us further instruction by telling us to draw near to Him with a full assurance of faith. God tells us to holdfast our profession of faith in Christ Jesus, without wavering. There is no reason for wavering or doubting because we are promised and assured total access to God.
These verses also tell us to encourage others to serve the Lord. The Lord uses a strong word in telling us to “provoke” others toward love and good works. “Provoke” is not a passive word, it means to actively “incite” others, which says we are to do this with great enthusiasm and zeal.
He then solemnly commands us, “do not forsake the assembling of ourselves together as some do, but to exhort one another.” Note that a vital part of provoking others to be faithful to the Lord is found in attending church. “Exhort” means to urge someone to pursue some course of action. In other words, we are to be urging our fellow believers to be living faithful lives to the Lord.
In The New Testament, An Expanded Translation, Kenneth Wuest translates these verses:
“. . .having had our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and having had our body washed with pure water. Let us constantly be holding fast our confession of the hope, doing so without wavering, for faithful is He who promised. And let us constantly be giving careful attention to one another for the purpose of stimulating one another to divine and self sacrificial love and good works, not letting down on the assembling of ourselves together, even as the custom of certain is, but exhorting one another, and so much more as you are seeing the day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:22 25).
There can be no confusion on the matter: God is telling us to live godly and faithful lives and to urge or stimulate others to do the same. A vital part of living faithful lives is urging others also to live for the Lord. An essential part of doing this is not forsaking the meetings of the church. Christians who do not faithfully attend the services of their church will have a poor testimony among other believers and among the unsaved.
If you have tried to encourage someone to be faithful to the Lord and attend church services, but you are unfaithful in your attendance, your coaxing will have little effect. “Do as I say, not as I do,” carries little weight in persuading others. There is a rebuke in the words in verse 25, “as the manner of some is.” The Lord is saying for us to be faithful, and not follow the example of the unfaithful.
So, a person who is not faithful to their church’s services, according to the Bible, is disobeying the Lord. Those who choose not to attend are not only forsaking their fellow believers, but are forsaking the Lord. There will be little joy and satisfaction in the life of a believer who regularly lets other things interfere with their attendance. The way one attends church can be seen as a barometer of ones dedication and commitment to the Lord. It too, can show a lack of the inward peace and fellowship with the Lord. Truly, God is not going to bless the life of someone who is not faithfully being a testimony for Him.
Not attending regular church services shows a lack of concern for others. It is a selfish and inconsiderate act not to attend services. A church member is not showing love and concern for other believers when he avoids their company. A Christian cannot encourage his brothers and sisters in Christ without being in their presence. No one can lift up others by presenting them with a poor model to follow.
It should be clear that those who are not faithful to church services are setting an example, but it is a destructive one! They are not urging their brothers and sisters in Christ unto love and good works, but by their example are teaching others to be unfaithful. There is no neutral ground for the sinner saved by the Grace of God. When God saves a person, they become a part of the family of God. There are no “benches” in God’s plan for some believers to sit on and watch others “carrying the ball” for the Lord. Everyone who is saved is actively on God’s team and their place of service is important to the work of the Lord.
Every child of God must be made to understand that to not do one’s part in the church is, in truth, giving aid to our enemy Satan. If a Christian is not bringing honour to the Lord, who is the author of righteousness, he is honouring the Devil, who is the originator of disobedience and unrighteousness. The Christian who decides not to attend and support his church when they are meeting is helping Satan by being a stumbling block to the work of the Lord. Further, he is being a hindrance and a discouragement to others who are trying to be faithful.
[Next time we will God willing continue with Part 3 to 5 of Cooper Abrams’s essay on the question: “What’s So Important About Attending Church?”]