Why do I go to church? Why should you? Following is a list of some of the reasons I believe church attendance is so important:
- Let’s talk priorities… what are yours? Matthew 22:37-39 states “…thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” God doesn’t want our leftovers; He wants to be first in our lives, above our families, friends, sports, work, etc. What does it say about our priorities if we can’t even give God the designated hours per week that the church has assigned for its members to congregate? Here’s how I look at it… if Jesus returns on a beautiful Sunday morning and I’m out digging in the garden instead of worshipping with fellow Christians, will I find myself meeting him in the clouds as 1 Thessalonians 4:17 describes or have I deceived myself only to to hear “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity”? (Matthew 7:21-23)
- Have you ever had one of those days? Maybe you’re depressed, angry, sad, tired and just don’t feel like going. Why bother, right? Maybe it’s better to not attend if your motivations and heart just aren’t in it? Well, I truly believe that’s when we need it the most! All throughout the New Testament we see examples of the early church and the way Christians supported and helped one another through the many trials and tribulations they faced. Honestly, our Sunday and Wednesday meetings don’t do them justice. I think they spent lots more time together and truly knew and were involved in the lives of one another, much more than we are today. They gained strength and encouragement to endure through their constant contact with other Christians. Can we do that without being at services? To an extent, yes, but if you love God, realize the extreme sacrifices made for you and your priorities are right, why wouldn’t you want to attend? I think that’s the real question. (By the way, how much better do you feel after a worship service with fellow Christians and people that love and care about you? I know I always feel better).
- Have you ever been talking with someone and thought things were going well and then all of a sudden you see their eyes glaze over and subtle posture cues let you know that you have lost them…..completely! Whenever the subject of church attendance comes up, undoubtedly, Hebrews 10:25 is thrown out there. You know… “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together…” and more often than not it’s a complete turnoff to those who don’t believe attendance is important. So why do we continue to start there? Don’t get me wrong, I believe attendance is vital, but I also think sometimes we get so caught up in this one verse that we don’t ever talk about the reasoning behind it. Why is attendance important? When we lead with this verse we’ve lost them before we’ve had a chance to get started. The New Testament is replete with directions and “commands” concerning our gathering together and how we should handle ourselves within the church family. That alone paints a very good picture of the importance God places on our being a part of a local congregation. Look again at Hebrews 10:25. Maybe rather than pointing out the “command” to attend services we could instead focus on the warning given, the benefits we derive from being a part of services and why our attendance is crucial (both to us and every other person in there).
- Exhortation, Provocation unto love and good works, Encouragement, Teaching– just a few of the things we are expected to provide for one another within the context of the local congregation. Each and every one of us has moments of weakness. We all need encouragement, we all need help in our efforts to live in this world that is constantly tugging us away from God. If we are not attending, we are not fulfilling a role that God expects from us. We are not provoking to love and good works, we are not being an encouragement (we are actually discouraging) and we are not exhorting others. We can justify and talk ourselves into just about anything but if you truly, honestly look at New Testament Christianity there is no denying our need to search out and find a group of Christians to meet with in order to help us and them in our efforts to make it to heaven.
- Lastly, what about the Lord’s Supper? On the first day of the week the disciples gathered together to partake of the Lord’s Supper. If you’re not attending, you are not honoring and remembering the Lord’s death in the way that HE intended it. Can you honestly say that Jesus, after dying on the cross for you, will be pleased that you’ve ignored His request to remember His death with this memorial (carried out within a group of Christians who meet together and tarry for one another)?
It’s interesting to me that some who profess to be Christians cannot see their need to congregate with others of like faith. The encouragement and provocation that comes from our meeting together is vital and absolutely necessary in our growth process as Christians. I am always amazed at how uplifted and refreshed I feel after being with my local church family. It is truly incredible the effect that a loving, caring group of people can have on you, if you allow it and take advantage of the opportunities that are provided. What hinders you?
By Margot Mantle
Margot and her husband, Jason, worship with the Hazelwood Church of Christ in Hazelwood, MO. She has been a stay at home mom since her two boys were little (they’re teens now). She has a small interior decorating business and has just begun a website for ladies’ Bible study. She hopes to connect with other women through it.