I love the church. She has been there for me over the years in ways I cannot begin to list in this short article. But I’ve invested into her with my time, energy, and money, so my yield on my investment is high.
For so many people, church attendance is seen as optional, or maybe it’s not really seen as important at all. Yet, for nearly 2000 years, the church has met regularly.
Looking at this dichotomy of views between the regular church assembly attenders and those who profess love for Jesus but would rather not “go to church”, why do people stay away?
Many people have been hurt by church people. This is an unfortunate reality for many Christians. In my life all of the meanest people to me have been church people. But I stay. Why? Because all of the nicest people in my life have also been church people, so I don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. The reality is that hurt people hurt people, and sometimes the hurting people don’t recognize their hurt, so they continue to hurt others, oblivious to their sin. But this is not the norm for every church.
Many people have never experienced the depth of the riches of church membership. They’ve attended some, or maybe they regularly attend, but their “regular attendance” looks like once a month or twice a year (Easter and Christmas…maybe Mother’s Day). They’ve heard cool lessons, but their lives have not been affected by their time in that building at those times on those days. They don’t see the benefit in ONE MORE THING to add to their weekly schedule which is already maxed out.
Many people have never been shown that church gathering attendance is crucial to a healthy Christian life. Jesus was shown to them as a savior for their personal sins and issues. They needed the freedom within themselves that Jesus brought, but they were never shown how this same Jesus saved them so that they can live as part of the Kingdom of God, not in isolation but in community.
So why church?
Church gatherings are absolutely essential to the life of the believer. When a person is regularly attending, he or she will be able to know others and be known by others. This allows that person to obey the greatest commands (love God and others – See 1 John 4:20) and to receive the joy of being the recipient of the greatest commands.
Church gathering are commanded in scripture. We see many examples of the church gathering on Sundays and throughout the week in the book of Acts, but it is the Hebrew writer who lays it out on the line when we says, “do not give up meeting together, as is the habit of some…” (Hebrews 10:25). This was a command to the church because the result of neglecting this command was a weakened, sick, and dying body of Christ.
Church gatherings inspire life change. We get out what we put in. This axiom is true in all walks of life. If a child sits on the back row in class and daydreams through school while shirking homework, he or she will not gain the education possible through the school system. On the contrary, if he or she engages in the class, he or she will be enlightened and transformed by the experience. The same is true in churches. When we engage the life of the body of Christ, the church, we grow within ourselves. We become more like Jesus because we are engaged in a culture that is striving to become more like Jesus, collectively. When we volunteer to teach, we learn things we never expected. When we give, we participate in the larger work of the church. When we lean in to the worship service, we are touched by the Holy Spirit. When we visit with others, we gain family.
Church engagement is absolutely essential to the life of the believer. The more you attend, the stronger your faith-journey will be. I have seen it to be true that the less often you assemble with your brothers and sisters in Christ, the more you struggle with sin in your life and the temptations of the evil one. If you want to succeed in your life in Jesus, you start by gathering with his bride, the church, every time they gather.
Remember, when you made Jesus the Lord of your life, you joined His church, His bride, not to be alone, but to gather together in the strength of numbers, resisting the evil one. Will you live out this commitment in your life as you join with other Christians in weekly gatherings?
If you aren’t connected to a church, let me know, and I can find a church in your area to recommend to you.