WHY YOU SHOULD GO TO CHURCH
And 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. – Hebrews 10:24–25
Not everyone who professes to be a Christian actually goes to church. This baffling paradox of claiming to be the church but not going to church is increasingly problematic.
Of course, the reasons issued by these believers are predictable. Some have been hurt by the church, and thus they find church membership and attendance to be an unnecessary painful experience. Others argue that the church is full of hypocrites, and they don’t want to be associated with those who live as poor witnesses of the truth of the gospel.
But the reality is that these reasons excuses are likely masks for what truly keeps people home on Sunday morning. People don’t go to church because they may not sense an immediate benefit on any given Sunday. More significantly, they don’t sense any immediate ramification for not going. The bottom line, unfortunately, is that many self-claimed Christians simply would rather spend their time doing something else.
But another trend of American culture has significantly impacted this conversation as well. As consumerism has prevailed, it has leaked into the mindset of the Christian subculture. Christians don’t attend a particular church because they aren’t satisfied with the quality of the preaching. Or they don’t believe the music is up to their personal expectations. Or they aren’t particularly pleased with the people.
And in 2019, they believe they can simulate these things. They can listen to their favorite preachers anytime they want. Podcasts, sermon links, and YouTube videos abound with sound teaching. Christian radio and other music is available with a simple click. And if you don’t go to church, you can hand-select the Christians you actually want to spend your time with.
But the reality is that these supposed simulations are only a shadow of the benefits that come from being involved and regularly attending a local church. They should serve as supplements to, not replacements of, the local gathering.
A number of compelling reasons to attend church exist which far outweigh any reasons for neglecting to do so.
The Biblical Mandate
The most obvious and compelling reason to regularly gather together with other believers is that the Bible commands it. The author of the Book of Hebrews describes the importance of not neglecting to meet together, but instead coming together to encourage one another (Hebrews 10:24–25). This alone is enough to dispel any argument about not faithfully attending the local gathering.
No podcast or sermon link can simulate the experience of worshipping with a body of believers all together. The local church is the only regular expression of this kind of corporate worship experience. And it is a gathering together of people who outside of Christ otherwise would not regularly meet together. Nothing can replace the beauty of coming together corporately to worship the one true God with other believers who also have the Holy Spirit in them through the redeeming work of salvation.
The local church is incredibly important for the spiritual growth of its members. First of all, we garner spiritual nourishment from the regular proclamation of the Bible. As the Bible is preached, we are able to grow in spiritual maturity. Secondly, we are offered constant reminders of the gospel of Jesus Christ through the administration of the ordinances. As we see others enter the waters of baptism or as we regularly take the Lord’s Supper, the beauty of the glorious gospel is pushed to the forefront of our minds.
You don’t stumble into holiness. It requires consistency, diligence, and intentionality. And it often takes place through the life of the local church.
The author of Hebrews discusses the importance of not neglecting to gather together and of encouraging one another. Being around the family of God is incredibly encouraging in a number of ways. And what is often overlooked is the fact that your presence might also provide encouragement to others.
Serving Through the Use of Spiritual Gifts
The consumeristic mindset of the age completely neglects the importance of service through the use of spiritual gifts. We are frequently reminded that the body of Christ is made up of many parts (1 Corinthians 12:12–27), and that every believer has a spiritual gift to contribute to the good of the church for the glory of God (Romans 12:4–8; 1 Peter 4:10–11). A lack of connection to a local church deprives the church of the gift you have been given and neglects the purpose (and responsibility) for which you received it. It is only through the activity of the local church that you can properly serve through the use of your spiritual gifts.
Being connected to a local church provides natural, built-in accountability. If you are involved and connected, your absence will be noticed. If you are living in close proximity with other believers, your sin will be exposed. Neglecting to gather together with other believers creates an opportunity for sin to wreak havoc in your life without the help of brothers and sisters in Christ.
More formally, the biblical church provides both formative and corrective discipline for its members. God disciplines those he loves (Hebrews 12:7–11). In the same way, the local church provides discipline to encourage repentance and growth for its members.
An Eternal Perspective
Finally, the regular gathering together of believers in one place helps provide hope for the believer in the form of the reminder of the age to come. The corporate gathering of believers outside the crushing weight of the world offers a glimpse of a future time, where believers of every tribe and nation and people and tongue will gather around the throne and worship the Almighty God forever and ever.
The world is a devastatingly dark place. The church provides a necessary glimmer of light in that darkness and reminds us of the precious hope that is to come.
Going to church is not about garnering attendance points for credit with the Father or about meeting sub-cultural standards for those who claim to be in Christ.
Rather, going to church – and being part of the church – is ultimately designed to be for our good and for His glory.