That big elephant in the room.
The problem a lot of us see, but don’t want to acknowledge because we really don’t want to step on toes.
Well, here it is:
There’s a growing number of good, Christian people that are cutting the local church completely, and it’s not okay.
There are several reasons as to why this is happening.
Life’s too busy.
It’s “organized religion.”
It’s not like it used to be.
Etc., etc., etc.
Let’s be honest, life is hard, and you have other options (podcasts, Facebook Live, TV, etc.).
Hear me loud and clear when reading the next line –
It’s a mistake.
One of the most popular arguments for lack of church attendance I’ve heard is – Christians don’t have to go to church because we ARE the church.
That’s all fine and good, but if we really are The Church, we’ll see the need to get together with other Christians on a regular basis. There is no true way for us to “be the church” if we don’t attend church.
We cannot be “The Church” on our own. Never have we seen “The Church” be just one person. It’s never been one believer going about his business living his Christian life. “The Church” is multiple people.
We see some of the early Christians gathering together – weekly, mind you – in homes to worship. At times, they would meet every day.
To say there is “church” is to say that there is a GROUP, a COMMUNITY, of believers gathering to worship and encourage.
Please don’t interpret what I’m saying in this post to mean that you cannot be a Christian if you don’t attend church.
That’s not it.
Your salvation is not determined by your church attendance, BUT Christians SHOULD want to be with other Christians. This life we have chosen to live as believers was never meant to be lived alone.
Let’s look at a marriage for a second.
When I married Aaron, we moved in together. Why did we do this?
First and foremost, I love my husband. I love spending time with him. I love getting closer to him. I love learning new things about him. I love being with him in general.
Second, we need to consistently be working on our relationship. When we were engaged, Aaron and I lived apart. When we were living apart, I thought our relationship was strong. I had no idea how much stronger it would get when we got married. Why did it get so much stronger? Because we were spending SO much more time together. When we aren’t working, we’re together talking, growing, and learning. Aaron knows things about me that others don’t. He knows my weaknesses and my strengths. He knows when I need to be encouraged. He knows when I need to be held accountable.
(There are several other reasons why we live together, but those two are plenty all on their own.)
Being married meant that I became a part of a whole new family.
Why would a relationship with the Lord be any different?
That’s exactly what being a Christian is.
When you get saved, you become a part of God’s family.
Family takes work.
You need to spend time with your family.
You need to get to know your family.
You need to encourage your family.
You need to worship with your family.
You need to pray for your family.
You need to love your family.
“On the most elementary level, you do not have to go to church to be a Christian. You do not have to go home to be married either. But in both cases, if you do not, you will have a very poor relationship.”
Shifting gears just a little here.
In the New Testament, we see the very first Christians having a strong desire to be together. They wanted nothing more than to spend time with each other. This time was spent learning, singing, praying, eating, encouraging, loving, etc., etc., etc.
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, and to the breaking of bread and prayer.” Acts 2:42
They devoted themselves…
This means they were studying. They were worshiping. They were together. They were having church.
They saw the vitality of being together – of spending time with other believers – of getting in the Word – of worshiping with other believers – of church.
Let’s also keep in mind that God does tell us to be in church.
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25
“…not neglecting to meet together…”
How much clearer can God be?
There are FAR too many CHRISTIAN people that are justifying their lack of attendance with things that, in the grand scheme of things, don’t matter.
“I want to be in church, but I’m just too busy.”
Believe me, I know life’s busy.
At 22, I’m a wife, a mom, and a student with a full-time job. I have a house to clean, laundry to do, meals to cook, bills to pay, papers to grade, papers to write, and plenty of diapers to change. On top of all this, I’m a type 1 diabetic. This means I have to check my blood sugar AT LEAST once before every meal and once before I go to sleep. This is if my blood sugar is perfect. Perfection in the life of a diabetic is rare. If my blood sugar is high, I have to give myself a correction using my insulin pump, then I check every two hours until it regulates. If my blood sugar is low, I have to have a snack, then I check in fifteen minutes. If it’s still low, I eat again and check a third time in fifteen minutes. This continues until it regulates. I also have to keep up with my pump levels. Every three days, I have to change my insulin site and cartridge.
This isn’t me throwing a pity party. Just know, I’m busy too, and guess where I am every Sunday with my husband AND my six-month-old.
It’s that important.
“Church attendance is as vital to a disciple as a transfusion of rich, healthy blood to a sick man.”
“Well, your dad’s a preacher. Of course, you’re at church. You have to be.”
I love this one.
Yes, my dad’s a pastor. He has been my entire life. Yes, I grew up in church. In my house, church was a priority. My parents taught me how important church was and is. My mom taught me how to take notes from the sermon. My dad consistently showed me how important it is to spend time with and fellowship with other Christians. When we would go on vacation in the summers, I hated having to miss church on Sunday. I wanted to be there.
Everything I learned as a kid has stayed with me as I’ve entered adulthood.
It’s important to be in the Word.
It’s important to worship with other Christians.
It’s important to take those notes.
It’s important to sing the songs.
It’s important to tithe.
It’s important to be in church.
“I can listen to a podcast, watch a church on Facebook live or tv, or even listen to audio recordings of church services instead of actually going there.”
You and I both know that’s not even remotely the same thing. Church is SO much more than what you hear. It’s the community. It’s the support. It’s the encouragement.
We’re stronger when we’re together. That’s common sense.
How weak would the church be If every believer reduced church to just a podcast?
Don’t get me wrong – I love a good podcast. I have learned a lot from Christian podcasts. There really is quality information to be taken from them, but don’t replace church with a recording you listen to on your way to work in the morning.
It’s not the same.
“Church people can be mean. They can be judgmental, and I don’t know if I can go back because I’ve been hurt by the church before.”
First, let’s bear in mind that “church people” are people. They’re not perfect – far from it, actually. Also, just because there was one – maybe there was more than one – Christian that was not nice to you doesn’t mean that every Christian should be written off as “mean” or that every church should be written off as hypocritical.
Just because there was one church that had bad leadership or had mean members doesn’t mean someone should assume that all of them are going to be the exact same way.
I’ve grown up in church. I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. I’ve seen mean people. I’ve actually, believe it or not, had people be mean to me because they were upset with something my dad did. I’ve seen a portion of a congregation work as hard as they could to try to push my dad into a resignation.
Trust me, I’ve seen some bad, but I’ve seen far more good in the church.
I’ve seen God move through a church that was once broken, restore it, and make it even stronger on the other side. I’ve seen people that choose to give their life to the Lord and follow up their salvation in baptism. I’ve seen people come alongside a Christian who is struggling, pick that person up, and encourage them to continue fighting. I’ve seen revival. I’ve seen Christians come together to show unconditional love to a lost community.
Don’t give up on a church just because you had one bad experience.
Christians – We NEED each other. We need to work together. We need to worship together. We need to love each other. We need to encourage each other. We need to study together. We need that fellowship. We need to pray for each other. We need to reach out to the world together.
Matthew 18:20 says, “Where two or three men are gathered in My Name, there I am among them.”
When we gather in His name, we get to experience Him in a way that can never be experienced on our own. When we’re in church, He’s there, and His presence is evident.
Don’t neglect the importance of being in church. Honestly, it’s a nonnegotiable when you claim the name of Jesus, and in your heart of hearts, I think you know that.
“Church membership is not an incidental or optional matter for the Christian. Rather, it’s an essential and important aspect of the Christian life. According to Scripture, being a part of a local church brings with it tremendous privileges, and serious responsibilities, that can be fulfilled in no other way.”