By Phil W. Martin
Considering the lax attitudes of many religious people today, it would be easy to conclude that church attendance is optional or perhaps only for those who are very religious and extremely dedicated to their faith. Membership rosters in most churches, compared to actual numbers in attendance, usually tell the story of people’s attitude. The Bible and common sense teach us that church attendance is not just a wise thing, it is a necessary thing.
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near (Heb. 10:23-25).
These words were written to people who were close to losing their faith in Christ. Something had to be done. Some of them were habitually forsaking the meetings of the church. The Hebrew writer came right to the point. He told them not to forsake their own assembling together. Look closely at the verses.
Notice that church attendance has to do with holding fast without wavering, stimulating ourselves and others to love and good deeds, and encouraging one another. It is the experience of the writer of this article that those who forsake the assembly exhibit the very opposite tendencies. They waver in their faith (some fall away from it), they stimulate no one to love and good deeds, and they get increasingly more discouraged in their faith. One cannot say he or she lives by the teaching of the Bible and willingly forsakes the assembling of Christians.
Pillar and Support
I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long; but in case I am delayed, I write so that you may know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth (1 Tim. 3:14-15).
The local church is the assembly of God’s people. Notice its role in the above verses. It is “the pillar and support of the truth.” If you take away the church, you take away the pillar and support of the truth in your life. Collapse of faith is inevitable. If one does not assemble then he will not stay strong in the truth.
This Do In Remembrance
“And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me’” (Luke 22:19). This command of Jesus refers to communion or the Lord’s supper. The early church, directed by the Apostles of Christ, met regularly for communion. The one who does not assemble disregards this command. Elsewhere Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves” (John 6:53). While some might argue that this does not refer directly to the Lord’s supper, where else is the eating of his flesh and drinking his blood fulfilled in the Christian walk? He who does not assemble forsakes the remembrance of the Lord’s supper. It isn’t long before the outcome of “no life” becomes reality.
They Keep Watch
“Obey your leaders, and submit to them; for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you” (Heb. 13:17). A responsibility of God’s shepherds is to keep watch over the souls of church members. These leaders will someday give an account for their work. Such work is difficult enough when Christians assemble regularly and are in contact with one another. Can you imagine the complication when members are seldom or never present? If elders are expected to assume responsibility for such oversight, you need to assume responsibility for regular attendance. Those who chronically do not assemble are like a fish removed from the water. He may flop around on the shore for a while, but ultimately he dies. Remove a coal from the fireplace. It glows for a while, but ultimately it dies. Remove a Christian from the assembly of other Christians, though he may continue in faith for a while, ultimately he dies.
What To Do
If you have stopped the assembling with Christians, we encourage you to take these steps:
• Decide to return immediately. Let the brethren know of your decision. Make this a once-for-all lifetime decision, not a weekly one.
• Adjust your schedule so that regular church attendance is a part of your life. If your work schedule conflicts, share your problem with your fellow Christians. They and the congregation can pray with you for a resolution of the conflicts.
• Assemble once again. Church attendance is not an optional matter. It is a way of life. Make it a habit.