By Weldon E. Warnock
One important phase of the Christian’s life is to attend all the assemblies of the local church where he is a member. Faithful attendance is a good barometer to indicate one’s spirituality. Let us look briefly at church attendance.
The Early Church Assembled
Several passages of Scripture show that the first century church assembled. We read that they continued daily in the temple (Acts 2:46), assembled for a prayer meeting (Acts 4:31) called together by the apostles in order to select and appoint special servants in the church (Acts 6:2), assembled in order to be taught (Acts 11:26), and came together to break bread (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:17-34). The author of Hebrews stated, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together . . .” (Heb. 10:25). James wrote about preferential treatment of a rich man over a poor man who comes into the assembly (Jas. 2:2). Clearly, these passages establish the fact of the assembly in the early church and its importance.
Why Should the Church Assemble?
Many reasons are taught in the Bible as to why the church should assemble.
1. To Worship. There are certain acts of worship for which we are to come together. On the first day of the week we are to eat the Lord’s supper. “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them” (Acts 20:7). Also, we are to “lay by in store” upon the first day of the week (1 Cor. 16:2). Of course, when the church is assembled for these acts, it may, and should, sing, pray, and teach or preach. However, these last three may be done any time the church assembles.
2. To teach. For a whole year Paul and Barnabas assembled themselves with the church at Antioch and taught much people (Acts 11:26). The church at Corinth came together for edification (1 Cor. 14:23-26).
3. To transact business. The apostles called the church together to make arrangements to care for the needy widows (Acts 6:1-4).
4. To report the results of evangelism. “And when they had come and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles” (Acts 14:27).
5. To discuss matters of differences among the brethren. The church at Jerusalem and those who came down from Antioch came together to consider the matter of circumcision, which the Judaizers were imposing on the Gentile churches (Acts 15).
6. To discipline the unruly. Paul wrote to the church at Corinth that when they are gathered together to deliver the fornicator among them to Satan for the destruction of the flesh that the spirit may be saved (1 Cor. 5:4-5).
Now then, what is the Christian’s duty toward the assemblies of the church? Obviously, the Christian should be present, if possible, at all of these meetings. That would be the responsible thing to do. If one may miss without cause, then all may. Hence, there would be no assemblies. Let us look at some reasons why a Christian should be at every service.
1. He is commanded to assemble. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together” (Heb. 10:25). Notice, the verse does not say “assembly” but “assembling.” Verse 24 indicates that in these assemblies we provoke or stimulate one another unto love and good works.
2. In order to do good. “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (Jas. 4:17). Attending all the services of the church is doing good. It does good to the one attending and to the welfare of the whole church. Poor attendance on Sunday night and Wednesday night destroy the spiritual vitality of the church. It is also a bad influence on the community that we are trying to convert. One who sits at home when the church meets does not have the good of the church at heart. Those who think that Sunday morning is sufficient want to go to heaven at a minimal effort. This kind of attitude does not reflect devotion to God and commitment to Jesus Christ.
3. In order for elders to feed the flock. Elders are shepherds and they have the duty to feed the sheep (Acts 20:28; 1 Pet. 5:2). It seems some like the feed that is offered on the “boob-tube” rather than the sincere milk of the word (1 Pet. 2:2). To stay away from the assemblies does not show much of a cooperative spirit toward the elders. Compare Hebrews 13:17.
Brethren, there is more to Christianity than just attending services. But this is an important part of it. Actually, those who refuse to attend all the services don’t take very seriously the other duties of being a Christian. Show me a person who neglects the assemblies of the church and I will show you a person who is doing little, if anything else for the Lord.
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