Over the past few years I have noticed a trend which other pastors also seem to be noticing: Faithful church attendance is on the decline among church members. It appears that in years past, church members did not consider themselves faithful unless they attended church at least once per week. However, now the trend seems to be that sporadic attendance is faithful attendance—this is especially true of those within the 20-50 age range. Individuals and families see themselves as faithful church members when they only attend about twice per month.
I believe that this trend is not only unbiblical, but extremely dangerous for the spiritual health of the individual and the family. Here are 9 reasons to consider going to church gatherings every week without fail:
Reason #1: God has commanded regular and faithful church attendance.
“And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, 25 not staying away from our worship meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”
In verse 25, the writer of Hebrews gives a command by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. He tells us not to stay away from our worship meetings as some habitually do. If Jesus is really our Lord, than God’s commands should be the most important motivator in our lives.
Reason #2: Regular Church attendance prepares you for judgement day.
The writer of Hebrews again is helpful here. In chapter 10 and verse 25 he gave the command to not stay away from worship meetings because we see the day drawing near. What day is this? It is the Judgement day when everyone will have to answer to King Jesus. For the one who has not been born again, attending a Biblical church will allow him to hear the good news of Jesus which tells him how he might be saved. However, this passage is directed to those who have been born again already. Should Christians skip church because they have been saved and they are not going to Hell? Not at all! Christians will also go through judgment, but a different kind. Our works will be judged (see 1 Corinthians 3). Regular weekly church attendance will equip the Christian to do the most good for the Kingdom of God.
Reason #3: You need the church and the church needs you.
In the two short verses above, the writer of Hebrews explains another reason for regular church attendance: “And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works… encouraging each other…” If we are not present at our weekly gatherings, we cannot really encourage each other. In fact, the opposite is quite true. If you are sporadic in your church attendance, you will discourage the rest of the church and make it harder for them to follow Jesus. You will also discourage your church leaders who have worked very hard to prepare for the worship gatherings. There are few things more discouraging then walking into a church excited to worship Jesus with others to find out that many of the others decided that something else was more important than worshiping Jesus.
The word “to promote” in the Greek is a word that means to irritate or to agitate. Meeting together allows us to confront one another’s apathy toward serving God. Each Sunday when we gather, our meetings encourage us not to spend too much time on the couch or on the sports field but rather to spend our time loving and doing good works in Jesus’ name.
Reason #4: Regular church attendance gives evidence of your love for Jesus.
In John 14:21 Jesus says, “If you love Me, you will keep My commands.” These words of Jesus seem to capture one of John’s main ideas in his first Epistle which he wrote later. But the idea is that if we love Jesus, we will obey Him. If we don’t obey Jesus, we don’t love Him and we are a liar. It has already been established that one of God’s commands is to not stay away from our worship meetings. If someone really loves Jesus, he will be faithful to meeting with the local church.
Reason #5: Regular church attendance gives you and others evidence of your salvation.
Salvation happens when God’s Spirit, often referred to as the Holy Spirit, makes His home inside a person’s heart as a result of that person putting his trust in Jesus. This is regeneration. This process is explained in the Old Testament book of Ezekiel. God says, “I will place My Spirit within you and cause you to follow My statutes and carefully observe My ordinances.” Notice the result of God’s Spirit entering a person: the person begins to obey God. If we have trusted in Jesus, then we will grow in our obedience to God and that obedience will act as evidence of salvation so we can know for sure that we have been saved and others will know it as well. However, if we are consistently disobedient, then it is evidence that we may not have God’s Spirit and we may not have trusted in Jesus.
Reason #6: Regular Church attendance was the practice of the early church.
Luke is very informative here by recording the practices of the early church. After Jesus rose from the grave and ascended into heaven, the church’s immediate response was to gather regularly for worship.
We read in Luke 24:53, “And they were continually in the temple complex praising God.” Now, at this time, the church had not yet been fully established, however Jesus’ disciples gathered regularly to worship Him at the Temple. Later, they would meet in each other’s homes. Eventually, local churches would build buildings in which they would gather.
In Acts 2, Luke records for us the result of the Holy Spirit indwelling the disciples of Jesus: “And they devoted themselves to the apostle’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to the prayers…Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple complex, and broke bread from house to house.” These early believers worshiped God daily together. Why do we find it so hard to worship Him once a week together?
Reason #7: Regular Church attendance gives you the many benefits of hearing God’s Word preached regularly.
In John 21, Jesus’ command to Peter after He rose from the grave was to feed Jesus’ lambs. This is a metaphor for His followers (see John 10 where Jesus is the Good Shepherd). In Acts 6, deacons were ordained in order that the apostles and pastors could preach the Word of God without distraction. In 1 Timothy and in Titus, Paul directed His young fellow-workers to appoint pastors to guard the church from false teaching. In Ephesians 4:11, we learn that pastors are given to the church to equip the church to serve King Jesus.
Pastors are gifts from God who protect you from going astray and teaching you to follow Jesus. God has called them to proclaim His Word to you and to equip you. However, if you don’t attend the services, you miss what God had in store to teach you that day through His Word proclaimed by your pastor. I often think of being a pastor like being a country grandmother. Many country grandmothers would have the whole family over on Sunday afternoon for a giant meal that she made from scratch. She would put a ton of work and preparation into the meal. However, the family had to show up in order to enjoy the benefits of the meal and the time of fellowship surrounding that meal. Your pastor puts a huge spread on the table for you every week for your benefit. Will you receive the gift that God has in store for you each Sunday?
Reason #8: Regular Church attendance helps parents train their children up in the instruction of the Lord.
Many people think that it is the church’s responsibility to train children to follow the Lord. However, in Deuteronomy 6, Proverbs, and Ephesians, we find that it is the child’s father, with the help of the mother, who has been given the responsibility to raise children in the ways of the Lord. However, the church can come alongside the parents to help them by giving them godly advice, Christian fellowship for the whole family, and the support of other Christian parents.
Reason #9: Regular Church attendance is an act of care toward those for whom Jesus loves.
In Ephesians 5, we learn that Jesus loved the church so much that He died in order to cleanse and purify her. When I was growing up, there was a small abandoned house a few miles down the road. One day, authorities found a young infant dead in that house. The infant had been murdered by her parents by exposure. We can easily see that the parents did not love this infant because they abandoned her. Have you shown hatred for the church that Jesus loved? Have you abandoned her? Yes, she is not perfect yet, but we are still called to love the church because Jesus loves her.
This list is not conclusive, but I hope it will irritate and agitate you to love and good deeds through church attendance. Even though the context is different to which Paul applies it, it still has implications for our discussion, “You are not your own, 20 for you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Will you obey your Lord who bought you with His precious blood? Will you glorify Him through faithful weekly church attendance?