This young lady, who I will call Lydia, talked about her salvation experience at age 18 and subsequent marriage to a man she describes as the model of the husband described in the New Testament. He , according to her is the closest man that she has ever known to the example of love that was personified in Jesus. Her husband covers her everyday with a fresh devotion that he writes each day after spending time with God in prayer, meditation, and in reading the Word. She shared the devotion that he wrote sent to her that day in a Facebook message. It was powerful, full of love, and the Word, and was obviously written under the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
Lydia is bold in her witness, unafraid to talk about Jesus to anybody. She is not afraid to show the love of Christ anywhere at anytime, to anyone.
We talked about the failure of the church to reach those tossed aside because they don't fit the church model that man has created. She says, and I agree, that to love as God loves we have to admit that we are all flawed. We talked about the church locking up the anointing and refusing to release it unless you fit the church model.
I was convicted during our conversation because she said that if she had not started talking about the Lord that I probably would have never mentioned Jesus which meant that had she not been a believer, would have been a missed opportunity to share the Gospel. OUCH!! I had to confess that she was right. We talked about all the excuses we have for not witnessing to strangers.
I've written all of this to describe this amazing woman of God. So you will be as surprised as I was, or maybe not, when she told me that she and her husband, who she met in church, who were praise and worship leaders, no longer go to church. Her children the oldest, of which, is a teenager, have been to a church, maybe once. I have no doubt about this young lady's love of Jesus, the effectiveness of her witness, and her value to the Kingdom of God. She and her family are “sold out”, but she is missing one thing that I believe we, as Christians are instructed to do. That thing is what the Holy Spirit has has been showing me in the last couple of months, and that is the necessity of the church meeting together to praise, worship, teach, preach, and fellowship. Meeting together prepares each one of us to be effective witnesses able to accomplish the Great Commission.
Matthew 28:18-20 CEV Jesus came to them and said: I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth! Go to the people of all nations and make them my disciples. Baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to do everything I have told you. I will be with you always, even until the end of the world.
Church attendance is not just a “good suggestion”; it is God’s will for believers.
Hebrews 10:23-25 CEV We must hold tightly to the hope we say is ours. After all, we can trust the one who made the agreement with us. We should keep on encouraging each other to be thoughtful and to do helpful things. Some people have given up the habit of meeting for worship, but we must not do that. We should keep on encouraging each other, especially since you know that the day of the Lord's coming is getting closer.
Lydia could be even more energized and effective by membership and attendance at a local church. Yes there are some bad churches but they are in the minority. You need to know what to look for to find the church that the Bible says you need to attend. You can find those things by clicking this LINK to my posts on the church.
Does the Bible Say We Really Have to Go to Church?
God designed the church to be an irreplaceable catalyst of growth for every Christian. When you skip church, you miss out on some of the spiritual gains He has planned for you.
Bible study, prayer and small groups are great but they won’t bolster you to full maturity without adding church into the mix. Think of an athlete who focuses solely on building their arms while letting their legs waste away. They look awkward and imbalanced. In the same way, Christians who don’t regularly attend and engage with a church will be lacking in spiritual strength no matter how much they pray and read their Bible on their own.
Thankfully, God gives us several clear descriptions of what it looks like to be a healthy, committed member of a church. Let’s look at three times the Bible tells us how often we should attend church:
1. We should attend church often enough to show we care deeply about it.
“And let us watch out for one another to provoke love and good works, not neglecting to gather together, as some are in the habit of doing,but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).
What does it mean to neglect gathering together? It means to fail to care properly for church. If someone neglects meeting together with their church, it means they leave church attendance behind in the pursuit of other concerns and cares. Whether those cares are hobbies, scheduling conflicts or a date with their pillow, Scripture is clear: Some are in the habit of doing this, but you shouldn’t be one of them!
We can summarize it in this way: Church attendance should be the norm and missing church should be the exception, and not the other way around. This means that we should strive to meet weekly with our church body, in person. And while we’re there we should engage in relationship and service to others. If you could somehow look at a record of your church attendance for the past year, it should show that you cherish the church and that you attend accordingly.
2. We should attend church persistently and with perseverance.
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42)
The early church as described in Acts was full of radical growth, outrageous miracles and genuine, joy-filled relationships. Doesn’t this sound like the church we all want to attend? In this time when the church was thriving, Acts 2:42 uses an interesting word to describe the believers in the church. They were devoted. This word in the Greek means to persist, to persevere in and continue steadfast in.
Maybe you are in a season where church is hard. It’s not the time or the busyness that’s kept you from attending, it’s the emotions that rise up in you when you enter the building and rub shoulders with the people.
It may encourage you to know that Scripture says we should persist and persevere in our commitment to the church. And there’s hardly any persistence needed in times of ease, so these verses must be talking about pressing in even when times are hard.
These verses also give us the four areas of church we should be devoted to. If you’ve stepped away from church or have never been fully committed, then these could be seen as four steps to devote or re-devote yourself to the house of God.
The church in Acts devoted themselves to:
Teachings of the Apostles - We should be committed to learning from the teaching of the Bible in our church.
Fellowship - We should be committed to partnership and participation with our church.
Breaking of Bread - We should strive for time spent face to face around a table and not just shoulder to shoulder in the rows of the sanctuary.
Prayer - We should pray for and with members of our church.
3. We should attend church like our role in it is vital to its growth and health.
“And he himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, equipping the saints for the work of the ministry, to build up the body of Christ, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into maturity with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness … From him the whole body, fitted and knitted together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building itself in love by the proper working of each individual part” (Ephesians 4:11-13, 16).
The Bible frequently refers to the church as the body of Christ and to its members as individual parts of the body. Like the various systems, organs, and muscles of a body cannot function without each other, God created us to be interdependent and interconnected. No person can choose to live independently from the rest of the body of Christ without causing harm to themselves and to the rest of the church.
You need the people of the church and the people of the church need you. The church needs you to show up on Sunday, tired as you may feel and disheveled as you may appear. The woman in the seat next to you needs you to shake her hand and say, “I’m glad you’re here.” The new family visiting needs you to serve in the kids’ rooms so they can hear the gospel in the service. A family in your small group needs you pray for them as they work to heal their marriage.
Just as the church’s role in your life is irreplaceable, so is your role in the church. How would it change your perspective when your alarm goes off on Sunday morning if you knew that when you enter the church doors, you would be doing things no one else could do to build up those around you? And not only that, but you will be doing it alongside people who will be building you up as well!
The Bible doesn’t give us a specific number of times per month we should attend church, but it does speak to the heart we should have for the house of God. Our heart should hold the church dear, persevere in commitment and value the role we play in the body of Christ. If we align our hearts with God’s word in these three areas, regular church attendance is the only possible outcome.