I’ve heard every excuse in the books for reasons why people don’t attend church: I like to sleep, all they want is money, it’s too hot, it’s too cold, the microphone is too loud, the microphone is too quiet, people aren’t nice to me there, it’s full of hypocrites, the pews aren’t comfortable, I don’t like the preacher, the preacher always preaches too long, they don’t have a good kids program, I don’t like to dress up, I don’t like the music, it’s not right for me, it’s our family day, it’s our only day to relax, someone years ago hurt my feelings, the carpet is ugly, one time I went to a potluck and a dish gave me food poisoning, there’s not enough toys in the nursery, etc.
You may think I am joking or exaggerating, but I have heard almost all of those excuses throughout our ministry. Although some of those excuses seem a bit silly, there are many times where people’s excuses are legitimate or they make sense. But the truth is that every one of us could find a million reasons why we shouldn’t go to church every week if we tried. My life is busy, some days I’m on “people overload” and there are times I could knock out large projects at the house if I had the full day. However, the Bible tells us that church is important. We should make the time in our week to worship with fellow believers, to participate and be involved in the body of Christ. And to be really blunt, if you are not willing to give God a couple hours of your time each week for Christ and His bride, I would question how much you are really following Him. (NOTE: Understand that while I am advocating that going to church is important for those who are able, I am not criticizing those who are physically or mentally unable. I also understand that things come up, we all get sick and sometimes we go on vacation.)
Sometimes it’s good to take a step back and think about the reasons why we do things. Today I’m taking a deeper look into why it’s important to be involved in the local church.
- Going to church is God’s command.
Jesus did it, so we should too. Luke 14:6 says:
“Jesus went back to Nazareth, where he’d been brought up and as usual he went to the meeting place on the Sabbath.”
The writer of Hebrews forbids us from prolonged absence from church:
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV)
In short, going to church is a matter of obedience.
- Fellowship with other believers.
Christians are the family of God – we are brothers and sisters in Christ. We are called to share one another’s joys and burdens in love. We are to build up one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11), comfort one another (I Thessalonians 4:18), pray for one another and confess our sins to one another (James 5:16). When we have a relationship with Christ, fellowship is twofold: with God and with other believers. We are to encourage one another, hold one another accountable for our actions and worship our Lord as the body of Christ.
It is important to realize that even though the church is made up of God’s children, they are still people – sinners. The church is not perfect, but neither are we.
- Essential for spiritual growth
Okay, it’s not absolutely essential for spiritual growth. I am not speaking to the missionary overseas in a country that is hostile to Christianity or the person who is sick in the hospital. But honestly, where else can you go to hear the Word of God, fellowship with other believers, sing praise music and get involved and grow deeper in His Word? I can tell you right now, you can’t get that online.
- Jesus is coming again for His bride, the church.
The church is Jesus’ bride, so if you love Jesus, you should love His bride as well.
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” Ephesians 5:25-27 (NIV)
God knows what’s best for us. He wouldn’t tell us to go to church if it wasn’t best for our spiritual, emotional and physical needs. His bride may not be perfect, but it’s still His bride.