Let’s just face the facts. Today, many Christians do not think attending church is that important. In the past, Christians believed that actively being a part of a church body was absolutely necessary to one’s faith. There used to be an understanding in Christian families that unless one was deathly ill or there was a family emergency, you just never ever missed church. So what has changed and caused so many people to view the church as a disposable good instead of as an intricate part of one’s spiritual life?
WHY WE DON’T ATTEND CHURCH: A 40-HOUR A WEEK JOB, BUT NO TIME FOR GOD
Pastor Kevin DeYoung is right. Our lives really are “crazy busy.” There is no doubt about it. Whether you are a college student, a newly-wed couple, or have a family of seven, we live in a day and age where the mentality is simply: go, go, go! This is one of the main reasons why church attendance is viewed as optional. Most people work 40-hour a week jobs in the United States, and so once the weekend hits the mindset of rest and recovery sets in. Trust me, I get it. Everybody wants some downtime. But why do we think that rest and recovery should take place outside of the confines of the house of God?
Recently, Trevin Wax wrote an article titled: “Are You A Part-Time Church Goer? You May Be Surprised.” Wax explains various reasons why people miss church in today’s society. There are 52 Sundays a year. If you only attend 25-30 Sunday services, you are a part-time church goer. Congratulations!
Do you recognize what is clearly wrong with this? Our jobs, which of course we must have to be able to support ourselves and our families, are seen as absolute necessities, while church attendance is simply seen as a dispensable activity. Brothers and sisters, this is not how it should be. Of course, the mindset of just attending church, getting your church attendance ticket punched, is absolutely wrong as well. Pastors and church leaders should preach against this mentality as well. However, think about this for a second. Just like you gather with your biological family, shouldn’t you also desire to gather with your spiritual family?
WHY WE NEED THE CHURCH: A BIBLICAL CASE
I know the arguments that are going to be raised about what I have said thus far. People are going to say: “Does he really believe that attending a local church, going to its building, and doing this once or twice a week is what the Bible is suggesting?” Well yes and no. Kevin DeYoung explains, “I know we are the church and don’t go to church (blah, blah, blah), but being persnickety about our language doesn’t change the exhortation of Hebrews 10:25.” I couldn’t agree more.
Fellowship with your spiritual family is a sign of maturing in the faith as a disciple.Hebrews 10:25 says, “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Have we really become so “new-agey” in our thought that we now think that we have matured past the need to attend church? Lord, let it not be so.
GOSPEL-MOTIVATED CHURCH ATTENDANCE
There is no doubt that what we need to recover in the life of Christians today is a gospel-motivated church attendance. What might this look like? Well, in my opinion its demonstrating the fact that when the church gathers on the Lord’s day, she proclaims the gospel, meditates on the gospel, and rehearses the gospel. By doing this, lives will begin to fundamentally change. It really is just that simple.
When the gospel is at the center our focus shifts. We no longer view church attendance as something we just need to check off, but as an intricate part of our spiritual lives. Instead of serving the god of individuality, we will be serving the God of Scripture. The gospel changes everything. However, we must first let the gospel change our low views of the church, and recognize that the house of the Lord is absolutely vital to the Christian life—to the life of a mature disciple. Should not the good news of Jesus Christ dying for our sins motivate us enough to enter into God’s house on Sundays? I would say so.
We are all at different points in our spiritual walks with the Lord. No matter what point you are at on your journey, I hope that you will come to see the importance of attending church. Do not be so narcissistic and self-consumed to think that you do not need the body of Christ. That is simply a sign of spiritual immaturity and a straight-up lie from the Devil.
I am not trying to guilt anyone into attending church regularly either. However, I am issuing a challenge to those who consider themselves Christians. If you consider yourself to be a part of the bride of Christ (Rev. 19:7-9, 21:2), tell me why would you separate yourself from the body of Christ (Rom. 12:5; 1 Cor. 10:17)? Logically, that makes no sense at all.
So Christians, live in light of the fact that you have been redeemed and do not have to earn your acceptance before God through your church attendance. The community of Christ needs you because it cannot function without all of its body parts. This is not condemnation, but rather an exhortation. Attending church is a blessing that should not be taken for granted.
Matt Manry is the Director of Discipleship at Life Bible Church in Canton, Georgia. He is a student at Reformed Theological Seminary and Knox Theological Seminary. He also works on the editorial team for Credo Magazine and Gospel-Centered Discipleship. He blogs regularly at gospelglory.net.