I know a number of Christians who attend church infrequently or not at all. Some of them have had bad experiences with a pastor or church members. Some think the people who go to church are hypocrites. Others think they’re not “good enough” to go to church. A good number complain that thechurch only wants their money. A few are afraid of feeling obligated to go once they start. Quite a few say that Sunday morning is the only day they can sleep in. Still others work or have kids in sports on the weekends. A couple count televised church services as their attendance. Some teens and young adults think church is too boring. Finally, some individuals don’t go to church because their spouse or family members won’t go with them.
With so many reasons not to go to church, why should we make a big deal about it? After all, going to church isn’t going to save us, right? Right. There is nothing we can do, including going to church, to ensure that we
will go to heaven to be with God when we die (Ephesians 2:8-9). Therefore, church should be optional, shouldn’t it?
Church attendance is certainly our option as is praying, reading the Bible, and serving God. But there are good reasons for exercising that option, just as there are good reasons to pray, read Scripture, and engage
1. The church is an unrivaled means of support. When you are in need whether physically, emotionally, financially, or
spiritually, there is no more powerful source of strength on earth than the church. Many times I counseled individuals who were in great need who did not have a church home. I was at a loss in directing them to help. Friends, family,
and government agencies can help in small matters, but having a faith family to turn to in times of real trouble is a great comfort.
The church is a great source of fun and friendship. The majority of the friends and the fun I’ve had as a married woman have been in church. We’ve had progressive dinners, girls’ nights out, Survivor birthday parties, Superbowl parties and so much more. My current church has a free fitness center so I’ve enjoyed meeting non-church member friends to work out, too.
The church provides a simple means of worshiping with other believers. You may argue that Christians do not have to go to church, but you cannot argue that a Christian doesn’t have to worship God. Although we always have good intentions to engage in focused worship by praying, singing, and reading Scripture with others, distractions usually rule the day. Even with my large family, I would be afraid how little worship time we would have if not for our weekly church attendance. The Bible does say where two or more are gathered in His name, Jesus is with them (Matthew 18:20). The problem is with being intentional about gathering in His name at home. If you don’t go to church, worship happens sporadically. Note Hebrews 10:25 which encourages believers not to give up meeting together as some do.
The church provides teaching and encouragement from God’s Word. It’s true that you can do Bible studies outside the church. You can even do them online by yourself! This kind of study is wonderful. But there is nothing like being able to ask questions and hearing the encouragement of others who have experienced God’s work in their lives. How often do you hear good news at home? At church, the praise reports balance out the requests for help, hope, and healing. Again, you might get distracted during the week and have no time for Bible reading. But at least once a week you will hear the Truth if you attend church.
The church provides a means of remaining in Christ and bearing fruit. John 15:5 tells us that unless we are a part of
Christ’s body, we will not bear fruit (described in Galatians as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, goodness, and self-control). Who among us couldn’t stand to bear more fruit? But how can we remain in Christ? John
6:56 tells us how. “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.” This is discussing Communion, the eating of bread and wine. It’s true that you can eat and drink these things at home, but if not truly done in memory of the Lord under the conditions most frequently available in church, are you really
remaining in Him?
The church can give its members a means of serving and finding purpose. Ephesians 2:10 tells us that we were created to do good works. Surely the church is not the only place to do good works, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good place to start! Serving in church is what allowed me to build dozens of relationships that have blessed me beyond measure. The church has also given me a sense of purpose. It was meeting fellow church member, Sharon Rohrbach, that was the impetus for me getting to write for Woman’s Day magazine. How many stars have gotten their start singing in church? How many ordinary men and women serve selflessly today and will be stars in heaven
I have twice attended a new church alone. It was quite intimidating! I feel your pain if you are a Christian who hasn’t
attended church in a while. However, I pray you will consider attending this Sunday. There are many, many churches with unique people and styles. One of them will be right for you. One more thing to consider: in heaven, church won’t be an optional thing; it’ll be the only thing.