Once, when I was traveling on a mission trip I sat next to a fellow passenger on an airplane and we started a discussion en route to our destination. I shared with the person that I am a pastor. My new friend proudly proclaimed that he was also a Christian. I asked him what denomination his church was and his response was, “I do not attend worship services at the church. My faith is personal and I have my own reason for not attending worship services.” Are you familiar with a response like this? Maybe you have used this line of reasoning. It is not a good idea for Christians to ignore the regular attendance of worship services and here is why:
Every Christian is a vital member of the body of Christ
In Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthian church, we discover the following:
Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it. (I Corinthians 12:27)
A member of the human body is not able to survive alone, separated from the rest of the body. The member of a human body lives and accomplishes its purpose only when it is attached to the rest of the body and doing its part in the overall system. It is the same for the members of the body of Christ. Each member serves the other members and is served by the other members. This is how God has designed the human body and it is also the way that He has designed the body of Christ.
Worship services give each member the spiritual growth and development that they need
On the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended upon the earth and the church was formed, the Christians did not have a set meeting place for worship services. They were in a very hostile environment. Let’s take a look at how they conducted themselves as they lived out their faith daily.
41 So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls.
42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
43 Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles.
44 And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common;
45 and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.
46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart,
47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2)
The early Christians had daily worship services at the Temple. Today, many Christians limit themselves to one worship service a week on Sundays. There are a few who attend worship services during the week as well. Notice how the first Christians were studying the Scriptures constantly during their daily worship services. Today, many attend services and never even open the Bible. I see a major difference between the early Christians and the Christians of today.
Genuine Christians make spiritual things a priority
When I was a child, I remember when our aunt, a great Christian lady, would visit us. She was totally submitted to following Christ in every aspect of her life. She lived in a neighboring village but would attend church in our village. After the worship service, she would visit us and the other families of her siblings. This aunt would constantly encourage my father to open up the Bible and read It as well as come and attend worship services at the church. My father’s response was always the same, “if I read the Bible and go to church, when will I have time to work and take care of things around the house?” This was ironic because my aunt was a hard worker and always took care of her home, yet, she always made time to read the Bible and regularly attend worship services at church. In contrast, her home was more modest than ours yet, in her home, there was peace and quiet, as well as joy. These important things were missing in our home. Genuine Christians are just as hard working as everyone else, yet, they make time for important, spiritual things like Bible study, prayer, and attending worship services regularly. This is what Jesus tells us to do in His Holy Word, “to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness”. This is what my aunt did on a daily basis. A genuine Christian makes attending worship services a priority.
Genuine Christians are no influenced by the circumstances of life
Followers of Jesus Christ do not do things simply because that is what everyone else does. Followers of Christ are not influenced by the majority. Christians are impacted and influenced by the clear teachings of the Word of God. I have heard many excuses from people over the years of why they do not attend worship services. I regularly hear things like, “the music is too loud, the people are not friendly, everyone there is a hypocrite, the pastor is not dynamic, the pastor is too dynamic, I cannot find a good church etc.” These excuses may sound valid but, when compared to the clear teaching of the Word of God that each Christian is a vital member of the body of Christ and is to serve and be served in the body, the excuses become invalid very quickly. Don’t let others’ excuses keep you from being obedient to the Lord. Get plugged in to a local body of Christ and use your talents and spiritual gifts to serve those around you. Not only will they benefit from being served by you, you will also benefit from being served by them. You will be a vital part of the body of Christ, giving and receiving spiritual blessings. You will develop and mature as a follower of Christ and you will help others develop and mature. The body will function properly and growth will take place.
I would like to close with the following verses from the book of Hebrews:
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;
24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,
25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. (Hebrews 10)