I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord.”
– Ps 122.1
What does Church mean to you? Is it a building full of hypocrites who gather together to pat themselves on the back once a week? Is it somewhere you go to see your friends and socialize? Do you go, or try to go, to get right with God? To make amends for those bad decisions you made during the week? Is it your weekly, spiritual nourishment?
God gave us the Church for encouragement, accountability and community. A gathering of people who glorify God by corporately praising Him, testifying about His goodness, calling sinners (ourselves) to repent and grow in Him and to serve and love the world by making disciples of all nations.
But unfortunately, many Christians consider church something we “do”. Once a week. And it’s for me, not for God or one another. We change churches when trials come, or “I’m just not being fed”. We want to come, sit in the pew/seat, hear a good teaching that will fill us up and last us until next week, see our friends, hear some music and go home.
This becomes evident by the way we treat our church attendance and gathering habits. Is it a big deal if you miss church? I lived in Indianapolis, IN for eight years and many churches there cancelled their Sunday services on “race day”. You know, the Indianapolis 500. That’s right, on Memorial Day weekend, when the city is bursting with visitors from around the world, we cancel our gatherings to worship God and pray for the world who has come to our doorstep because, hey, we like to have fun.
What’s that? It’s Christmas? Let’s cancel church! Because Christmas is about family and gifts and being with one another and traditions. Not about the miraculous incarnation of God in human form, coming to die on your and my behalf so that we do not have to spend eternity in Hell. No, we ought not bother ourselves to remember Him. Because Church is just to see our friends and feel good about ourselves.
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 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.”
– Heb 10.23-25
We are exhorted here, in the book of Hebrews to not neglect church. We are to gather together to encourage one another, and all the more as we move closer to the end of the age! Not less. Growing up, my family was at church all. of. the. time. Two services on Sunday, one on Wednesday, and sporadic trainings, meetings, and other service opportunities. That is not necessarily the model. The Simple Church movement that has begun is removing many of these activity-based gatherings and replacing them with community and accountability groups. Gathering with one another and encouraging one another to know and love God does not necessarily mean that you have three services a week. But it does mean that you are regularly gathering corporately, as a body, to worship and learn, and that you are in community that holds you accountable and pushes you on to maturity and good deeds.
Ask not what the church can do for you, but how you can serve her. If Jesus Christ has eternally saved you from your sins and damnation, you can give Him at least a few hours a week to gather with other believers, worship Him and encourage one another. And by all means, let us keep our priorities in line! Worshiping Him is infinitely more important than a race. And holidays that were set aside in His honor? Let us never so disgrace Him as to cancel our gatherings and defame Him so.
“No Christ in your sermon, sir? Then go home, and never preach again until you have something worth preaching!”
– Charles Spurgeon