Here are eight reasons you shouldn’t stay home this Sunday. Or any Sunday.
I recently heard a pastor of a large American church say matter-of-factly that the average person in his church attended one out of three Sundays. Sadly, he wasn’t saying it was a problem. He was simply making an observation.
It’s an observation that stands in stark contrast to the admonition in Hebrews 10:24-25: “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 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.”
If going to church is an item we check off our list every week, if we regularly look for excuses to skip out, if the Sunday gathering is more of an obligation than a joy, then perhaps we’ve forgotten why God thinks it’s so important.
As a reminder, let me suggest eight reasons gathering with God’s people each week is meant to be the high point of our week.
1. Jesus came to save a people, not random individuals.
From the days of Adam and Eve, God wanted a people who would declare the greatness of his name through the words and witness of their life together. God never intended our worship to be just “me and God.” That’s because our worship is the outflow of the relationships the Father, Son, and Spirit have always enjoyed.
Throughout the Old Testament God calls his people together to celebrate his goodness and renew his covenant with them (Exodus 19:6; Exodus 23:14-17). In the New Testament, Paul declares that the church is “the temple of the living God” (2 Corinthians 6:16). Elsewhere he refers to us as “God’s field, God’s building” (1 Corinthians 3:9).
Bottom line: God doesn’t give us a choice about whether we want to be in the church. If we’re Christians, we’re already part of the family. The question now is where and how we work out the details of family life.
2. We need to rehearse and be reminded of the gospel.
Robert Robinson confessed in his hymn “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” that he was “prone to wander.” There’s nothing we’re more prone to wander from than our reliance on the gospel — the amazing news that Jesus has come to bear our sins, endure the punishment we deserved, and reconcile us to God.
This is of “first importance” and is meant to dwell in us richly as we meet (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; Colossians 3:16). But we tend to wander from that news when we neglect to meet with the church. We meet together as redeemed saints to remind each other whose we are, how we got here, and why it matters.
3. God’s Word builds us together.
When the church gathers expectantly in one place at one time to hear God’s Word proclaimed, it’s a unique event. God himself addresses us as his people. The Spirit works in our hearts at once to convict, comfort, illumine, and exhort (1 Thessalonians 1:4-5,2:13).
Not only are we being strengthened individually; we’re being strengthened as a body. We can thank God for opportunities to listen to downloaded messages on our own. We can thank him even more that we get to hear them with the church.
4. We were made to serve and care for one another.
The writer of Hebrews tells us we gather “to stir up one another to love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24). I’m stirred up as I benefit from the different strengths, gifts, and abilities God has given to other members of my church. I need to be stirred up regularly. So do you.
In addition, each of us has been gifted in some way to serve our local church (1 Corinthians 12:4-7; 1 Peter 4:10). Of course that serving can and should take place outside Sunday mornings. But when we don’t meet together, we limit the opportunities we have to serve each other.
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