I have often heard Christians say that church attendance isn’t mandatory and that going to church every Sunday isn’t necessary. As long as I have faith and read my Bible every once in a while, why must I go to church? Christians may also choose not to attend church because of all the “hypocrites” and legalism that takes place.
I understand your arguments, but I disagree! God created us to be in relationship. Since the beginning of time He has been a relational being. In the very first chapter of His Word He reveals Himself to be this way. On the sixth day of creation when He chose to create man, He says, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness...” (Genesis 1:26). “Us” and “our” refer to the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). It is woven into every fiber of our being to spend life with others. Ok, so why does that mean I should attend church?
“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.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)
When we attend church we can be encouraged and equipped to fulfill the great commission given to ALL Christians by Jesus himself:
“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’”
When the first followers of Christ came together miracles began to happen and people experienced the Holy Spirit for the first time.
“So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:41-47)
There is power in unity. There is power in togetherness.
“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” (Ephesians 4:11-16)
We need each other. We all have something to offer the body of Christ. In our brokenness and in our desperate need for grace, something beautiful happens when we surround ourselves with like minded believers.
“Iron sharpens iron,
and one man sharpens another.”
“‘For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.’”
“...encourage one another and build one another up…”
(1 Thessalonians 5:11)
Church is the body of Christ. This is where we should be equipped, encouraged, challenged, confronted, and loved. And through this fellowship may we be inspired to go and face this world - “not in, but sent into” (David Mathis from Let’s Revise the Popular Phrase “In, But Not Of”, desiringgod.org)
The night before Jesus was crucified, this is the prayer he prayed (read the full prayer in John 17):
“‘I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.’”
Jesus makes it very clear what His mission was here on earth and what ours is now. Let’s do this life together. We were not meant to do it alone.