A few weeks ago an online post from a major ministry struck a nerve when it stated the necessity of church attendance for your growth as a believer in Christ.
It’s surprising to me how many Christians struggle with the idea of church attendance. We are at a crossroads in our nation on the importance of going to church. According to research, church attendance has remained virtually the same percent of our national population for the past 70 years, however, this still means there are a huge number of American Christians who are not active in a local church—in the tens of millions.
Of course, this isn’t a new problem. Since the beginning of Christianity, the early leaders had to challenge this mindset, saying, “Do not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).
A popular Christian social media catch-phrase is, “You don’t go to church, you are the church.” While I get the sentiment in some ways, this is an unhealthy view, pitting “being the church” and “going to church” against each other. If we are truly “the church,” then we will surely get together with other believers regularly. We cannot “be” the church, if we don’t “go” to church. Not fully anyways.
The “church” never connotes a single, individual, lone ranger Christian just going about his Christian duties and never gathering together to worship with other believers. The “church” by its very nature means multiple believers: “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them” (Matthew 18:20).
This is both the biblical and historical pattern set forth for us by the first followers of Jesus. They would get together weekly to worship God together, and at times even daily. They would also share community together in each other’s homes. Paul and the other Apostle’s letters were actually sent to these church communities that gathered in various cities to be read aloud together. Church means getting together with other believers to worship Jesus Christ, and hear the Scriptures together, and encourage one another in the faith.
Craig Groeschel shared recently, “There is something better. To worship God together and be committed to worship Him together, to hear His Word together. Do not reduce church to listening to a podcast. It’s so much more than that. It’s community. It’s worshiping with other, praying for others, hurting with others, serving others, being involved in the lives of others.”