Picture yourself going back to Jr High or High School. For some of you, that sounds painful. Don’t worry; we are not going to relive any memories.
Just pretend for a moment that it is Wednesday night and you know exactly what that means — family dinner. It’s just what your family does. Your parents really want you to be there. They say “you need to be a part of the family.” And so you go. You eat together, you spend some time together, and sometimes there’s even family business to discuss. It doesn’t matter if you want to go, you know it is what you have to do since you are a part of the family.
Okay, you can stop pretending now. Maybe that is not what your childhood was like. But I bet you’ve seen related movie scenes and you can imagine it.
Now picture yourself entering this upcoming weekend. You may not have realized it, but your family has planned a get-together, and you are expected to be there. No, it’s not your biological family. It’s your church family — your brothers and sisters in Christ. They are meeting up, spending some time together, and there is even some “family business” to discuss. Your family wants you to come… especially your Heavenly Father.
A Helpful Paradigm
Thinking of the church service in terms of a family meeting may be helpful. Hopefully, it reminds us this isn’t an optional activity that we can skip out on. It’s something we are expected to be a part of. Hebrews 10:24-25 says,
“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.”
When Hebrews was written, people were assuming they could disregard the regular church gatherings. Obviously, this should not have been the case. But neglecting church is even more detrimental now; for as the Second Advent draws near, we are in need of the encouragement our church family brings “all the more.”
We should make it to our “family meetings.”
Does That Mean EVERY WEEKEND?
Are there exceptions to when we go? Undoubtedly, yes. There are probably times when you should not be at church. If you will give everyone the flu who comes within 5 feet of you, you should probably stay home. If your children are massively feverish, you should
probably not bring them. If there is some important yearly event, maybe it makes sense to choose the event.
But the assumption is: If I can be at church, I will be!
Even with those scenarios I gave, sometimes there is still a way to make it to a different church service than you usually go to. Or if your kid’s sickness always falls on the weekend, maybe there is a kind friend who will watch your kids while you go to church. It should truly be an exception when we don’t make it to church on the weekends.
The Biggest Obstacle
The biggest hindrance to church attendance is one of the greatest inventions of the modern day. Live Stream. The fact that most people can tune into the church’s service (or listen to it later) makes it incredibly tempting to sit back on our couch and think we are “doing church.”
But let’s just state the obvious — it is not the same! It is certainly not applying any of the principles in Hebrews 10:24-25. But also think about church via live stream from a practical angle…Participating in worship through song is certainly not the same. Interacting with your church family is not the same. Even listening to the sermon online is not the same. Domestic distractions linger in abundance, and it’s hard for our minds to fully engage.
Recordings and live feeds are great when we need them. But they should be reserved for when we need them.
Shifting the Paradigm
Though the premise has been “we need to go to church,” let’s remember it should be “we get to go to church.” It is a privilege to be able to meet as a church body. Merely ask someone in a Communist or Muslim country if they would like to freely meet as we do! Church is so accessible for us that we forget it is a privilege.
When your desire to “meet together” is waning, take some moments to remember why going to church is your great privilege and joy…
Church is a joy because we love our family.
Speaking of the church body 1 Corinthians 12:26 states, “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” This passage describes a depth of love the world does not know. Jesus goes so far as to say we will be known by our love for one another (John 13:34-35). When we love each other like that, we can’t wait to be all together!
Church is a joy because we love to worship together.
The Psalms contain a theme of expectation for corporate worship. Psalm 149:1 says, “Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly of the godly!” (See also: Psalm 22:22, 25, 68:26, 89:5, 111:1). It is good and right to be together praising our great God in unison.
Church is a joy because we love to hear God’s word preached.
More than enjoying the preaching, we want to get as much out of it as we can (which happens best when you are at church). As Christians who want to obey God, we love hearing his word explained in such a way that we can be “doers” of God’s word (James 1:22). When the preacher takes the truth he’s studied and then delivers it to God’s people, we don’t want to miss out!
More could be said, but suffice it to say, it’s worth getting to church this weekend!… And every weekend after.
You Choose Your Motivation
In one sense we can recall the dynamics of an earthly family, and thus admit, “it doesn’t really matter if you want to go, you know it is what you need to do since you are a part of the family.”
But in another sense, it is our great privilege and joy to be among God’s people, worshipping with God’s people, ingesting God’s word together, and just being a part of the family.
Either way, church is coming up – and you need to be there!