When we have worked Monday through Friday and then used Saturday to catch up on errands and housework, it is easy to make excuses to get out of going to Church on Sunday morning. What does it matter anyway? we may find ourselves reasoning. I can just turn on the television and listen to a good sermon, we justify.
But is hearing a good sermon the only purpose for going to church? That is a good question. The Bible is the Word of God, so we certainly want to heed any advice it gives us on the subject.
Actually the Bible does teach us the importance of gathering together as believers. In Hebrews 10:25 (NLT) we read, “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near.”
So it is God’s desire that we meet together. The verse quoted above even gives two reasons for doing so. The first being to encourage one another, and the second is to warn each other.
It is interesting to note that we are not just going to church to take in something. We are going to give to our fellow believers in Christ. One element of the giving is positive, the other is correction. To warn each other speaks of accountability. There are times when we are to warn our fellow believers about unhealthy spiritual behavior. In the same respect, we are benefiting from the encouragement and loving correction of our church family.
On the encouragement side of things, let us look up one verse at Hebrews 10:24. In what ways are we to encourage one another? This verse (Hebrews 10:24 NLT) says, “Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds.”
So when we are together, we have an agenda. As we learn from the Word of God through good Bible teaching, we can put our heads together to find ideas how to make this teaching practical. We can encourage our brothers and sisters to put their God given talents to work. And likewise, we will be encouraged to do the same.
Perhaps the reason some people do not have a desire to go to church is because they have never experienced a fellowship of this kind. Perhaps they go to church once a week and leave unnoticed. They do not get involved in any activities in the church, so they do not get to know anyone.
I attended a large church at one time. It was a good church, and I often encouraged others to attend. One of the things I often heard was, That church is too big for me. I would respond, Yes, it is a big church, and you may not get to know everyone. That is why it is vitally important to be involved in a small group within the church. You could join a Sunday School class or get involved in a mid-week Bible study. In these small groups, friendships are often formed that will last a lifetime. In difficult times, you will be able to serve one another and pray for one another.
I attended another church that truly modeled Hebrews 10:24 when it said to encourage one another to outbursts of love. The women in the church had a sewing circle. They would get together and make lap quilts for the nursing home. They loved working together on this project.
When my husband and I got married, we were on a tight budget. These ladies helped coordinate our wedding. My husband supplied the food for the rehearsal dinner; they decorated, prepared and served a beautiful candlelight dinner. Their husbands were working right along side of them. After the dinner, they tore down and set up for our reception. The ladies of the church each prepared a special finger food. With the wedding cake, grooms cake, and punch, it was a beautiful reception.
One time when I was pregnant with our second child, we returned to the States for the delivery. They asked if we would need housing. Since we had sold our house when we left the States, we did. We gave them the specifics on what we could spend on rent and what furniture we would need for them to rent. They went to work. They found us a beautiful little place. When we came in, it was completely furnished. Food, they provided, was in the pantry. The lights and telephone were hooked up, and the beds were made. I cannot tell you how touched we were. But, that is not the end of the story.
We had to go to some meetings out of town. While we were gone, our church called us. They lightheartedly said, There is a problem with the house. Your landlord is being difficult. If we keep you here, we think there will be problems in the future. She seems to be disturbed emotionally or something. But do not worry, we have found another house for you.
When we came home a week or so later, they had completely moved everything to the new house. They had closed out all the utilities on the first house, and they had arranged to have all the utilities at the new house turned on before our return. We walked into a perfectly set up house once again.
Do you think we dread going to this church when we are home? Absolutely not! They are our family and partners in ministry. And the way that they have served us has spurred us on to good works. When my African friend needed to move into a new house, I found it a joy to go in, paint and help him fix up his new place. I felt like, in a small way, I was giving back.
In a family, we all have our chores to keep the house running smoothly. It is no different in our church family. In I Corinthians 12, the Bible describes the church as a body. The body has many different parts. Each of these parts has a significant purpose. If one part is not functioning properly, gets cut off, or is maimed in some way, the whole body will suffer greatly.
May we each faithfully serve in our churches. We are all needed. We do not want the body of Christ to be handicapped because we are not contributing our part. We need each other, so that, we can accomplish the tasks which Christ desires us to achieve.