by: Matthew Mouser
One of the most impactful statements regarding service within the local bodies of believers came in a Vision Cast Sunday from the pastor I served under in Virginia, whose name is Brandon. He challenged the congregation to be active in the ways that they served in the church rather than just sitting in a pew each week:
“I want you to pick out three ways to serve based on the gifting that God has placed in your life. Three may seem like a lot but one of them has already been picked for you merely based on your attendance today: attending worship on Sundays.”
There is a thought among some who have been hurt by the church or who have contrived reasons as to not go to church that they do not have to go to church to follow Jesus. This seems like an attractive line of thinking for anyone who doesn’t want to get out of bed, put on their “Sunday’s Best,” and make it to church. While there are some legitimate excuses for not attending Sunday Worship, most often the reason behind the excuse is only backed up by personal preference, and fails to give God the honor of which He is worthy.
If you’ve read this far, you may still be asking, “What does God’s Word say about church attendance?” I’m glad that you’re asking that very question. Hebrews 10:24-25 addresses church attendance with a powerful reminder:
“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.”
Based on what the author of Hebrews is urging the recipients of this letter to do, I want to point to five people that you will encourage and stir up merely based on your church attendance.
Those you sit near.
Every church I have ever attended participates in congregational singing. Whether you can carry a tune in a bucket or not, your involvement in the singing of praise to God will be a source of encouragement to those around you. When the people of God band together and proclaim biblical truths about who God is and His promises, it is a good thing. And yes, I’m aware that this post is specifically pointing at church attendance, but it is helpful to remember that you cannot take part in Lord’s Day worship if you are not in the building.
Those you interact with.
It is all too tempting, especially when attending a church with higher attendance, to get in after the service starts and duck out as soon as the final amen is sounded. Think of the wonderful conversations that take place in the hallways between Sunday School and the worship gathering, in the parking lot following service, and around a cup of coffee prior to any of these events beginning. These conversations are particularly beneficial when the gospel is the centerpoint. I’m not condemning discussion over Saturday’s ballgames, but when the people of God place a focus on what God is doing in them and through them, a divine stirring up takes place. It is in these conversations that love between brothers and sisters in Christ is sparked. It is because of a word of testimony that good works are provoked. But again, these sweet moments are not possible if the threshold of the house of God is never crossed.
Those who don’t attend but know you are.
On this point, you’ll need to look back at the text, specifically at the end of verse 25. “…all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Those who fail to attend will see your belief that the return of Christ is one day sooner. We gather with the saints because God is worthy of our praise but we also do so because we know that His word promises difficulty in the days leading up to Christ’s return. In regularly gathering with God’s people, you subtly confess with your presence that you believe He is coming again. Yet again, your presence will not be observed if you’re not there.
While your pastor does not faithfully serve so that people will come, it is a great source of encouragement to look out over a group of engaged hearers who are hungry to hear from the Word. Though I can’t speak for other pastors, I know that I am stirred up when there are people in the pews. There is something greatly moving about hearing a crowd proclaim together,
“Prone to wander, Lord I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, Lord, take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above”
Now, while it is the same gospel that is proclaimed, there is a significant difference between hearing the audio of a sermon via podcast or livestream and being there in person. The amen of agreement from across the sanctuary is more clearly felt. The work that has gone into preparation is far more noticeable. Your attendance in church matters to your pastor because it shows him that you are in need of the church and have something to give the body.
You’ll never know what you have missed out on when you are absent from church. Each and every time God’s Word is opened, the Lord has a nourishing morsel for us. We’ll never know the encouraging word that may be shared with you. There ought to be a great joy within the Christian when anticipates worshiping with God’s people. David said it well in Psalm 122:1.
I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord!”
If the mere mention of entering the church and worshiping with the saints brings you joy, what greater satisfaction will be had when this divine meeting takes place? We certainly don’t do it for ourselves as the affection of our worship is the Lord, but we will absolutely benefit when we take Hebrews 10 to heart. As we consider church attendance, let’s soften our hearts and allow these thoughts to urge your desire to stir up the saints to love and good works with your presence.