The facts are in: Here in the west, faithful church attendance among those who profess Christ as Savior is at an all time low.
According to a recent ABC News Poll, 83% of American citizens identify themselves as Christians. In all honesty, that surprised me. I thought the percentage would be much lower than that. What didn’t shock me was the staggering drop in percentage when it comes to the follow up question posed to those who identified themselves as Christian, “Do you regularly attend Church regularly?”. Only 51% of those who profess Christ attend church with regularity.
(Side note: If there is any surprise there, it would be how high that percentage is. I personally think the actual percentage is much, much lower as the definition of “regular” varies among various people. If the question was “Are you actively engaged and committed to a local body of believers?” and there was the threat of a jolt of electricity for dishonesty, that number would be SIGNIFICANTLY lower.)
We could go on for days trying to explain why this is the case but I’m not sure that would prove helpful. Everyone that I’ve spoken to regarding the issue has a reason. Some of those reasons seem honest, valid and well thought out and some silly, selfish and superficial. Again, we could go on for days there.
Instead, I want to give you several reasons why those who profess Jesus as Savior and Lord should attend (engage in, commit to) church. I don’t write this as a Pastor trying to drum up numbers but as a follower of Jesus Christ broken hearted over this subject.
You see, I love the local church. I really do. I am very fortunate in that I cant think of a time in my life when the church didn’t factor into my existence. Church was a big deal to my family and in turn, became a big deal to me. As I was converted, began to really grow in grace and truth and submitted to the will of God for my life, my love for the church only increased. I believe in Her. I am convinced that God does too. Has there been bumps in the road? Yes, to say the least. Are there warts? Have we been wrong? Is it possible that there have been ugly, harmful incidences that have tarnished the image of Christ that this world sees through us? Absolutely.
Does that mean professing Christians should dismiss the church? Throw the baby out with the bathwater? Give up on the body of Christ?…I couldn’t say no in a more resounding way.
Here are a few (in no way exhaustive) reasons why Christians should attend church.
1. Because God Says So
That may sound harsh but it’s not…and its true. The act of attending church is at its root, a matter of obedience.
In Hebrews 10:25, the Bible says that we should not forsake “our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near,”
Attend Church? Yes, because God says that as a Christian, I should. This isn’t a suggestion or merely a helpful hint…its cut and dry, black and white. God has revealed His will through His Word and His will is that all believers attend Church. Jesus actually taught that our love for Him will be made evident through our obedience to His commands. He has commanded that we attend Church.
2. Because We Need To Be Under the Word
It is very important that we hear the word of God. It’s important that we hear it through those who are called of God to exposit it. Gifted to communicate it. Now, I know that by the grace of God, here in the West, we have personal access to the Scriptures and we should take full advantage of that by daily studying the Word on our own. Yet, at the same time, God has called some to “be teachers, preachers, evangelist….” to help encourage, evangelize and edify the body of Christ. The faithful Shepherd will bring the Book each time the flock assembles and as Christians we should be under the Word.
“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart,” (Hebrews 4:12). The word of God, when it is preached, presents to us the truth that the Lord wants us to know. We need to hear the word of God presented to us, analyzed, and applied to our lives so that we can live better, accomplish what God desires for us, and can bring glory and honor to Him…which is our ultimate purpose.
3. Because God Has Called Us To Humility
Being humble is to be subservient. To lower oneself. While our culture certainly balks at that notion, it’s a high calling that God has placed upon the life of a Christian. 1st Peter Chapter 5 tells us to be “clothed in humility“. Committing oneself to a local Church is in a very real way, saying, “Lord, You call the shots. You are Master. You’re the boss. I’ve trashed my own agenda and submit to Yours“. On the flip side, knowing that God has called us to obedience in this matter and willfully rebelling against that smacks of pride.
4. Because We Need Each Other
Like it or not, we are interdependent. Really. We need the body of Christ.
The Bible describes the body of Christ as some being “hands”, some are “feet” some are “eyes” and some our ears. The Scriptures teach that one part of the body really cant function at full capacity without the other. We’re interdependent. No Lone Rangers. We need each other.
We need each other for instruction. God speaks through His church.
We need each other for edification. Personally, I’m more like Jesus today than I was 5 years ago, in large part due to other believers investing themselves in my life.
We need each other for accountability. The local church loves enough to call you out. That only sounds harsh to those who need to be called out.
We need each other for encouragement. In church we share in the successes and failures of others and learn how the Lord has worked in the lives of other people. In this we are encouraged.
We could go on and on here. It’s a dark, tough world. The adversary lurks about….we need each other.
5. We Set The Example For Our Children
My most fervent prayer is that my children grow to love God and accomplish His purposes for their lives. As we’ve already mentioned, loving God is made evident by obedience and the help of the Body of Christ is essential in accomplishing His purposes. In short, my children are likely to mirror me. What I love, they’ll likely love. What I’m committed to, they’ll likely be committed to. I pray they live abundant, blessed lives. That wont take place apart from submission to The Lord and His Word. So… “train a child in the way that he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from that way“. The opposite is also true. (Please go read Deuteronomy 6 for further instruction)
6. Because We Must Represent Christ Well
The Church is the representation of Christ in the world today. What I mean is, this world develops their Theology by watching ours. Their view of Jesus is what they see in His church. If I profess Jesus as Savior but live independently from His Church, what image have I given them? Is Christ uncommitted? Unwilling to do the will of His Father? Is Christ disobedient? I need to take that into consideration.
7. Because Jesus Loves His Church
I’ve heard this statement with increasing regularity over the past few years, “I love Jesus but hate the church”.
Houston, we have a problem.
You see, Jesus loves His Church. He came for His Church, He died for His Church, He defeated death, Hell and the grave for His Church and He’s coming again to receive His Church. He calls His Church His Bride. You don’t love the Groom and hate the bride. No, they are one. In the same manner, one cant truly love Jesus and despise His Church at the same time.
As a believer, I have this calling – “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by Christ”. In other words, I’m to grow in Him, become for like Him….that means as a growing Christian, I’ll love what He loves….and He loves His Church.
Friends, if you aren’t currently engaged, committed to, attending a Bible believing local assembly of believers (Church), I can tell you on the authority of Gods Word, you are living in rebellion. What we sow, we’ll reap.
I pray that God might use this little blog post to arrest your attention. Cause you to think deeply and respond to Truth by being in church tomorrow morning. If you are in the Townville area, feel free to join us at Double Springs (11:00 am). If not Double Springs, be somewhere. It matters. Eternally.
Grace and Truth,