One of the signs that the United States has drifted from its christian roots is declining church attendance. In fact, in many cases there are plenty of people who feel comfortable calling themselves Christian and yet attend church less than 10 times a year. It amazes me, to see people who claim to know God, or claim to be disciples separate themselves from the local church. I know that there are various factors that keep people from attending a local church or worshipping on Sunday, or Saturday; however for most people they simply want to be free of having to attend a specific church. For many people their refusal to regularly attend church is simply, sin. It is a sin to not attend church regularly when a healthy church is reasonably accessible.
Scripture is replete with evidence that worship should be done in a community setting. When God called Abraham, he just didn’t call Abraham alone, he called his family also. When God saved his people from Egypt, he didn’t just save Moses, he saved a community, he implemented a leadership structure, and a system of discipline to preserve and cultivate holiness and dedication. Except in rare cases where believers were forced into isolation due to persecution, the idea of a lone believer by cholce was extremely rare. In fact you find that worship within the community was a condition of being in the community. Exodus 31:14, Leviticus 17:8-9, Numbers 9:13, Numbers 15:22-31. Even Jesus hints of the importance of being in the faith community, and submitting to its laws. Those who reject the authority and structure of the community are considered the same as unbelievers. Matthew 18:15-17.
One of the reasons that people failed to put their trust in Jesus was due to the social pressure of being excluded from the local community because of the pressure that certain synagogue rulers were placing on them. Ironically, what Jesus was beginning to do was to separate to himself a new community; one that believed The Word over tradition.
There will be times when you have to leave a place of worship due to the lack of solid gospel centered teaching. Sometimes you may have to leave your church due to false doctrine. Many cults have dangerous views regarding the deity of Christ. If you are attending a Kingdom Hall or Mormon church you may want to flee even if that means leaving your community. Jesus often invited those who were rejected by their traditional communities to follow him because their communities did not view him correctly. However, even when leaving due to doctrinal differences often when he calls you to leave a church, it is for the purposes of finding a new community of faith. It is incumbent on a believer to actively seek and pray for God to identify other believers who hold similar convictions.
The problem however with some believers is that they walk away from good biblically sound churches over secondary or tertiary issues. We are not to be spiritual snobs, but we are to seek to edify each other in the Lord.
The biggest command in the Bible is to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, all of our strength and all of our mind. Often when we people fail to attend church they fail to use that time even if it is at home to focus their energy and strength on serving him.
I understand that many people stop attending church due to abuse or hurt in the past by their churches, or their pastors. I understand that God will give you a time to heal and rest, but healing and rest does not come through not attending church at all. Sometimes you can attend a new church and then get frightened by things that are similar to a previous church. That is natural reaction, but make sure you investigate before you immerse yourself in a new place. Continue to listen to the word, continue to pray, and continue to find brothers and or sisters who will help you in the process.
Here are 5 things that occur when you do not attend church regularly.
1. When you fail to attend church, you reject God’s plan for your spiritual development
Ephesians 4 tells us that God gifted the church for the development of his people. Failure to attend church is a rejection of God’s training program for you. When you regularly fail to fellowship with other believers in community you communicate that your plans are better or more important than God’s plan for you. In fact when you regularly miss church you break the first four commandments and expose yourself to the enemy.
2. When you fail to attend church you rob God and the church of your service, times, money and gifts.
The Bible asks will a man rob God. Every weekend millions rob God of his rightful worship, of his money, and of his joy in seeing his children unite. You rob God of his ability to use you. God has called us to good works, and many of those works are done through a local church.
3. When you fail to attend a local church regularly you reject the spiritual leaders God has placed to instruct you in his Word.
Sometimes when you are a parent you leave your older siblings in charge. God has given us care takers and when we fail to submit to their biblical authority, we in turn reject God. I use the word “biblical” because there are many pastors who abuse their authority, or use their own word instead of scripture. However when our leaders are operating under biblical mandates it is our duty to honor and submit to them as God has charged them to shepherd you.
4. When you fail to attend church regularly you reject the mandate in Hebrews 10:25 and will fall away
25not forsaking 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.
Even in the early church there were people who for various reasons had stopped fellowshipping. Yet the author states that with the return of Christ in view we should be more motivated to assemble together in worship. Later on he even insinuates that those same people who miss church are living in willful sin and in danger of falling away. In many communities church attendance is the lifeblood for spiritual health. Darkness is so pervasive and weighty, that worshipping with a community is the only way for spiritual survival. Believers would not dare miss communal worship, as they knew they could fall away due to the sheer spiritual attack.
5.When you fail to attend church regularly you dim the light of God and strengthen Satan’s grip on your community.
The Church is the barracks. It is the local assembly where God uses his leaders to implement their local assignments. When the soldiers fail to receive their assignments, the enemy benefits. Satan is running amok in our country, because God’s people have stopped listening and have no idea how to take back territory from the enemy.
5 things to do if you are churchless.
1. Make sure that even if you do not attend a local church you are actively reading the scriptures and doing family worship
2. Pray Pray Pray.
3. Research and investigate the local churches in your area
4. Find at least one other believer who can pray for you and hold you accountable.
5. Continue listening to sermons, continue sharing with someone what God is ministering to you and make a realistic list of what you expect out of a church, and compare that to biblical expectations.
I understand that some people due to health, lack of access to a church have challenges in attending church regularly. However for most people even, those with those issues; regular church attendance is critical for our spiritual health and survival. Just listening to a sermon, or even dropping in on Sunday is not enough. We need deep fellowship. Acts 29 is a good site if you want to find healthy churches. Join a small group, join a prayer group. Email me if you need some help. I’m praying for you.