In a time where the level of commitment to church has decreased, there seems to be a lack of understanding why we should make church a priority. I can remember growing up and going to church any time the doors were open. We did not have any extracurricular activities planned on Wednesdays or Sundays and we made church the priority each of those days. Today, in all honesty, church attendance has turned into to a “I will go unless I have something else to do” mentality. I awoke one day and had this simple thought; “why do people not understand how important their church involvement is?” I know that there are many who are consistent in their commitment, but there are also many who do not fully grasp that their attendance is not just important to themselves but also very important to their church.
When the idea to write this blog came to mind I thought I would just write a Biblical foundation for attending church. There are many scriptures that lead us into an understanding of God’s design for our commitment to a local church. Without research I can quickly point to the church in Acts devoting themselves to teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayer (Acts 2:42). Most Christians could possibly also point to Hebrews 10:24-25 as we are commanded to not forsake meeting together to “stir up one another to love and good works”. There are many more examples and commandments in scripture that teach us to the importance of being together as a church family.
However, I’m going to break from the norm. While there may be scripture leading us to this end, there are also many other reasons why your church attendance matters. Although this is not an exhaustive list, or even a Biblical approach (don’t tell my seminary professors), I want to touch on a few reasons why your church attendance matters in every possible opportunity.
Disclaimer: These few reasons are specifically geared to enlighten those who are already church attendees. There are a billion and one reasons why you should be part of a church.
1. Your church attendance matters because your church needs you and your gifts.
The Bible is very clear about gifts. First, every gift comes from God (James 1:17). Secondly, we read in Romans 12:6 that our gifts differ (“Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them”). So why does your church need you? It is because you have been given gifts that perhaps no one or few others in your church may have been given and you must be committed to sharing those gifts in your local church.
How about your gift of teaching? Your church needs those who have been given the gift of teaching because your church needs gifted teachers. How about your gift of hospitality? Your church needs you because you possess the very gift that may be the difference when someone walks in the door for the first time. I could go on and on about this reality but I think it’s pretty simple, your church needs you because you have been given gifts that are intended to be used in the church and your church needs you to exercise your gifts for the ministry and furthering of the Kingdom.
2. Your church attendance matters because it encourages your leaders and pastoral staff.
I understand this very well because I am currently a pastor. Many people put in many hours to be prepared each time the church meets together. Your small group leader spends time studying and preparing for your small group time (we recently had a retired gentleman at our church who studied four hours each day six days a week in preparation for his lesson on Sunday morning). The pastor you listen to each week likely spent anywhere between 18-35 hours of his week preparing to proclaim God’s perfect Word from behind your church’s pulpit.
Your student pastor spends hours on end loving your kids, going to their ballgames, answering text messages/phone calls and planning/executing the different events that are intended to attract the lost and strengthen the found in your community. The coffee you drank before and after service? A member of the hospitality team arrived at church very early to make sure it was ready for you when you walked in the door. The musicians leading you in worship? They spent at least one to two hours practicing one week-day evening and then practiced again that morning while you were still sleeping, eating breakfast or getting ready for church. I won’t even go into the depth of time, energy and commitment that your Children’s Pastor puts into their ministry each week. At the church I serve it is astounding how hard this ministry works.
You see, when you are not at church, the work that goes into providing the best opportunity for you and your family to grow in your faith, worship your God, strengthen your Biblical community and be encouraged by your faith family is not being fulfilled to its intentions. And, speaking from experience, this can be discouraging for those who care enough about your faith, your family and your church to put in the needed work.
Disclaimer: The serving that these aforementioned leaders and pastors do is not validated by your attendance. Every bit of sweat, time and prayers spent are because these men and women desire to glorify God with their efforts. However, many people undervalue how encouraging and uplifting they are with their presence.
3. Your church attendance matters because it is a weekly reminder of purpose and place.
It is easy to get caught up in our daily routines. The continual obligations found in work, kids, homes, and other duties can cause us think we are living very mundane lives. Church is a place where we are reminded of the bigness of our God and the purpose He has given to our lives. Church is a place where we are prompted to remember the role we play in the engine of God’s Kingdom and that our calling is to give our gifts, talents, time and resources (yes, even our financial resources) to do the work we are designed to do.
So why does your church attendance matter? Because without being in church we can lose focus and energy to the do the very thing we are designed to do. Without being in church we are prone to continue to live life without understanding purpose. We get stuck in ruts and have a hard time pulling ourselves out of them. However, consistently making church a priority allows us an opportunity to take part in something that is much bigger and more important than ourselves. It is a weekly reminder that God is sufficient, the church is your family, and your life has purpose and meaning much greater than what we often believe.
4. Your church attendance matters because it reminds you of the things you have seen or experienced together as a church family.
Do you have a friend that though you have been apart for months, or even years, when you reconnect you are reminded of why you have been friends for so long? You are reminded of the things you have in common and the memories you share together. There is this moment of remembrance which takes place when you come together with your friend again. It’s this “I remember exactly how this was and I love being part of it” feeling that happens. I personally experience it when I am back in my hometown and around the friends I had growing up. It’s a reminder of great times in the past, of those who I know who I will always be able to count on, and of the relationships that I know will last a lifetime.
Being in church is not much different. I love being in church looking around and seeing the kid who I counseled about accepting Jesus at VBS, seeing the lady who I led to the Lord after service one day, seeing the teenager who called me while on a mission trip to tell me he had given his life to Jesus, talking to the folks I shared a mission trip with, and seeing people who have walked in alone and in despair and found both faith and family. Walking into church on both Sunday and Wednesday are simple reminders that that this is my family, that we have had some great times together and that we have plenty more to experience together.
Luke Harper resides in Bartlett, Tennessee with his wife, Elizabeth, and their daughter, Hallie Ruth. He has the honor of being the Groups & Connections Pastor at Bartlett Baptist Church (bartlettbaptist.org). He holds a Master of Divinty from Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Memphis, TN as well as a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Management from John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Arkansas. His passions in life consist of his family, serving the local church, reading, and the pursuit of exegetical excellence in expository preaching.