by. Dr. Ken Gentry
How often do we hear professing Christians shrug off church attendance by saying, “I can worship at home!” The perfect response to such a remark is simple: “But do you?” Or, if you stumble upon a rare individual who may actually strive to worship at home, you may ask him: “When did you last take the Lord’s Supper at home?”
Many who profess to be Christians today know too little of devoted commitment to Christ. A major aspect of genuine devotion to Christ involves our attending, worshiping in, and serving through the local church. In fact, church membership and attendance is a biblical obligation for all who profess the name of Christ. We may discern this obligation on several grounds.
1. The Lord Jesus Establishes the Church
Since Christ establishes the Church it is a part of His plan for His people. Matthew 16:18 says: “I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” Shall we neglect that which Christ our Savior creates as His own possession, and which is designed for the purpose of disestablishing Satan? The child of Satan’s kingdom is consistent in avoiding church, for Satan’s kingdom is threatened by its presence! But we who claim to be Christians must encourage the building up of the Church, not the neglect of it.
2. The Lord Jesus Died for His Church.
Acts 20:29 says: “Feed the Church of God which He has purchased with His own blood.” The context shows that Paul is speaking to elders of a local church (vv. 17-18). Ephesians 5:25 says: “Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for it.” Now think seriously: The very Church which Christ is building in history is the one for which He suffered and died. What greater reasons to attend could there be? How may we deem the Church an inconsequential thing when Christ our Lord and Savior shed His blood for it?
3. The Church is the Center for Christian fellowship
Acts 2:42 says: “And they continued steadfastly in the Apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in the breaking of bread and in prayer.” Shall we forsake the Apostles’ doctrine? their sacraments (breaking of bread)? or prayer? Then, how can we neglect their example of fellowship among the saints? Their doctrine urges church attendance. The sacrament of “the breaking of bread” is offered only at church. Prayer may be at home, to be sure. But it is also a vital aspect of public, corporate worship. The Lord’s Prayer speaks in the plural: “Forgive us” and “Lead us.” It obviously was designed for corporate use, use within the context of the local church. Clearly, the Apostles have left us an example to follow regarding Christian fellowship. Their example should motivate us to join in fellowship with fellow believers in Christ.
4. Church Attendance Is Essential for Spiritual Nourishment
Christ establishes His Church in the world for a number of reasons. One is to be an essential structure for learning the Word of God. Ephesians 4:11-14 teaches that the Church works for the “perfecting of the saints” so that believers might not be “tossed to and fro…by every wind of doctrine.” To absent oneself without providential cause from the church is to free oneself from an anchor in a time of storm. The church is where Paul intended Timothy to be faithful in his ministry, his giving “attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” (1 Tim. 4:13). All believers need to attend church to hear, to be exhorted, and to learn from God’s Word.