It’s no secret that church attendance is on the decline. The research is clear. Yet, when Americans are surveyed about religion and spirituality, the overwhelming majority say they are Christians. These two facts don’t compute. Why do so many professing Christians view church as such a low priority? I think they fail to recognize that attending church is crucial to a healthy Christian life. Let’s look at some of the reasons why.
Attending church offers spiritual motivation.
A main evidence of our salvation is how we express God’s love to one another as well as to those outside of Christ. As Christians, we’re supposed, “to stimulate one another to love and good deeds…” (Hebrews 10:24). Spiritually healthy Christians work side-by-side, motivating one another to accomplish these acts of love. And a spiritually healthy church organizes ways to care for its members and to shine a light to the lost.
Now, it’s important to point out that simply attending church doesn’t guarantee good spiritual health. Yes, we need corporate worship and teaching of God’s Word. However, the expectation of Hebrews 10:24 is that believers are participants, not spectators. Motivating one another to actively participate in God’s work is an essential part of our spiritual health.
Attending church fosters spiritual consistency.
The call to motivate one another is put in the context of habitually gathering with other believers. Verse 25 tells us, “not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some…” I dare say there’s a correlation between consistent church attendance and spiritual consistency. Simply put, we’re like coals in a fire; helping one another retain heat as long as we’re together. But when a coal is separated from the others, it begins to slowly cool down.
Sadly, the local church is no longer the hub of activity for many Christians. As families are consumed with outside activities, consistent church attendance is neglected. The unspoken message children receive is that church is good but not the priority. A key component to spiritual health is gathering regularly to worship with other believers.
If we claim the name of Christ, should we not also follow His example? Even as a boy, Jesus placed great importance on being in His Father’s house; reading and discussing Scripture (Luke 2:49). This spiritual discipline was His habit, “And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read” (Luke 4:16).
Attending church provides spiritual encouragement.
Verse 25 goes on to say, “but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” One of the greatest benefits of actively participating in a local church is building relationships with other believers. As we care for one another we both give and receive spiritual encouragement.
The last part of this verse is particularly noteworthy. The closer we get to Christ’s return the more challenging it becomes to follow Him. Many believers may neglect church to avoid the stigma our society now associates with followers of Jesus Christ. Boy, do we ever need to encourage one another!
The bottom line is this: attending church is irrelevant to anyone lacking a vibrant relationship with Jesus. On the other hand, actively participating in the body of Christ reflects our love for Him, for other believers, and for the lost. It’s nearly impossible to live a healthy Christian life without the spiritual motivation, consistency, and encouragement of a local church. Where will you be this Sunday?