It’s beautiful outside, we’re off for the day, why not spend time with family? Do we really have to go to church every single Sunday? After all, we’re saved by grace, not by how much we attend church services…right?
Attending church was our family’s normal activity each Sunday. There were times, however, when we didn’t find ourselves lined in a pew, but those moments were usually reserved for holiday travel, or sickness. And remember, if sick, that also meant we were to stay home from all other activity that day as well. How many times did I hear, “If you’re well enough to go to [insert location], you’re well enough to go to church!”
Fast forward to today…
I now have my own family and pastor a local assembly. Among believers, the idea of “church” still seems positive, but some things have changed. Many people have gradually adjusted their church attendance from weekly to bi-weekly, or even monthly. Work schedules now include every day of the week. Sunday shopping is now normal activity. And probably the biggest change of all – the church is no longer the centre of the community.1
Are we missing something?
I think we may have misunderstood the concept of “attending church.” We tend to be people of extremes. Traditionally, if we missed a Sunday, it meant we were nearly “back-sliding,” and falling away from God. But the truth is – church attendance is by no means a measure of our salvation or spirituality. We could attend church our whole lives, and never experience God’s grace and love. That doesn’t mean, however, that being absent from a local church is wise. A Christian who doesn’t commit themselves to a local church, is missing some key aspects to their spiritual journey.
1. The Church is made up of Believers.
The Church is only partially present when we choose to be absent. #Church #Discipleship #BeingPresent Click To TweetThe Church is not something we attend, it’s who we are. The local assembly that we call our “home church” is not a separate identity. We, as believers, help make up the Church, and help make up the local assembly. For example, I belong to Bethel Pentecostal Church. On Sunday morning, I don’t attend Bethel, I, along with other believers, make up Bethel. If I’m missing Sunday, Bethel is missing my contribution. The Church is only partially present when we choose to be absent. The local church is not a separate identity that we chose to attend, we are the Church! (1 Corinthians 12)
2. The Church is a Family.
Sunday is like a weekly reunion of our spiritual family. We may have so many differences and unique roles; however, we’re all connected with Jesus Christ. In Christ, we are brothers and sisters and make up the Church family. I think we tend to forget this powerful connection we have to one another. When we choose to be present, we choose to grow closer as a spiritual family. (1 Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:28; 1 John 5:1)
3. The Church is Supportive of One Another.
Each time we meet together as a community of believers, we bring unity to the next level. When we feel pain, we feel pain together. When we experience joy, we experience joy together. Sometimes we need to encourage others. Other times we need to experience some encouragement ourselves. When we choose to be present, we choose to engage in this powerful relationship. (1 Corinthians 12:26)
What happens if we choose to be present?
I know many have to work, are on shift-work, are sick from time to time, and otherwise live busy lives, but sometimes we simply choose to be absent. What would happen if we couldn’t wait to come together on Sunday?
- We would experience…
…God’s personal plan for us. Together, with the help of the Church family, we would receive the encouragement we need, the strength we require, and the discipleship that will help us grow. Yes, we could experience some of that in personal devotions, but Jesus didn’t call individuals into private ministry. Jesus called and discipled 12 individuals, sent out those 12, and later sent 72 in groups of 2 (Luke 6, 9, 10). Later, in Acts, we see the Church grow in a similar way.
- The Church would experience…
…God’s unified plan as a group of believers. Church services are never about the numbers, however, God is calling us to be the spiritual family others need. Everyone has different gifts and abilities that work together in strength. How amazing would it be, if everyone attended the Sunday service with the intention of seeing the Church grow through them?
- We’ll teach those who follow us that the commitment is worth it!
If we're present, we teach the commitment to Sunday services is worth it! #Church #Discipleship Click To TweetNo matter who we are, someone is watching and learning. If we choose to be present, others will learn the commitment to join together on Sunday is completely worth it. Not only will we be able to grow together, but the Church will be alive together.
No, as Christians, we don’t HAVE to attend church. But, if we have the day off, why not spend our Sunday with our spiritual family?
Many of our church-related issues and conflicts are founded in our lack of spiritual expectations. Some may even say, “The Church of today is very negative, and not living up to this theoretical post.” The truth is, believers individually make up the Church and we can only ourselves, choose to grow.
God is calling us to rise up and BE HIS CHURCH!
Don’t miss out on becoming the Church and participating within the family of God! After all, one day all believers will be together for eternity. It might be nice if we actually knew each other.
How do you view the Church? How do you individually contribute to the body of Christ?
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|⇑1||For a detailed discussion on cultural and generational shifts: Bradley T. Noel, Pentecostalism, Secularism, and Post Christendom (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2015), 51-84.|