Why Missing Church Hurts Christians and the Church

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

Does the Bible say we need to attend church? Is church attendance essential to one’s walk with Christ?

Questions About Church

Does the Bible say that we need to attend church? Is it okay for a Christian to not attend church? With so many TV and Internet evangelists, can they replace the local church? Is the local church irrelevant in this modern day and age? Is church membership essential to one’s walk in Christ and to a person‘s salvation?

Neglecting the Assembly

Does the Bible say we need to attend church? Is church attendance essential to one’s walk with Christ? Read what the writer of Hebrews clearly says: “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works” (Heb 10:24) so how can the church ensure we are stirring up one another to love and good works? It is by “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Heb 10:24). It would prove very difficult, if not impossible “to stir up one another to love and good works” if we are sitting at home and watching a TV or an Internet preacher. Hebrews 13:7 is an impossible command for the “lone ranger” sitting at home when we’re commanded to “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.” You cannot imitate someone’s faith you do not see in person.

The church is not a building, but a building is necessary to hold the church.

Church Offices

Paul writes in Ephesians 4:11-12 that “Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.” Again, it’s near impossible to build up the body of Christ if the members are scattered. If you read the entire New Testament, there is not one single lone-ranger Christian. Rather, you will read where the apostles mention the church. The epistles never, ever address single, solitary Christians about their walk in faith, but always congregations. Paul mentions the gifts of the Spirit in I Corinthians chapter 12 and includes a spirit of wisdom, knowledge, service, and so on, but members cannot exercise their gifts apart from the Body.  Pastors and teachers are useless if the Body of Christ doesn’t come together. The church is not a building, but a building is necessary to hold the church.

Safety in the Fold

John 10:11-18 mentions the Parable of the Good Shepherd. During this time, the shepherds would lie down at the gate and kept the sheep inside the pen because outside the sheep pen there were ravenous wolves, so there was protection only inside the sheepfold. And sheep are virtually defenseless. They can’t defend themselves and they’re not very fast, so any sheep outside of the sheepfold were completely helpless and vulnerable. The Apostle Peter tells pastors to “shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight” (1 Pet 5:2a). Some who do not attend church have told me they love God but they can’t be around other Christians or in a church, so they are saying, “God I love You, but I can’t stand to be around your children.” As a father myself, I’d not be very happy with your telling me, “We love you, but can’t stand to be around your children.”

The Body of Christ

Romans 12:4-5 provides clear evidence that the church consists of many members, “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” This shows that we belong to one another; literally connected to one another. Scripture reveals that “the body does not consist of one member but of many” (1 Cor 12:14). God Himself chooses the “body” parts for the church and “God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose” (Rom 12:18). I do not have the gift of singing but I’m glad others do in our church.

Missing Members

It would be a strange body that had an arm but no foot, or a body that had a hand but no eye. What a dysfunctional body that would be, and the Body of Christ is hurt when members are missing! No individual member of the Body is effective, alone at home. Unless a member is attached to the Body, it is rendered nearly useless. The eye cannot say that it doesn’t need the hand, nor the foot says I have no need for the ear. This means “you are the body of Christ and individually members of it” (1 Cor 12:27). Jesus Himself is the vine we must abide in. What is not growing is dying. Our Lord said, “If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned” (John 15:6). A hand is a beautiful thing…until you see one lying on the sidewalk! And a hand detached from the body will die and turn gang green.

Church Leadership

Paul also addresses those who are in authority in the church when he writes, “We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves” (I Thess 5:12-13). These leaders include the pastors, the elders, the deacons, and Sunday school teachers, but it is impossible to admonish the church leadership if you are sitting at home on the couch watching a TV evangelist or listening to one on the radio or Internet. God has placed each one of us in the Body of Christ as it pleases Him and not where it pleases us. God did not place these members outside of the Body (the church) nor did He intend for each member to be in single, individual homes because the members cannot function properly detached from one another anymore than a foot detached from the leg can still take steps.

Jesus Builds His Church

Jesus said that He will build His church (Matt. 16:18) and He has. He also said the gates of hell (death) will not prevail against it. Neither will people who say they hate the church or think the church is useless today. Jesus is God and He does not change and His church was built and nothing can stop it. Jesus would not build a church only to have its members scatter everywhere. If you believe that church attendance is optional, then you do not understand scripture. Or you’ve rationalized your forsaking the assembling of the Body of Christ. Jesus will come again someday and take away the church. He has a great feast prepared for the church which is described as a bride.

The Wedding Feast

There will be the great marriage feast of the church to the Lamb of God. He does not marry a single, solitaire member. The whole church is the bride of Christ. He marries the church and then they rejoice at the wedding feast and for all eternity. If you fail to attend a Bible believing church and you are born-again Christian, the Lord may chasten you and correct you since He chastens every one of His children (Heb. 12:6). I pray you already have a Bible believing church where the Word of God is taught, where Christ is the center of worship, and where you can become an active part of the Body of Christ…or that you find one if you don’t have one now. Brothers and sisters let us not be forsaking the assembling of ourselves, as is the manner of some.

Conclusion

The word “turn” is closely related to repentance, which means to turn away from our sins and turn to God, but turning away from sin is not the precise definition. Repentance is “to change one’s mind,” but thankfully, it is God Who changes the mind or heart (2 Cor 5:17). If God does not change the heart, that heart will never turn to God, so we know God grants repentance (2 Tim 2:25), but true repentance will be visible displayed by deeds (Acts 26:20). Have you trusted in the Savior? I plead with you to do so today, while it’s still called “Today” (2 Cor 6:2). Tomorrow may be too late, and then you face God’s eternal judgment (Rev 20:12-15). Something we should never wish for anyone (Rev 21:8).

Here is some related reading for you: How to Find a Bible-Believing Church

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.



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