Recently I had the opportunity to teach a lesson at church to a group of students about why we should go to church. Honestly, I learned more from preparing the lesson than they probably did with me giving it. Needless to say, it is something that has really hit home with me, and I feel obligated to share.
If you asked the average church goer why they go to church, they most likely will give an answer such as “to worship God”. That is a biblical answer and truth, but do we really believe that or do we just know the “right” answer? I believe that most people go to church because they have been taught that it is right but in their heart they don’t really know why. To them, it’s just what “good people” do. So, when calamity comes, a disagreement occurs, hypocrisy happens, or something makes them question God, they stop going to church altogether. They have decided that they don’t “want” to go anymore. Our society is so “me” focused that we decide whether or not we go to church on our terms and not on God’s terms.
So what does God have to say in the Bible about “going to church” or “meeting together with other believers”?
1- Demonstrates Our Love/Worship to God – Talk is cheap to us, and even to God. He wants us to demonstrate our love and devotion to Him. One of the ways we can do that is to go to church. It’s a visible way to show our love for God to Him and also to others. It provides a time when believers can assemble together and bring Him an offering of praise, thanks, and honor TOGETHER. In Psalm 22:22 (NIV), David says “I will declare Your Name to my people; in the assembly I will praise You.” When we worship with others, it publically shows our faith, and at the same time, it strengthens our faith so we can be a witness outside the doors of the church to those who are lost and don’t know God yet.
2- Provides Fellowship with Other Believers – In Heb 10:24-26 (NIV) it tells us “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day [of Christ’s Return] approaching.” Here, we are reminded that we are to motivate and encourage one another during our meeting together. This is a responsibility charged to every believer, not just the pastor or church leadership. It does matter that you are there! You are to be an encourager for someone else. Look for the opportunity to encourage (and not tear down!). The Bible also makes it clear that a right relationship with God requires fellowship with God AND fellowship with other believers. It is not possible to love God and refuse to love your brothers and sisters in Christ. So, in order to have a right relationship with God, we must have fellowship with other believers (1 John 1:7).
3- Builds Up Our Spiritual Muscles – Just like going to the gym provides us the opportunity to exercise our physical muscles, going to church allows us to exercise our spiritual muscles. When we hear the Word of God preached/taught, it builds up our faith (Romans 10:17 – “…faith comes from hearing the message…”) Additionally, when 2 or more agree in prayer, there is combined strength and special favor with God (Matt 18:19 – “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.”) Finally, there is a special visitation from God when two or more gather in the name of Jesus (Matt 18:20 – “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”) It is clear that there are greater spiritual gains together than individually!