*I know, I know, Covid. If you are forced to stay home because of medical complications, the Lord understands. Hebrews 10:24-25 refers to willful neglect of missing church on Sunday; being forced to stay home because of medical reason does not necessarily mean you are breaking this commandment. But, if you are healthy and are just using Covid as a convenient excuse to stay home when you could be attending, you should let this post convict you*
Aside from violating Heb 10:24-25, here is what you miss when you lack faithful attendance for corporate worship each Lord’s Day:
- The benefits of preaching.
The strengthening of your faith, understanding your Bible better, the conviction of sin, and encouragement in the gospel that comes through hearing God’s Word preached by the pastor He has installed to provide oversight for your soul.
And how are they to hear without someone preaching?…So faith comes through hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ. – Rom 10:14, 17
Receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. – James 1:21
- The gift of the liturgy.
The joy of hearing God’s Word sung, prayed, and read corporately. Singing, listening, and praying together as a church is a unique blessing.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. – Col 3:16
- The joy of the sacraments and church membership.
By staying home we lose the spiritual edification of the Lord’s Supper, baptism, and the joy/responsibility of welcoming in new church members.
The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread…For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.. – 1 Cor 10:16-17, 12:13
- The fellowship of fellow church members.
Hearing them sing, seeing them worship, greeting one another, etc. Small groups are wonderful, but our small group is just a slice of the congregation. Sunday morning is the only place where the whole church is gathered together. Have you considered that your presence, your attentive listening, your singing alone may be an encouragement to the other worshippers there?
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. – Acts 2:42
- The opportunity for hospitality.
By staying home you may be robbing a newcomer walking in off the street from being greeted by a warm, smiling face. You may be missing a chance to welcome another member or new guest over for lunch. It is amazing to me how many times over the years I have heard people say that the thing that sticks out most in their minds is whether or not they felt welcome when they first walked into a church. You could be a part of someone’s testimony. It really matters.
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. – Heb 13:2
Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. – 1 Pet 4:9
Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. – Phil 4:21
- Communicating the centrality of your faith to others.
When you miss church to take the kids to soccer games or go boating with friends, you are saying to them (and to your children!): “This is more important than attending church.” On the other hand, when you make your schedule *around* corporate worship, it communicates a great deal to others. “No, Bobby won’t be able to join the traveling team this year if it means we will have to miss every other Sunday morning at our church. I know, it will jeopardize him being on the team next year, but we just can’t miss that much church.” You don’t need to be self-righteous or uppity about it. It is simply an immovable element of your family’s week, much like your kids going to school or you going to work. Who knows, your faithfulness may convict others around you and lead them to begin questioning their lack of attendance.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 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 10:24-25
- The opportunity to serve.
Many hands makes light the work. There are numerous ways we can be helping others worship on Sunday: volunteering in the nursery, helping run the sound booth, greeting people as they come in, passing out bulletins, etc. You can even serve by simply arriving early and praying for the service. When we stay home, week-in and week-out, we are saying: all of that is below me; other people can do that work. Consider: God describes each individual in the church like a member of a body. If a body has its fingers or feet severed from it, the whole body is going to be less functional (not to mention, the fingers and feet separated from the body will quickly begin to die!).
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace. – 1 Pet 4:10
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. – Phil 2:3-4
- The foretaste of heaven.
Each Lord’s day the church gathers as one assembly, praising and rejoicing in our Savior–this is what we will do in the New Heaven and New Earth. The Bible explains that the glories of New Creation are proleptically experienced now by the Church, even as we await its final consummation. Our corporate worship in Sunday is like hopping in a time machine and zooming towards the future where we get to peak into what all of eternity will look like. Our churches and worship services, humble and modest though they are, veil one of the weightiest and most glorious realities on the planet today–a picture of heaven.
But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly (Church) of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect. – Heb 12:22-23
Friends, there is so much to gain from faithful week-in and week-out attendance on Sunday morning. Of course, of course there are circumstances we can’t control or the occasional trip that requires us to miss a Sunday here or there. That isn’t what this post is referring to. What I am aiming at is to correct the casual attitude so many Christians today have towards Sunday attendance. Many Christians today assume that if they attend at least once or twice a month, they are fairly committed. Brothers, these things ought not be so!
While your Sunday morning experience likely doesn’t feel like something significant and splashy is happening, week by week the Lord is working in a thousand little ways. Like a plant grows through water, air, and sunlight, God has designed your soul to grow by certain means of grace: corporate worship is one of those means. Don’t neglect it–there is too much at risk if you do.
- Am I aware that I am commanded in Scripture to not abandon the worship gathering? (Heb 10:24-25)
- What assumptions do I bring with me to Sunday morning? Do I understand that this is both an opportunity for me to be blessed and to bless others? Do I assume that the whole service must be catered to me and my preferences?
- Am I aware that God has given me this church and these pastors for my spiritual well-being, so that I may grow and not make a shipwreck of my faith? (Eph 4:11-16)
- How do I prepare for Sunday morning? Do I get enough sleep the night before so I can pay attention well? Do I read the text the sermon is based on ahead of time? Do I pray for the Lord to serve our family and bless our church through the Sunday gathering? Do I do what I can ahead of time to make Sunday morning less chaotic?
- How do I respond after Sunday morning? Do I discuss the sermon with others? Do I pray for the Lord to apply this truth to my life? Do I seek ways to make concrete applications?
- How can I serve our church to make our corporate worship as helpful as possible for others?
- What am I communicating to my children about the importance of church by our attendance? What have I indirectly communicated to them is more important? What am I communicating to my non-Christian friends, neighbors, family members, and co-workers?
- If everyone else in our church attended and served as consistently as I did, would our church thrive? Would we be able to accomplish our mission? If not, why do I think I shouldn’t be as responsible for that?