The average attendance for church goers where we live is right around two times per month.
Hear me out, this note is not about improving the ol’ church stat-sheet. Instead, it is about increasing appreciation for gathering with the church, which I admit has a funny way of increasing church attendance. ;) We all need this! So, I wanted to remind us why gathering with the church is so very wonderful and so very important. First, let me remind us of our goal together, found most clearly in Ephesians 4…
“He gave [spiritual leaders] in order to equipthe saintsfor the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ until we all attain to the unityof the faith and the knowledgeof the Son of God, to maturemanhood, to the measureof the stature of the fullness of Christ…” - Ephesians 4:11-13
Gathering with the church is critical for our spiritual growth.
We do not grow spiritually in isolation, and we do not grow best outside of the context of Christ’s church. The first church, after so many were saved so suddenly couldn’t get enough of each other – meeting, eating, and praying together every day for a while (Acts 2). For a stretch, Paul taught daily in the temple courts and in homes (Acts 5). Listen, I know it’s not the time of the book of Acts, but can we not be inspired by their love for one another, their zeal for more understanding and their Gospel-urgency? I think we can. I get it, churches can’t be together 24/7; that’s either cultic or called monasticism. (Both are bad alternatives.) We have to scatter in order to be salt and light, witnesses for Christ in our world. We must go out! That said, may we be eager to return together to serve one-anther and to be served, to encourage one-another and to be encouraged. The Christian literally cannot perform the majority of his Christian duties if he or she isn’t gathering. The more we gather, the more we are able to pray, confess, encourage and sing together as we are told. The more we gather, the better our spiritual leaders are able to teach, protect and encourage us. After all, we are all members of one Body; who truly find joy in our oneness in Christ.
Below is the classic text where the Christian is forbidden to “miss church.” But notice why…
“…Let us hold fast the confessionof our hopewithout wavering, for he who promised is faithful.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 (the return of Christ) drawing near. – Hebrews 10:23-25
All of us need to be encouraged and stirred up as we fight the good fight of faith and daily seek to “hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering.” By implication, we will inevitably waver without the sanctifying influence of Christ’s church. Christ, by His Spirit and His Body (the church), keeps us abiding in Him, where we grow safely and soundly.
Our love for Christ leads to a love for His Bride and a desire that our lives to be conformed to His image – to express both, we must gather!