I was sitting here at my desk this morning and thinking about all that happened Sunday and what God has been doing here at SDC. I was reading Hebrews 10 and came across verse 25 that says, “not forsaking our own assembling together, as the custom of some is, but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as we see the day drawing near.” Now no doubt you have heard this verse many times in church when the attendance is low, but the truth is there is a great deal of power in this verse. Now I know that there are a lot of people that think that church attendance is no big deal and that as long as they attempt that everything is fine. The truth is attending church is one of the great things that we have; it is a freedom that God has granted us and one that strengthens us and others around us. Let me explain.
Years ago church attendance was not near the issue that it is in today’s church. I mean, for the most part, people would come to a church service anytime because there was very little else to do in those days. I mean there were not many things that competed for the time of people. The church was the center of the community and therefore the center of most people’s lives. The church was not only a place where they received the Word of God, but the church was a place where they engaged with their community. The church was the hub of the community, and anytime the church was open people would desire to be in attendance. The sad truth is the church is no longer the hub of the community in today’s western culture. The church is not the center of most people’s lives, and social media has become the place where we engage the community, and we never even have to get dressed to do it. With the shift more and more people, even “church people,” fail to see the importance of attending church faithfully. Many believe if they come a time or two during a month that they are doing a great job and have completed the requirements of their faith, but is that really what the writer means when he states that we should not forsake assemble? I mean what are the benefits of coming to church faithfully?
First, notice that the writer says that we can “exhort one another.” There is no place where a person can be encouraged like the house of God. When we come together as the family of God, it is like walking into a place where you belong, a place where you are loved and where people genuinely want you to be there. The church is a place where people connect. The true church is not about the building or the programs that are going on. The true church is not about the talent or the money that gets collected, but the true church is about the people. The true church is about making connections with other people and with God every time we come together. Now I know there are some that are saying “I can connect with God at home,” and though that is true, there is nothing like connecting with God in a community of believers that have come together to worship God. Life was meant to be live out together. As the church collectively begins to worship God, an altar of praise is built that allows the glory of God to rest upon it and at that moment the church is transported into what Paul calls “heavenly places.” The moving of the Spirit is what encourages every believer and reveals Jesus to every sinner. By being at church, you become apart of that collective community, and you reap the benefits of the presence of God. Corporate worship is something that can only happen when the church comes together.
Not only does coming to church help you but also by coming you help others. I know you think what is me being at church have to do with the glory of God? My answer is it has a lot to do with it. Like every believer when you come together with others and begin to do service to God, you help create an atmosphere of worship, and this is the atmosphere that God inhabits, and therefore it changes lives. You never know when someone is watching you and they respond because of your faith and your praise. Maybe God wants to use you in a Spiritual gift, and you being at church enable Him to do something through you. , someone, you invited shows up, and this is the opportunity they need and you being there helps them come to Jesus. You do not come to church just to be encouraged, but you come to church to encourage others and you are needed. Any of you that have been in church for any length of time knows that when the house is full people are more likely to worship with greater passion. You being at church helps others.
Second, coming to church helps you to grow in your faith. I know you can read your bible and learn and you can watch Christian TV or the internet and get some good teaching, but there is nothing like being in a physical place learning with other believers. Discipleship is a communal thing, which means that it is accomplished best within a group setting. The church is a great place for each of us to grow in our faith as we live out our faith with other people that are on the same journey with us. By discussing the Bible and discussing issues that we have it brings us into a deeper understanding of the Word of God, which helps us to grow in our faith. There is no place like church for us to grow. What we learn at church confirms what God has been sharing with us in our time with Him.
Lastly, the church is a place where you can use the gifts that God has given to you to help others. The church is the perfect place to share what God has given to you so that it can help others change their life. Most people want to help other people, but many times they do not know where to get started, and the church is the place. Being a part of the church means that you are apart of something that is much larger than you. You are apart of a family that is all ways multiplying.
Now I know there are all ways the reasons that people have to miss church. Work, sickness or vacation all come into play during the year but let me encourage you to make sure that you place an importance on attending church. If you do, I know that it will enrich your life and bring you closer to people and God.