Church Attendance

Nearly everyone has attempted to hit a baseball. With the little guys, we’ll place the ball on a T but give them the same instructions as older kids being pitched too – keep your eye on the ball, swing level, choke up on the bat, and so on. Without practice, the little guys will never get better. Even grown men who make millions of dollars playing baseball take batting practice.

What does batting practice have to do with church attendance? Before this column ends up being an article of detailed instruction on how to hit a baseball, let’s get to the point – to be good at something, you need to be proficient at the fundamentals. A mechanic has to be able to use a wrench. A carpenter has to be able to drive a nail. It is true that occasionally, a carpenter will bend a nail, but those are few or far between. A Christian needs to be proficient in the fundamentals of Christianity to be a good Christian. One of those fundamentals is attending church, so why is church low on the priority list for those who profess to be Christians?

Sometimes, Christians who never miss a church service are interrupted by work schedules or illness, but that is similar to the carpenter who bends the occasional nail. He never wants to do that and corrects the problem as soon as possible.

We will examine a couple of popular excuses for Christians to miss church.

“I can worship God just as good at home as at church.”

This statement is true. Everyone should worship God at home as they do at church. Worship should be 24/7 for every Christian. Worship is not confined to the walls of a church or a home. However, obedience is a huge part of worship. How can we worship God while we are disobeying Him? Disobedience is disrespect and a lack of love. It is impossible to worship by committing an act of disobedience. Since God tells us not to forsake the assembly, we are in disobedience when we willfully do not attend. If a person uses the excuse, “I can worship God just as good at home as at church,” as a reason not to attend church, they are telling God they would rather disobey Him than worship Him.

“The church is filled with hypocrites.”

Hypocrisy in the church is a significant concern. It is more of a pulpit problem than a pew problem.

Let me explain.

When there is sin (hypocrisy) in the church, and the truth is preached from the pulpit, four possible outcomes exist.

1) The minister is replaced.

2) The hearts of the people change, repentance occurs, and the sin is removed.

3) The hypocrites leave by either attending other churches or stop going to church altogether.

4) God tells the Pastor to “wipe the dust off his feet,” and the minister leaves.

The key to these four outcomes is whether or not the truth is preached. When the truth, especially the truth about sin, is not preached, the hypocrite is free to do as he pleases because getting yourself right with God never becomes an issue.

In the end, God will not judge you by the actions of others. He will look at how you handled the situation and whether you remained in His will or not. God will not give you a free pass to disobey Him because other Christians are not living up to His standard.

What should a person do if hypocrites fill the church?

First, pray for the ministers and the congregation of the church. Christ commands us to pray for our enemies; how much more should we pray for those who claim to be our brothers and sisters in Christ?

Next, you have a decision to make. Is the church preaching the truth? Not what you want to hear, but the truth of God’s Word? Is sin being discussed and condemned from the pulpit? If not, the likelihood of the hypocrite situation being corrected is next to zero. If this is the case, ask God if He wants you to seek a different church.

Waiting it out is another option. If the truth is being preached, outcomes two and three above are possibilities, but either will take time.

Prayer is paramount in making the right decision here, but if you want to remain in God’s will, you do not have the option of stopping church altogether.

One last thought on church attendance. Why do we go to church in the first place?

The answers vary – to be fed with the Word, to worship, or because God wants me to go. These are all correct answers, and there are more, but the one answer I rarely hear anyone say is one God emphasizes.

Hebrews 10:23-25, “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”

One huge reason we should attend church is each other. These verses describe a group of people willing to help each other even if we need to get under each other’s skin. “Provoke unto love and to good works” sounds like we should lovingly point the hypocrite in the right direction.

Many Christians love the modern church where we can go in, find our seats, be entertained by the music, be told that God loves us, and then, after an hour, return to our cars. We’ll smile and say “hello” as we pass people, but the less interaction, the better. However, from the description God gave us in that passage from Hebrews, it looks like interaction is a significant portion of what the church should be.

A church should teach the truth with the intent of changing hearts (2 Timothy 2:14). Without the truth, Christ is not present (John 14:6). Many churches today have Christ outside the church, pounding on the door, attempting to get in (Revelation 3:14-20).

Lastly, many Christians believe we are near the end times. When God tells us not to forsake the assembly and to provoke each other to love and good works, notice what He said at the end, “so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”

If you are a Christian, go to church whenever the doors are open. If you do not have a church – find one. Stop disobeying God and calling it worship.

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