By Marty Hoskins
Have you ever been hurt buy someone in the church that you thought was your friend? Have you ever felt isolated due the cliques and circles in a local church? Have you ever wondered how people that profess to believe in the love of God can act so unloving? Have you ever felt that you feel worse, or at best no better, when you leave a worship service than you did when you arrived? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then it is quite possible that you no longer attend a local church worship service on a regular basis. Even now you may be saying, “Give me one reason why I should go to church?” Certainly, every local church is full of imperfect people that can and often do fail us in so many ways; however this is not reason for us to cease to attend local worship services.
In reality, if you are asking “Why should I go to church?”, you are asking the wrong question. The question should be not be “Why should I go to church?”, it should be “Where should I go to church?” for there are many reasons why we should go to church.
The primary reason that one should go to regular Sunday worship services is because the scripture says we should. It says that we are to “…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.” (Heb 10:24-25) If we forsake the assembling of ourselves with other believers of like faith, we are walking in direct opposition to the teachings of the word of God and, in doing so, we should not expect God’s blessings in our life. Further, we are told that we are to attend out of consideration not for ourselves but rather for others. Our presence at an assembly should be for the purpose of encouraging others to love and good works. From this we begin to get a hint at the root of the problem.
If one is not attending worship at a local church due to some hurt, isolation, or lack of fulfillment experienced at ones local church, then I would assert that they issue is not with others, but with you! If all the reasons for not attending are about how YOU were hurt, how YOU were offended, or how YOU were made to feel, then maybe it is time to make church attendance about someone other than you. As we have already seen, we should be there, not for our own gain, but rather to “provoke” others “unto love and to good works.”
Secondly, we must realize that when we go to the local worship service, we are not going to receive, but rather to give. We are there to give worship unto God. When Abraham was called upon by God to take his only son, Isaac, and offer him as a sacrifice, Abraham told his servants “…Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship…” (Gen 22:5) Abraham fully expected that he was about to give up his son on that altar. Throughout the Old Testament, we are shown that worship is a sacrificial event. Worship involved the giving of something of value to God in recognition of his place of ownership over all that we have. This principle of worship being a sacrifice did not change in the New Testament. That principle of worship did not change, but the nature of it did. We are told to “…present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” (Rom 12:1) The ultimate lesson is that worship is not an act of receiving; it is as act of giving. It should not matter whether we “get something out of the worship service” or not, we should still attend as an act of sacrificial worship to God.
The third reason one should attend regular worship services is one of fellowship. God did not make a man to be an island unto himself. We find this all they way back to the Garden of Eden. When God made Adam, he said “It is not good that the man should be alone.” (Gen 2:18) People are social creatures and need the support of others. A simple, cursory reading of the book of Acts will show that the early church assembled and assembled often. They are referred to on multiple occasions as being together and of “one accord.” Further, we are told in 1 John 2:27 that “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” This fellowship is a benefit of walking in the light of the word of God. If we have no fellowship with God’s people and we think we are walking in the light, then we are deceiving ourselves.
Where Should I Go?
Once we have come to the realization that going to worship is not about me and what I get from it, but rather it is about what I give; and we realize that scripture allows no excuses regarding church attendance; then the only real question is “Where should I go?” This is not really a difficult question. The scriptures tell us plainly that the “church” is “the pillar and ground of the truth.” (1st Tim 3:15). Further, we are told that “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24) Therefore, we should go where the truth is revered as the center piece of the local church and the Spirit of God is present. A good feeling is not sufficient without examining the teachings of that local body to find that they uphold the truth as well. When you find a place where the truth is preached and the Spirit of God is present, you need look no further for where you should go no matter how many other imperfections you may find.
There are many excuses put forward by those that cease to attend regular worship services. I certainly will not address them all, but the most common ones are here:
Objection 1: I don’t get anything out of church when I go.
Response: We have already addressed this, but it should be noted that this objection is loaded with a selfish attitude. This objection demonstrates that the one giving it feels that church is all about them. If they are not getting, then there is no reason to go. They have failed to understand that worship is about giving, and if they happen to get something, then they should rejoice. We should go to worship with no expectation of return, and consider it an act of giving.
Objection 2: There is too much trouble in the church. The people are hypocrites, etc.
Response: This is a very common objection, and I fully understand it as I have been through some of these same troubles that drive people away. I have, at times, considered staying home, myself. However, this objection fails to recognize that we are all sinners and that even the objector is a hypocrite. We all are! The church has always been made up of sinners that fail. Why, Peter refused to eat with Gentiles when Jews were around after having been the first to bring the gospel to the Gentiles. You cannot be part of the solution if you are not part of the church.
Objection 3: I don’t need any man to teach me, for I have the Spirit to teach me.
Response: This objection springs primarily from 1st John 2:27 which says “…ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things…” However, this verse needs to be taken in context. First of all, John is a man writing this book to teach God’s people, so he certainly is not saying that we should not heed the teachings of Godly men. 1st John 2:26 says “These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you.” So the context is clear that John is speaking of the men that would seduce them with the “teaching of men” not the teachings of Godly men that would teach them the things of God. You see, God set in the church “pastors and teachers” (Eph 4:22), and there is no reason to believe that he would have done so if we did not need teaching.
Since churches are made up of people, and all people are sinners, there is no such thing as a perfect church. No matter how hard we look, we will only find churches that are imperfect, at best. God knew this when he put the church in the world and commanded us to be a part. If God knew and still commanded, then we should attend worship and join ourselves to the church in spite of the problems. When we allow ourselves to be pushed away because of the sin we see in the church, we are like the man that found the treasure in the field, but we are unwilling to buy the field to have the treasure because we do not like the field. (Mat 13:44) As long as you refuse to buy the field, you cannot have the treasure and you have no right to clean up the field, because you do not own it. However, if you buy the field, you get the treasure, and you have the opportunity to improve the field.
Truly, church attendance should be an act of love toward God where we GIVE God praise and glory for all that he has done and all that he is.
Marty Hoskins is Pastor of the Dallas Primitive Baptist Church in Dallas , GA. The Dallas Church meats every Sunday at 10:30 am in our worship facility that is located at 227 Legion Road , Dallas , GA 30152 . We invite you to come and see what we are about.