Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. Hebrews 10:23-25 (NASB)
We have a counseling outreach into the community and we often see people who are disconnected from a local church. Most of the people we see call themselves Christians yet do not belong to nor attend a local church. I find this amazing and very sad.
The reasons I am given for why Christians are not attending church rarely hold any water with me and more than that very few of the reasons are biblical.
The greatest group of non-church attenders have stopped going because they are disgruntled and angry at “the church.” Someone hurt their feelings, church didn’t meet their “needs,” church got in the way of other weekend activities, was too far to drive, didn’t have a Sunday School program for the kids, or some other excuse.
Some, to their credit stopped attending a church because the doctrine was perverted or the leadership was ungodly. They attempted to rectify the situations and were unsuccessful so they had to leave out of conscience. This is far and away the minority of people.
Some people watch church at home, thinking that television teaching is as good as the real thing, or being there in person. This is a wonderful option for those who are too ill or infirm and cannot possibly get to church, for parents with sick children, or bad weather. Even on a rare sleep-in Sunday watching the church service via the internet is alright. However, church TV should never be a steady diet.
I see all sorts of problems when people forsake the gathering together with one another for church. First, it is not biblical to separate yourself this way. Hebrews 10:25 is clear that Christians are to regularly gather for the preaching of the Word and for fellowship with other Believers.
We derive encouragement from one another when we meet. We get out of our own hurting worlds and invest ourselves in the lives of other people. We have an opportunity to serve others both in the church building and through using our God given gifts of teaching, music, ministering, counseling, discipleship and many other avenues of service.
There is also the necessary aspect of teaching and preaching. Being in the body of believers and receiving corporate instruction is important for mutual edification.
A person who is not in the church is also not allowing themselves to receive any sort of challenge to developing or present sinful habits in their life. This is frequently what causes people to leave a church in the first place; someone dares to confront them about sin in their life.
You must understand that the church is in a sense God’s workshop and the people in it are to help rub the rough edges off of one another. Through our interaction with fellow Christians we can see and better understand issues of the heart that must be dealt with so we can grow and change. If a person is unwilling to attend and be a part of a church it is as though they are telling God that He must sanctify them some other way. They act as though they believe they are too good to be admonished or rebuked.
A person who comes for counseling and has no church family has no one to pray for them; they have no one to support them and care for them spiritually. There is also no accountability for sin or change and this is where I find the greatest danger.
All Bible believing Christians need to be in the church.
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