Going to church every week, week after week matters. If we know Jesus, we should desire to be with his bride. For all those who believe, have a church home, but don’t attend consistently, I’m writing for you. If you’re one of those spotty non-attenders, I’m writing to you in love but also in truth. Come home! Regular church attendance is not just good for the ministry; it’s good for your soul, and for mine.1
So why is regular church attendance so important? Here’re seven reasons:
1. FAITHFUL ATTENDERS PRIORITIZE GOD AND HIS WORD FIRST IN THEIR LIVES.
A call for regular church attendance begins in what are likely the first written words of the Bible, the Ten Commandments. Exodus 20:3 says, “You shall have no other gods before me.”2 How we spend our time is the truest measure of God’s place in our lives. If we are quick to fill the time set aside for worshipping God with visiting family, going to the beach, attending concerts, or just relaxing, we are unintentionally saying those things matter more than God (Matt. 12:48-50, Lk. 14:26).
Just like we set aside time to listen to our loved ones, we need to set aside time to listen to God. Throughout church history God has used one constant to communicate to his people, the public reading and preaching of the Bible. In 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Paul tells us,
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
If we want to prioritize God and what he wants to say to us, we need to prioritize church in addition to our own quiet times with him.
2. FAITHFUL ATTENDERS DEMONSTRATE THEIR LOVE FOR JESUS AND HIS BRIDE.
“I love Jesus but not the church” is like saying to a new groom, “I love you but not your bride.” The Bible describes the local church as the bride of Christ (2 Cor. 11:2Eph. 5:24-27, Rev. 19:7-9, 21:1-2). It is impossible to maintain a thriving relationship with Christ while at the same time avoiding fellowship with a gospel-believing local church. When we commit to loving the church, we commit to loving Christ.
Parents should be especially driven to attend church regularly. The children of parents who do not attend church consistently are more likely to walk away from Christianity when they are old enough to decide for themselves. Why? Their parents demonstrated week after week that Christ is an add-on, an addition, and if life is too busy, it is okay to ignore him. Parents, please model for your children that Jesus is not only the Savior of your soul but the King of your life.
3. FAITHFUL ATTENDERS RECEIVE THE GOSPEL ANEW EVERY SINGLE WEEK.
There is nothing more important than the gospel, than hearing anew that Jesus is a righteous substitute for sinful, broken, people—for you and me (Rom. 3:21-26, 2 Cor. 5:21). In Romans 10:17, Paul says, “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” Even though we need to hear and believe the gospel every day, it is easy to go a whole week without giving this life-changing message a passing thought. One of the church’s roles is to boldly and lovingly tell us how bad we are and how great Jesus loves us week after week. When we love the church, we love the gospel.
One of the temptations in encouraging each other to go to church weekly is to do so from guilt, to say God won’t be pleased with you unless you go to church every week. That’s legalism, and it is death. So what does the gospel say? It says that in Jesus we already have a perfect record, and now we’re called to live it out week by week. God created us for good works (Eph. 2:10), one of which is worshipping with his body. Apart from Christ, I am nothing. In him, I am everything.
4. FAITHFUL ATTENDERS HELP EVANGELIZE THE LOST AND BUILD-UP NEW BELIEVERS.
In the early church, the Holy Spirit used regular and passionate participation in the church in Jerusalem, a local church, to bring new people to faith in Jesus.
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. – Acts 2:42-47 (emphasis added)
It is a miracle when the unchurched and non-Christians begin attending church. There are already a lot of new words, lingo, and patterns to learn. By not attending faithfully, we confuse the newly churched about what it means to follow Jesus. Not only is this a challenging time for a non-Christian attender, but there is also a spiritual battle taking place (Eph. 6:12). When we attend together, we fight the battle together.
5. FAITHFUL ATTENDERS CULTIVATE A HEART-ATTITUDE OF GRATEFULNESS.
Church attendance is good for the soul. If you’re someone who struggles with sadness or depression, find a church that has God-given joy and commit. It is easier to catch the joy when you are around others who truly have it.
Speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. –Ephesians 5:19-20
One of the benefits of coming to church regularly is the opportunity to give (1 Cor. 16:2). Giving to God has the side-effect of producing a heart-attitude of gratefulness.
Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. – 2 Corinthians 9:7
Worshipping regularly with fellow believers and giving to the local church can up-lift the soul and refresh us for our everyday life.
6. FAITHFUL ATTENDERS ENCOURAGE FELLOW DISCIPLES IN THEIR LONG WALK.
The benefits of attending faithfully are enormous. In 1 Thessalonians 5:11, Paul says, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” Regular church participation gives us the opportunity to use our spiritual gifts to build up the local church and bring God fame (Rom. 12:6-8,1 Cor. 12:4-11, 12:28). The book of Hebrews says over and over how important it is for Christians to encourage each other and not fall away.
See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. – Hebrews 3:12-14
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. – Hebrews 10:24-25
The potential consequences of neglecting church are serious—cultivating a hard heart, not sharing in Christ, turning away, and subjecting Christ to public disgrace (Heb 6:4-6).
Christ warned the Church in Laodicea they were lukewarm. In Revelation 3:16, the Apostle John says, “So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” If you are a lukewarm attender, chances are you are a lukewarm believer. God desires that His followers repent from a lukewarm relationship with him and truly seek him. The Holy Spirit wants to set us on fire for God and His glory. Strong attendance helps us heat up our ministry temperature.
7. FAITHFUL ATTENDERS BRING JOY TO THEIR LEADER’S HEARTS.
Elders, pastors, deacons, and other church leaders face many unsung battles. One of them is shepherding the flock; guiding people spiritually. One way the sheep can make it just a little easier on their shepherds is to come into the sheep pen regularly. Hebrews 13:17 says,
Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.
You give your leaders great joy when you tell them church matters, and you are willing to submit to their authority (1 Pt. 5:1-11). Scripture tells us that Christ is the “Chief Shepherd” (1 Pet. 5:4). When we submit to the under-shepherds God has put in place, we submit to the Chief Shepherd, Jesus. When the sheep show up, the shepherds rejoice, and I believe the Chief Shepherd does too.
FAITHFUL CHURCH ATTENDANCE MATTERS!
If you’re someone who doesn’t attend regularly, I hope you’ll be challenged to commit truly. It’s time to step up! If you go faithfully but have a family member or church friend who comes and goes with the wind, feel free to share, but do so with love and kindness.
If you’re a church leader, consider writing regular church attendance into your covenant or requirements for membership, then encourage your members to keep covenant.
Ultimately, this is not done for the sake of an institution or organization, but for the sake of our souls. We want to know and love Jesus, and he gave us his bride, the church, out of his deep love for us. Let’s go to church!
Jonathan Romig (M.Div., Gordon-Conwell, 2013) is the Pastor of Cornerstone Congregational Church, a new church plant in Westford MA. He is also the author of the e-book, How To Give A Christian Wedding Toast.