And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works. (Hebrews 10:24)
What I Miss When I Do Not Attend
Worship has always been a part of the relationship between man and God. Cain and Abel brought offerings to the Lord, Abram built altars to honor his God, Melchizedek was a High Priest serving under the will of the Lord and Moses gave the Hebrews a law filled with exhortations on true worship. In Christ worship is a precious remembrance of the sacrifice of the Father to send His Son for the sins of all men. The death of Jesus abolished the Law of Moses and gained an entrance for the Gentiles to enjoy the blessings of all men coming to God as one people. Only in the name of Jesus Christ would salvation be offered to the world.
The pattern of worship in the early church was a simple plan of God for His people to gather as one in the fellowship of how each person could exhort and admonish one another. They would sing together with voices blended in speaking to one another through hymns, psalms and spiritual songs. Examining the scriptures would be a time of faith building as they studied together and learned from one another. Remembering the sacrifice of Christ highlighted the service as the supper was taken of the bread and fruit of the vine. Paul reminded the Corinthians of the necessity of obeying the word of Christ to remember Him in a manner of reverence. Bonding the hearts together in worship came from prayers lifted to the Father in thanksgiving, praise, honor and glory. The New Testament church established a weekly observance of worship.
Through the centuries methods have changed in carrying out the first day of the week worship. The scriptures teach assembling on the first day of the week is a command. Acts 20:7, 1 Corinthians 16:2, Hebrews 10:24-25 and 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 are examples of the command to gather on the first day of the week. It must be especially noted that if a person does not assemble for the Lord’s Supper they cannot take of it in a worthy manner bringing severe judgment from the Lord. Whether this command is carried out one time on Sunday or multiple times is left to man to decide as long as the word of God is followed in assembling on the first day of the week. In our modern world of easy transportation, electricity and comforts of prosperity, many churches meet multiple times on Sunday and during the week. The buildings are adequate to allow worship to be carried out with ease. For most people, travel to and from the places of worship are also with great simplicity.
With all the comforts of a modern world and convenience of more time on our hands, many saints only come to one service during the week. Sunday morning worship is routinely a larger crowd than Bible class and evening services. There are exceptions to some who are unable to attend more services than one (distance, darkness, well-being, etc.). What is sad to see are swelling numbers on Sunday morning dwindling down 40% or more when the evening service comes or mid-week studies. Because of this many churches are cancelling services in the evening. What do people miss when they do not attend the services?
They miss the fellowship of other saints. Many churches are filled with people who do not know one another because they seldom spend time getting to know their brethren. In part this comes from seldom or infrequently coming to services. Even coming to the Sunday morning service alone makes it very difficult to build a relationship with another person. Those who do not to attend will never enjoy the close relationship that begins in worship and blossoms into relationships in life. Those who miss the services do not enjoy the blessings of Hebrews 10:24 – “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.” See also Colossians 3:16.
Those who do not attend the services do not grow in faith with their fellow saints. Bible classes and preaching are vital parts of the work of the Lord but when the services are neglected, faith dwindles. Self-study is important and an answer can be given that personal studies are done but where is the discussion, the examination, the challenge of iron striking iron (Proverbs 27:17)? Families with children who seldom bring them to Bible studies realize much too late their children have little interest in the Lord. Teachers prepare great lessons for their students only to see them attend sporadically. Children have a funny way of growing up and becoming just like us – no matter how hard we try to teach them different. They learn more by our example than our words.
Failing to assemble with the saints makes a statement to the community. My life is an open book to my neighbors and friends and when church services are not important enough to attend – they see my faith. I miss the opportunity to let my light shine to others. Our lives may be the only Bible some folk will read and what a great impact I can have on others when I show my faith by my works (James 2:14-26).
The growth of a local congregation comes from what everyone puts into the effort. Paul explained church growth in Ephesians 4:16 when he writes, “From whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” If the members of a local congregation are not engaged enough to be an active part of the work, what is the message they are sending? The whole body must be joined together. It must be knit together. Each person must do their part to create an effective work in the local congregation. When members do not find enough interest to meet but the minimum requirements of the law the church struggles to grow.
Maybe it is time for the Lord to take away the work of the church from the soft-peddled Americans who have every comfort and convenience to worship and give it to a people who are not burdened with the blessings of prosperity. Folks in Nicaragua sit in buildings without air-conditioning on plastic chairs and dim lights and have little to complain about. Churches in South Africa meet under a tree allowing the shade to be their only relief from the sun. Saints in Bulgaria gather in a small apartment with little fanfare and lift their voices to God in praise. What will we tell Abraham, Moses, David and the Apostles of the glory days of the Kingdom and all the opportunities we had to worship together under the banner of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords – and we complained and fussed about having to do so much and go so far and stay so long and … ? Sad isn’t it? Jesus died on a wooden cross and we complain about splinters.