Why Attend Church This Sunday?
By Brandon Freeman
Churches exist because God’s plan of redemption extends beyond the scope of saved individuals. God purposed to save Christians and establish churches through the gospel (Eph 2:14-16). Christianity is not ultimately individualistic. The Bible is full of commands that focus on the Christian’s interaction with other Christians: “be devoted to one another” (Rom 12:10); “live in harmony with one another” (Rom 10:16); “stop passing judgement on one another” (Rom 14:13); “accept one another…as Christ has accepted you” (Rom 15:7); “serve one another in love” (Gal 5:13); “bear with one another in love” (Eph 4:2); “be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Eph 4:32); “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Eph 5:21). Those instructions assume church membership and outline how God is glorified in your life as a member of a church. Membership does not save anyone from eternal judgment. And yet, your lack of church attendance (and church membership) might indicate that you are not a Christian.*
It is critical for us to understand that the New Testament pattern of Christians gathering together to sing (Col 3:16), pray (Acts 2:42), read the Bible (1 Tim 4:13), receive the preached Bible (2 Tim 4:2), and celebrate the ordinances (Matt 28:19; 1 Cor 11:23-26) is God’s idea. We would be swimming against the tide of biblical and church history by our questioning the weekly corporate worship gathering.
Scripture indicates that there are several spiritual benefits for attending church each Sunday. A number of these benefits are either implied or directly stated in Hebrews 10:23-25, which is one of the most important passages for this discussion:
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
As a Christian, why attend church this Sunday?
1. To persevere (“let us hold fast the confession of hope without wavering”)
Note the connection in the passage between not neglecting to meet together as Christians in a local church and our holding fast to the confession of hope without wavering. Don’t neglect the means God has ordained to keep you.
2. To worship God (“for he who promised is faithful”)
Those who attend church faithfully understand that their participation in corporate worship communicates God’s majesty to God, to themselves, and to a watching world. The root cause of inconsistent church attendance is a low view of God. Put positively, the glory of God compels regular worship of God in the local church.
3. To be changed (“let us consider how to stir one another to love and good works”)
Christians are changed by beholding the glory of their Savior (2 Cor 3:18; cf Col 3:16). There is an irreplaceable, sanctifying effect in attending a church that weekly preaches Christ.
4. To minister and be ministered to (“let us consider how to stir one another to love and good works”)
There is a reciprocal ministry that occurs in a local church: you are ministered to and you yourself minister. The verse says, “consider.” Think about the members of your church and how you might do spiritual good to them, even by your attendance (see 1 Thess 5:11). The week can be long and we are often discouraged. In the worship gathering, God can encourage your heart with all the elements that make up the service, including interaction with other Christians.
5. To be obedient (“not neglecting to meet together”)
The straightforward exhortation from these verses is to continue attending the local church gathering for the sake of your soul. Just as with all the other facets of the Christian life, we must trust what God has said about this topic. Attending church on Sunday is another way where we submit to God as Lord over our lives.
6. To be prepared (“not neglecting to meet”)
Heaven is the gathering of God’s people for their perfect enjoyment and God’s great glory. By attending church on Sundays, you are preparing for heaven (Rev 7:15; 19:1-8).
7. To be accounted for (“one another…together…one another”)
Members have the charge of overseeing each other’s spiritual well-being. As a member, you have been tasked with helping other members keep the faith. In Hebrews 13, Christians are also commanded to “obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account” (v. 17). One of the most practical ways to love the leaders of your church is to be present on Sunday morning. If you are a member who inconsistently attends on Sundays, the pastors’ responsibility to keep watch over your soul is increased in difficulty. One should not be assured they will be accounted for in heaven if they can’t be accounted for in a local church.
8. To be united (“one another…together…one another”)
For many churches, the Sunday morning gathering is the only time the whole church comes together. The church is never more the church than when they are gathering, worshipping, and celebrating the ordinances together (1 Cor 11:17-34; Eph 4:1-16).
9. To remember (“all the more as you see the Day drawing near”)
Since the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ, Christians have gathered on the first day of the week. The Bible calls it “The Lord’s Day” (Matt 28:1; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor 16:2; Rev 1:10). We gather on the first day of the week to remember Christ’s victorious resurrection from the dead and our resurrection with him. Each Sunday, we are drawn to remember the person and work of Christ through song, ordinance, sermon, and prayer.
10. To rejoice (“all the more as you see the Day drawing near”)
Christians gather in anticipation. We understand that the Day is drawing near when Christ will return for His people and judge the living and the dead in righteousness. Soon, we will see our Savior face to face. Our attendance on Sunday morning gives vocalization to the cry of our hearts, “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev 21:20). Soon, Jesus Christ will indeed return. The Day is drawing near. Depending on your spiritual state, this is either frightening or thrilling. Commit yourself to the Lord afresh.
May these spiritual benefits be yours as you attend church this Sunday.
* I recognize that some members are unable to attend the worship gathering regularly for unavoidable reasons.