There may be nothing greater in the universe than the number of reasons that people can think up to avoid going to church.
For example, some people say that church is too boring. There are others who believe that going to church isn’t really necessary. There are some who prefer to skip going to church in favor of some other activity. Then there are those people who say that they avoid going to church because there are “too many hypocrites” there. Whatever the reason, one thing is certain- it seems that people can come up with a seemingly endless number of excuses to avoid going to church.
So why is church important and why should Christians go to church regularly? Well, let’s take a few minutes to look at the Scriptures and see if we can get some good answers to that question. We’ll start by looking at the New Testament book known as Hebrews…
“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another-and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25 NIV).
The word “church” comes from a New Testament word that refers to a public assembly, especially one of a religious nature. While the exact number of appearances of the word “church” varies from version to version, it definitely appears more than seventy times in the New Testament. While the word church can sometimes be used to describe the whole Christian community throughout the world, it’s most often used in the New Testament to describe a local congregation that meets in a particular area.
One of the important things to understand about going to church is that the whole concept of “church” was established by Jesus Himself. For example, Jesus used the term “my church” in Matthew 16:18 and Colossians 1:18 refers to Jesus as the head of the church. A little later in the Bible, the book of 1 Timothy refers to the church as “God’s church” in chapter three, verse five (3:5) and even as “God’s household” in chapter three, verse fifteen (3:15).
So it’s clear that the idea of going to church and getting together with other Christians wasn’t something that was dreamed up by a bunch of people thousands of years ago- the church is an institution that has been set up by God and Jesus is the leader.
This is important to remember, especially when looking at some of the objections that people make to avoid going to church. For example, people sometimes claim that there are “too many hypocrites in church” as an excuse to avoid going to church. But let’s think this through for a moment- there are hypocrites at your school, aren’t there? You don’t stop going to school just because there are hypocrites there, do you?
Or let’s say that you work at an after-school job; there surely must be some hypocritical people at your workplace but doesn’t mean that you stop going to work, does it? Now this doesn’t mean that hypocrisy is OK (and it’s especially not OK for Christians) but it does illustrate a double-standard that lies behind this objection.
Here’s another excuse that people often give to avoid going to church: I don’t feel like getting up early on Sunday morning- I’d rather sleep late. Well, OK, but here’s some news: nobody likes getting up early! -and that includes The Doctor.
However, there’s a reason why most churches have their main services on Sunday mornings. The idea is to show respect for God by setting aside the first part of the first day of the week to worship and learn from Him. This arrangement has been followed by God’s people for centuries and is also hinted at in Biblical verses such as Acts 20:7 and 1 Corinthians 16:2. So rather than looking at this as an inconvenience, we should see it for what it is- a good way to demonstrate honor, respect, and appreciation for God by putting Him first on the first day of the week.
Well, maybe you feel that church is boring and you’d rather do almost anything than listen to another dull, uninteresting sermon. OK, so maybe your church doesn’t have the most gifted speakers but it’s important to remember that it’s the message and not the messenger that’s really important here. This is illustrated by something that the Apostle Paul wrote about in 1 Corinthians 2:4-5…
“…my preaching was very plain, not with a lot of oratory and human wisdom, but the Holy Spirit’s power was in my words, proving to those who heard them that the message was from God. I did this because I wanted your faith to stand firmly upon God, not on man’s great ideas.”
Besides, if your church leadership teaches from God’s Word then there will be always be something of value in it- in fact, God says so Himself…
“As the rain and snow come down from heaven and stay upon the ground to water the earth, and cause the grain to grow and to produce seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry, so also is my Word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It shall accomplish all I want it to and prosper everywhere I send it” (Isaiah 55:10-11).
Of course, church will probably seem boring to anyone who is looking to be entertained because entertainment is not the purpose of church (see Acts 2:42 and Ephesians 4:11-12). So what do you do? Well, if the messages at church seem uninteresting then it’s time to have a conversation with God about it in prayer. Perhaps it would be good to ask God to help you to understand His Word better and become a good listener so the messages won’t seem so lifeless. At the very least, you can always ask God to help the church leaders to speak as effectively as possible. The important thing is to bring the issue to God in prayer and then let Him handle things as He sees fit.
Remember that every member of the church is like a member of your family because every Christian is related to every other Christian through Jesus Christ (see 1 Corinthians 12:27). Church is important because it’s the place where you can be with other Christians and encourage one another. Church is also the place where you can learn, grow, and use your God-given abilities to serve and help others. But most importantly, people who don’t go to church lose an opportunity to spend quality time with Jesus…
“For where two or three gather together because they are mine, I will be right there among them” (Matthew 18:21).