In today’s culture (even Christian culture!), there is an increasingly popular belief – that church attendance is optional. Going to church is viewed as a nice idea, but not something that is truly important for your Christian walk.
While it is certainly true what Alistair Begg says, that “being in church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than being in a garage makes you a car”, regular church attendance and involvement is a primary means by which Christ grows, sanctifies, encourages, teaches, helps, strengthens, equips, cares for, and mobilizes His sons and daughters. Going to church does not save you, but it does grow you. Let’s see what the Word has to say about that!
The Purposes of the Church in a Believer’s Life
- To Care for the Believers’ Needs (Physical and Spiritual!)
The book of Acts is where we read about the church’s beginning and how the early church originally operated. It is a powerful book illustrating for us how God designed the church to work and what its purposes are in a believer’s life. Acts 2:40-47 says, “And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, ‘Be saved from this perverse generation.’ Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”
The early church truly did life together. They regularly ate together, met together for worship, learned and grew in truth together, and met each others’ financial needs (we see this principle in 1 Timothy 5, as well!). By encouraging and helping one another, they became fortified for the work, trials, and concerns of everyday life, and grew in their Christian walk in the process.
- To Benefit the Believer
God beautifully designed the local church to be a body of believers who use their gifts for the spiritual benefit of each other. First Corinthians 12:4-11 says, “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.”
Not only are we called to use our God-given gifts and talents for the good of the local church (and we must be in attendance to do that!), we were also made to benefit from the gifts of our fellow believers. It’s a truly beautiful give and take designed to grow us spiritually and equip us for the journey of life.
- To Spur on the Believer in the Work of the Ministry
Hebrews 10:23-25 says, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Jesus issued to us the work of the Great Commission ministry in Matthew 28:18-20, meaning that each of us is to make disciples in whatever sphere God has placed us. It is regular church attendance and being involved with a local body of believers which equip us to be encouraged, inspired, and convicted to remain faithful in this work. Plain and simple, we need each other!
While it is certainly true that going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than not attending church will make you lose your salvation, we as believers do still need to prioritize regular church involvement – for the good of our spiritual lives, our loved ones, and everyone else with whom we come into contact! Regular church attendance is part of what equips us for Christian life! May we not neglect it.