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Building Faith Together: The Importance of Church Attendance

Description: Build faith together by regularly attending church. Read how togetherness develops strong Christian communities and adds to spiritual growth.



Introduction

These days, we often find ourselves pulled in many directions by the pressures of daily life. With endless choices on offer, it’s easy to overlook the importance of attending church regularly.


Maybe we’re inclined to believe this pressure is a modern phenomenon – as if our ancestors had a cartload more spare time and could easily attend church. Certainly, how they used their time was different in many ways, but the pressure to squeeze 48 hours into 24 has always been there. Also, what has always been there is choice and, in truth, most of us now have far more choice about how we use our time than our ancestors ever did.


The availability and convenience of online services has had a significant impact. This trend was given a massive boost during the Covid-19 pandemic. Many churches, that would not otherwise have thought to do so, now regularly video their services and make them available through mainstream social media channels, and so (potentially) reach a worldwide congregation.


However, while online services have their place, there remain compelling reasons why regular and physical attendance at church is crucial, particularly for Christians.


The importance of physical fellowship and community

The Bible often emphasises the importance of fellowship and community. Jesus is described as the cornerstone of the church (Matthew 21:42, Ephesians 2:20 and others), and just like a cornerstone isn't meant to stand alone, neither are we. Cornerstones need to be complemented by bricks, and we become Jesus’ bricks if we gather around his cornerstone and help build his church and kingdom.


Being part of a church community provides a unique opportunity for fellowship, mutual support and growth. It's within this setting, we become more confident and effective in spreading the gospel and responding to God's calls for service.


This, of course, is the ideal. In Luke 22:24-27, Jesus contrasted the ways leaders often behave (i.e. in putting their own needs first) with the way we should behave. He told his disciples that the greatest among them should be like one who serves, just as he had come to serve.


Despite this, a common attitude some bring to church is consumerist. They ask, ‘what can the church do for me and what can I get out of it?; instead of, ‘how can I contribute?’ This kind of upside-down thinking conflicts with the Bible, which commands us to love one another (John 13:34). A me-first attitude has no place in church. Jesus’ command is best fulfilled in a community where we can interact and support each other. Without a contributing attitude, and regular contact with other believers, it's challenging to live out this community principle in any practical way.


Worship and service: more than just attendance

Worship is central to the Christian faith, but it's not limited to singing hymns and particular forms of liturgy. Worship includes any action that honours God from the heart. This means even those who can't attend church, due to health issues or special circumstances, can still worship meaningfully. Their prayers and other forms of devotion are powerful and valuable in supporting the whole church community.


Yet, for those who are able, attending church offers unique benefits that go beyond personal worship. When gathered with others, we can share our experiences, seek guidance, and offer support. This collective experience helps to build a stronger, more vibrant faith community. As Proverbs 27:17 relates: as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. This sharpening process is difficult to achieve – and maintain – in isolation.


Illustrations of Community: The Coal Fire

Two classic illustrations vividly depict the importance of community. Imagine a coal fire burning brightly. When the coals are together, they remain hot and glowing. If one coal is removed, it quickly cools and darkens. Only by returning to the fire can it regain its heat. This demonstrates how Christian togetherness fuels individual and collective faith.


Another illustration involves scattering a hot coal fire. Isolated, each coal cools and loses its glow. It can easily be extinguished. When brought together, these same coals preserve and enhance each other’s heat. Importantly, glowing coals can also ignite those that are not yet alight, allowing the fire to grow and burn even more brightly. This symbolises how a united church can flourish and spread its light more effectively.


Addressing Imperfections

It’s unrealistic to pretend the church is without faults. Like any human institution, it has its shortcomings.


However, the church is fundamentally the body of God’s people – the very people we’re commanded to love. Accordingly, we should strive to confront and overcome any attitudes and behaviours that spring from spiritual and emotional immaturity, for example: cliquishness, gossiping, and behaviours such as being manipulative, controlling, discordant, or aggressive.


It’s worth remembering that unhealthy churches tend to focus inwards (on themselves) and only reach out to their own kind, i.e. only superficially going beyond their own membership. Healthy churches are emotionally and spiritually mature and remain calm, focused and non-reactionary when conflict arises, not self-righteous or harsh. The Apostle Paul described Christian maturity in Ephesians 4:1-3, where he exhorted believers to be completely gentle, humble, and patient, and to lovingly bear with one another, while striving to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.


By regularly attending church, we can do our best to make it a welcoming place of worship. Where this is a genuine commitment, churches grow and fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ thrives – despite the imperfections. Not going to church means denying others – and ourselves – opportunities to serve, offer support, pray communally, say kind words, bring encouragement… and so much more.


Concluding Thoughts: Together in Faith

Attending church is about more than fulfilling a religious obligation. It's about building a community where love, support, and spiritual growth flourish. We cannot truly love one another in practical ways if we don’t regularly meet and get to know each other. Sometimes, the right word at the right time can make a huge difference in someone’s life. However, for this to happen, we need to be present, both to give and to receive.


In Hebrews 10:24-25, we are encouraged to consider how we can spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together. This reminder is as relevant today as it was when first written. So, we should embrace the opportunity to gather, worship, and grow together, building a stronger, more united church that shines brightly in the world.


By focusing on the essential aspects of community, mutual support, and collective worship, attending church becomes a vital part of Christian life. Whether in the warmth of shared worship or the strength found in unity, the church remains a cornerstone of faith that brings believers together to support, grow, and serve each other in love.



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