Why bother with Church?
Updated: Oct 28, 2022
Description: It can’t be that big a deal to miss church services on Sundays, or can it? After all, Christians are supposed to reflect Christ every day.
For most of us, there are many and varied pressures on our time. Maybe we like to pretend that this 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 respects, but the pressure to squeeze 48 hours into 24 has always been there. What has also 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.
One option our ancestors never had was to watch church services from the comfort of their own homes, yet many of us can do this easily on devices that range from TVs to smartphones. Such viewings have grown massively, not least because of the Covid 19 pandemic. This worldwide crisis has resulted in many churches, that would not otherwise have thought to do so, now regularly videoing their services and making them available worldwide.
Without doubt, this has helped meet the needs of two important groups of people:
those who feel reluctant to attend church because of risks to their health
those who are unable to attend in person due to health, mobility or other limiting factors.
Additionally, the significant increase in the availability of online church services has introduced many non-church goers to Christianity. Hopefully, their experiences will encourage them along their journeys into the Christian faith.
So is going to church that important?
For Christians, Jesus is our cornerstone, but cornerstones aren’t meant to stand-alone. They are meant to be accompanied by other bricks. For Jesus, we are those bricks and, if we gather around his cornerstone, we can help to build his church and his kingdom.
The key point is that we do it together. It’s ‘togetherness’ that builds us up as the people of God. Togetherness also means that we’re better able to build up others. It’s crucial. Spreading the gospel becomes far easier when we freely support each other – and so does responding to God’s other calls to service.
Attitudes and opportunities
There shouldn’t be an attitude towards church attendance centred around ‘what we can get out of it’. Rather, it’s about opening ourselves to what God wants from us – and this definitely includes loving one another. In fact, we are commanded to love one another - as Jesus loves us (John 13:34-35). And we can’t love one another unless we are around others to love.
However, it would be unrealistic to pretend that the church is without faults and shortcomings. Nonetheless, it comprises God’s people – the very people we’re commanded to love. Accordingly, we should love the church and do our best to contribute to making it a welcoming place of worship. Where this happens, churches grow.
By regularly going to church, we can meet with and demonstrate our fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Not going means denying them – and ourselves – opportunities to serve, offer support, pray communally, say kind words, bring encouragement… and so much more.
Worshipping God with others is, of course, central to going to church. It’s about openly declaring God’s greatness, faithfulness and abiding love. Worship can be just about anything that honours God from the heart. Paul says in Romans 12:1. ‘Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship.’
Very importantly, the prayers and gifts of those whose health and difficult circumstances prevent church attendance are powerful; they are of high value in a troubled world that needs payer from the whole body of Christ on earth. Moreover, there is nothing to stop those able to attend church from visiting their brothers and sisters who can’t attend. This too is togetherness.
There are a couple of often used illustrations about the significance of going to church. Both involve hot coals. The first pictures a coal fire burning brightly. When the coals are all together, they all stay bright and hot. Should one be taken out, it soon becomes cool and dark. It’s only by returning to the fire that an individual coal can achieve its full potential. This is the power of Christian togetherness.
The second illustration imagines a whole coal fire being scattered. When isolated, each coal is easily extinguished. The point here is that it’s only when individual coals are brought together that a fire can truly flourish, i.e. the heat in each coal preserves (and potentially increases) that of others. What’s more, the coals that are glowing have the heat to ignite nearby coals that are not yet alight. In this way, the fire will grow bigger and burn even more brightly.
We can’t really love one another in a practical way if we don’t regularly reach for opportunities to meet and get to know each other. Sometimes, just the right word at the right time can make a massive difference to someone’s life – but another someone has to be there to say it. We should perhaps take note and remember that ‘togetherness’ cuts both ways: one day, we might be the ones in need of that opportune word.
Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version® Anglicized, NIV® Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.