I attend a church that has its services streamed live online. That creates a choice whether to go or not go. But for me, having been raised in church and a Christian school, and having attended a Christian college, it’s not about if I need to learn more basic doctrine. It’s not about whether or not I can learn as much from a sermon from my sofa. I believe the Holy Spirit can speak to me anywhere (He lives inside me). I also have the ability to return my tithe and give offerings via text. I dead-sure need to worship the Lord, pray, and read my Bible everyday of the week! BUT church is so much more!
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A big part of attending a service is what I can do for others while I am there. I teach Sunday school, but that is not the ministry of which I’m speaking. It is the ministry we all have– walking to my seat, looking for that person who may feel awkward, alone, sad, grieving, new, unsure….there is the chance for ministry. Who needs a smile and a greeting? Who needs a seat near me so they don’t have to sit alone? Who needs me to see them, so I can create a plan and tell my kids to shake their hand during that part of the service? Who needs to be encouraged by seeing me being faithful during a difficult time in my own life? Who needs me to share the Gospel with them one-on-one? Attending church creates all these opportunities. It is a place to train my children to live for others, to pay attention to authority (whoever is leading each part of the service) and follow along as a team member. It creates so many teaching moments of how to interact with people. We would pay for these social graces to be taught to our children, but church provides these opportunities for free! It is not about how often we MUST attend to be within the laws of the Bible. Scripture tells us to meet together, but does not define a specific number of times. (It does say we are to meet together and encourage each other more and more often as we prepare for Christ’s return–Hebrew 10:25). But my church attendance is so much more! My church offers first-class music specials and orchestra specials. I would pay to go hear quality music or to download it on my phone. I get it free at church. I appreciate the time the musicians put into practice. I appreciate the time my pastor puts into preparing a message.
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My attendance shows my gratitude. (Pastors and their wives carry many burdens for others. My attendance as well as my smiling face and attentiveness during the message encourage my pastor and pastor’s wife, both of whom pray for me and my family.) I am not “sinning” by staying home or missing services….I am just missing out on so much. How often should I attend? May I ask, in what church has God led me (or you) to be a member? How often do they meet together? That’s how often God would like me there when I am in town. If they don’t plan to meet, we won’t meet. Staying home makes it about ME. Attending makes it about those around me. I can use a lot more of that mentality in my life, and so can my kids.