When it comes to church, we’ve all heard the same clichés … Don’t go to church, be the church … I don’t mind God; it’s his fan club I can’t stand … You don’t have to go to church to worship God … I’m spiritual, but not religious … The church is full of hypocrites … Sitting in a garage doesn’t make you a car, and going to church doesn’t make you a Christian …
I get it; people are down on the idea of going to church. Studies and surveys bear this out with striking consistency. If you track church attendance generationally, you’ll find that younger generations attend church less than older generations.
Additionally, if you track religious affiliation, you’ll find that younger generations are far more likely to identify as “none” as opposed to Baptist, Catholic, etc. Even among those who do attend church, you clearly see declining patterns of “regular” attendance. Once upon a time, regular meant attending 3 out of 4 Sundays. Now, most pastors are thrilled if their folks attend 2 out of 4 Sundays. All this adds up to an undeniable reality. Fewer people are attending church on a regular basis. People are down on the idea of going to church.
Perhaps the often used clichés above are popular because they soothe our conscience as we attend church less than previous generations. Perhaps the same clichés are a needed corrective for unbiblical ideas about church that prevailed in previous generations. Either way, I’m still “all in” for church attendance, and I think you should be, too. Here are six reasons I think you should still “go” to church on a regular basis.
- God built rhythm into our lives. It really doesn’t matter where you fall on the issue of Sabbath vs. Lord’s Day. The Bible is clear that from the very beginning God built rhythm into our lives. We are made to work and rest, and that rest includes worshiping God as Creator and Savior (Genesis 2:1-3, Exodus 20:1-21).
- Jesus planned to build a church. On the heels of Peter confessing Jesus as the long hoped for Messiah, Jesus made a remarkable promise to the disciples. Jesus promised to build his church. Since Jesus thought the church was worth building, we ought to see the value of being part of the church (Matthew 16:13-20).
- The book of Acts centered on the church. In the book of Acts, those who are saved are added to the number of disciples (Acts 2:41). These believers meet together for worship and fellowship (Acts 2:42-47, 4:32-37). These churches even engage in spontaneous and strategic missions endeavors (Acts 8:4, 13:1-3).
- The New Testament is filled with “one another” passages. These verses cover a range of issues including living at peace with one another, not grumbling against each other, accepting each other, being patient with each other and forgiving each other. It’s hard to imagine a long-ranger Christian obeying these commands.
- The book of 1 John connects church to assurance. 1 John was written to those, “who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.” This book connects loving other believers to assurance of salvation (1 John 3:14-24). This love is played out in local church participation.
- The book of Revelation describes “church” in heaven. While Americans tend to think of heaven in individualistic ways, the book of Revelation consistently describes God and an assembly of redeemed people. Even in heaven, these people gather together to worship God as Creator and Savior (Revelation 4-5).
I know our relationship with God has to extend beyond the walls of a sanctuary. I know God’s people can be abrasive and hypocritical. I know the ritual of religion can keep people far from God even when they’re at church. I know sitting in a pew doesn’t magically change your relationship with God. However, I also know you need to go to church.