Often, the question is asked, “Must I attend every service of the church?” Some feel that attending each week meets the criterion of faithful membership. But, the problem is one of heart. The question should be: “How much do I love God; how much do I love the brotherhood; how much do I love my soul and the crown of life awaiting the faithful?” The Christian, therefore, will reason thus: One, I will assemble regularly, for to praise God demonstrates and proves my love for Him and my gratitude for the marvelous sacrifice of Christ (John 14:15). To the Christian who lives in great anticipation of serving God day and night in His presence in Heaven, the privilege of serving Him in the assembly cannot come often enough (Rev. 5:19-14). To have to miss the Bible study/worship brings deepest regret. Why, the Christian will die for Christ, and certainly he will assemble faithfully in His presence with the brethren! Two, I will assemble regularly, for this helps me to be my brother’s keeper (Gen. 4:9). It helps to strengthen my marriage (Song of Solomon 8:6; Matthew 19:6-9; Hebrews 13:4). It helps me bring up my children in “the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). It helps me lead the lost to Christ (Matthew 28:19,20; Romans 7:4). It helps me restore the erring (James 5:19, 20). It helps me love the brotherhood (Hebrews 13:1). And, it helps me bear fruit (John 15), without which I shall be cut down (Luke 13:6-9). Three, I will assemble regularly, for this helps me to be “faithful unto death” (Revelation 2:10). I do not wish to be lost; my spiritual carcass must not litter the path of life. I attend, for it brings edification and encouragement, fortification and conviction. The knowledge gained and associations experienced enable me to overcome temptation. Studying at homer, though vital, cannot substitute for the strength derived from sharing the like precious faith with my brethren. That “tie that binds” is strengthened and my resolve is enhanced. I am human; I require the encouragement and brotherhood of others. I can then bear fruit and win the lost. I realize I am not alone; others are working for the Lord, as well. Four, I will assemble regularly, for this enables me to function as a priest (Revelation 1:6). I realize how unbecoming it is for a priest not to have a sacrifice of praise on every possible occasion (Hebrews 13:5), for I am a part of that “royal priesthood,” the church which was purchased by the precious blood of Christ (1 Peter 2:9; Acts 20:28). I am not my own, for I have been purchased and redeemed (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20); I will thus glorify God. My privilege is great, for I can, being a priest, “...therefore draw near with boldness unto the throe of grace, that we may receive mercy, and may find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). Five, I will assemble regularly, for this helps me put the kingdom “first” (Matthew 6:33). It shows “steadfastness” (1 Corinthians 15:58), offering my body as a “living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1,2). I “hunger and thirst after righteousness” (Matthew 5:6); it will help me be filled. My presence tells the preacher, “Your study and sacrifices are much appreciated; I will give heed to the oracles of God” (2 Peter 4:1). It tells the elders, “You certainly can count on me in the work of the church; I love you for watching in behalf of my soul” (Hebrews 13:17). It tells the Bible class teachers, “Your time of preparation will do me good” (2 Timothy 2:2). I will show appreciation for the regular feeding time established by the shepherds in the local church, who rule under the chief Shepherd, Christ (1 Peter 5:4; Hebrews 13:7; Acts 20:28). I attend the services because it is a command, but that is not my main reason for doing so. It is certainly true that I am commanded not forsake the assembling (Hebrews 10:25). But, I attend out of love for God and for the good it does for me. God will continue to be God, whether I worship Him or not. Note Psalms 50:12, where God observes, “If I were hungry, I would not tell thee; For the world is mine, and the fullness thereof.” Yes, my attendance helps the cause of Christ, but it especially helps me. Indeed, whether or not I attend every service has never been a subject of debate - I will be present, if at all possible!
I daresay that it is far more than likely, that just about every congregation of the Lord’s church whose leadership has decided to give their members the opportunity to get together and study the Bible either before or after their Sunday worship assembly, encounters virtually the same phenomenon every Lord’s Day: Bible class attendance numbers that are markedly less than that same Sunday’s worship assembly attendance numbers. Why is that? (Now, obviously I am not talking here about those few folks in each congregation whose physical health limitations prevent them from being there and sitting through both – Matt. 26:41b.)
Is it perhaps because some have come to the conclusion that worship assembly attendance is a requirement in order to get to heaven (which it is – Heb. 10:23-31), but that taking advantage of every opportunity possible to study God’s word and steadily grow in their faith after conversion, somehow isn’t all that important? Does not the Bible itself show that being in a constant and consistent state of Bible study, whenever possible and wherever the opportunity is presented, will provide both incredible earthly as well as eternal blessings to those who do so – including helping to guarantee their entrance into heaven? It certainly does (2 Pet. 1:2-11). What else does the Bible say about the importance of taking consistent advantage of every opportunity one possibly can to study it?
Yes, for all of these God-given reasons and more, it is easily seen that taking constant and continual advantage of every opportunity we possibly can to grow our faith through the study of God’s word (Rom. 10:17) is vital to our eternal life. Please consider coming and growing in your faith as we study God’s word together each Sunday and Wednesday as if your eternal life depended on it...because it does (2 Pet. 3:14-18).
Preachers should never have to preach on attendance. It should be obvious that when a Christian does not care to attend all the services, his interest is elsewhere. It is foolish to assert that we have a passage which pronounces anathema on those who don't come on Sunday and Wednesday nights. We don't need one. All we need show is that interest and attendance are connected and that a person who is truly interested will attend.
Now you can try to explain that away all you want and when you are finished it will still say the same thing: a person who is able yet does not attend the services is not interested in what is going on at the services. Bring your excuses, pronounce your justifications, and rationalize all you want. And when you are done, the parable of the sower will still affirm the same thing: prepared soil is the only kind which results in good fruit.