Church Attendance in the Last Days Don't Stop Going to Church
Summary: "Oh, we love the Lord. We just don't go to church." This is an increasingly common attitude among Christians in these latter days of the Church Age. But it's an outlook that deprives them of the many blessings Jesus intends to be found within the assembled church.
Hebrews 10:24-25 …not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing…
Living Bible Let us not neglect our church meetings, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near.
• The Holy Spirit-inspired Scripture is issuing a warning, especially to those living in the latter days of the Church Age ("now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near"). This charge from God is to “not neglect our church meetings … [our] meeting together”. Remember Jesus' warning that in the last days "...the love of most will grow cold" (Matthew 24:12). That will likely lead to an increasing avoidance of church attendance.
• There seems to be a drift in America, a slow but steady migration away from church attendance. Yes, I realize that some have left churches where they were personally hurt or offended. Others have left churches that they felt were “dead”. Still others may have succumbed to this latter-days danger that Jesus warned of — “the love of most will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12).
• The reasons for declining church attendance vary from person to person. My hope today is to offer some compelling biblical encouragements, some very positive and beneficial reasons why we should “not forsake the assembling of ourselves together”. Readers, if you are tempted at this point to check out, please give me just a few more minutes of your time. I promise you that what you will read is for your good, your benefit.
Luke 4:16 [Jesus] went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom.
• Jesus’ regular custom was to attend the “church” of His day, the synagogue. So Jesus was a living (and perfect!) example to us of the value of believers assembling together.
Acts 2:46-47 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
• The early Church in Jerusalem grew dramatically and began to have a favorable impact for God even across the northern Mediterranean regions.
• Their lives and their effective ministries were energized by their daily public and private gatherings — “in the temple courts … and in their homes”.
• Now let’s look at some of the wonderful benefits of Christians assembling together.
1 Corinthians 14:12b, 26b Since you are eager for gifts of the Spirit, try to excel in those that build up the church… [26b] When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.
• The assembled church experiences the edifying preaching and teaching of the word of God.
• When the church assembles, there is an opportunity for powerful, uplifting, corporate praise (“a hymn”).
Luke 24:51-53 While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.
• This was the worshipful atmosphere of the early Church that led into the dramatic events of the first, great New Testament Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4).
• As a pastor from New Zealand once said, Spirit-inspired worship can “crack the hardest heart in the place”.
Ephesians 4:11-12 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.
• Many today are not going to church because they feel like uninvolved spectators, with no meaningful role in the church. Sadly, that is true in many churches, where the attitude is “we pay the preacher, and he does the work.”
• But God’s intention is that the these five named ministers in the churches train and equip the congregation's people, so “[that they should do] the work of ministering” (vs. 12, Amplified).
1 Corinthians 11:33, Amplified So then, my brothers, when you gather together to eat [the Lord’s Supper], wait for one another.
• The communion, the Lord’s Supper, is an occasion for great unity and common devotion to the person of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
• Many have also taught that there is divine healing available in the partaking of the communion (1 Corinthians 11:23-30, especially vs. 30).
John 13:34-35 A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
1 John 3:18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
• It’s easy to talk about loving people. The important thing is to put love into action.
• The gathering of believers presents numerous opportunities to express love in action. You can sit and encourage someone who is going through difficult times. You can arrange to bring a meal to a new mother. You can hear of a sick member and take time to go to his house to pray for him. Many similar opportunities are discovered when the saints get together. There will always be needy people present! And that allows you to reach out to them with the love of God.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Praise be to … the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
• God comforts us. That is wonderful. But in doing so, God has at least two motives. The first is to bless us directly with His gracious comfort. The second is to have us take that God-given comfort and share it with others needing a touch from the Lord. The assembled congregation, I guarantee, will have some present who are needing a word of encouragement and comfort.
• I recall clearly, 38 years ago, when my late wife and I were in a church service shortly after my wife’s mother had died of cancer. Two different ladies came up to her after the service and spent a few minutes grieving with her and offering their love and comfort. Both ladies were older and served as comforting “mother figures” to my wife for those few moments, as she mourned the loss of her own mother. There will be many such opportunities for you to be a bearer of God’s comfort to those in the church who are going through similar difficult times.
In closing, permit me a few brief comments on the concept of “strength in numbers” as it applies to the Lord’s Church. Be encouraged personally to be a part of those numbers. You need the church, and the church needs you!
• Matthew 18:19-20 …if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.
• There’s great power in even a small number of believers gathered in Jesus’ name. If they agree together in asking the Lord, He will grant their petition. When even “two or three” are together in His name, Jesus said he was in their very midst.
• Ecclesiastes 4:9, 12Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor …  Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
• Again, there is strength in numbers. Don’t be one who isolates himself from fellow believers. Such a “one may be overpowered”. But two together can mount a defense, and we are indeed in a spiritual warfare against our “adversary the devil” (1 Peter 5:8). And a threefold cord, says the word of the Lord, is not easily broken.
Be willing to obey God’s command and to go against the modern tide that is forsaking church attendance. As we have seen, there is much value in believers assembling together.
• We can both give and receive helpful encouragement.
• We follow the matchless example of our Savior, who was a regular attender of His synagogue, the Jewish predecessor of our Christian local church.
• We profit from the example of the early Church that Jesus founded, as we see them meeting daily(!), both in the public assembly and in one another’s homes.
• In the church service we experience Holy Spirit-anointed preaching and teaching of God’s word.
• Worshipful praise to God uplifts our spirits and provides an opportunity to experience the presence of God.
• We are benefited and edified by the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit.
• Through the pastors and other “fivefold ministries” in our churches we are trained and equipped so that we too may be able ministers of the Gospel.
• We share in the unifying blessings of the Lord’s Supper, the communion.
• In the assembled congregation we find numerous occasions to demonstrate love in action, not just in words.
• We are able to share God’s comfort with those who desperately need it.
• The bible clearly teaches a spiritual fulfillment of the old saying that there is “strength in numbers”.
• Determine to be committed to a local church. That’s where you will not only find that corporate strength, but you also will contribute to it by your presence.