Why Do We Need To Go To Church?

Why Do We Need To Go To ChruchIn this era of modern technology and innovations in communication, the question may be raised: do we really need to go to church? Why not stay home and watch it on the Internet, or catch a television service, whether on national TV, or our local service which may be televised. There are many good reasons why we need to be there in person, both from scriptural mandates and practical considerations.

We are commanded to meet together
Often when a preacher wants to reinforce the need for church attendance, he will quote the trustworthy scripture reference from Hebrews 10:24-25 about “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some.” But there are numerous other scriptures in the New Testament that command us to engage in various activities that can only be done in person, with two or more believers being physically together. The assumption that the believers are meeting together is made throughout the New Testament, including I Corinthians 14:26-40, Colossians 3:16, and Ephesians 5:18-20.

We need the “one another” connection
There are more than fifty verses in the New Testament that tell us what we need to do for one another as Christians. While it is possible that some of these can be done to some extent by telephone or text messaging, most of these involve relational conversation, praying for others, laying on of hands, and other personal ministry. These include but are not limited to encouraging one another, praying for one another, carrying each other’s burdens, serving one another, loving one another, confessing our sins to one another, greeting one another with a holy kiss (does not lend itself to texting), admonishing one another, honoring one another, washing one another’s feet, teaching one another, and being kind and compassionate to one another. There are far too many references to list here, but most if not all of these are best performed in the sanctuary or home Bible study setting.

We need fellowship
When we miss church we miss the fellowship of the saints. In the New Testament, the Greek word “koinonia” was first used in the context of describing the day to day activities of the early Christians in Acts 2:42-47, which says, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the communion, to the breaking of bread and to prayer…All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need…They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.”

We need prayer for healing and impartation of spiritual gifts
According to James 5:13-16, we are to pray for one another and are to call for the elders to pray over us and anoint us with oil for physical and spiritual healing. In I Timothy 4:14 Paul exhorts Timothy to stir up the gift that was within him by the laying on of hands by the presbytery. All of these activities require us to be physically present to get the benefit that God intends for us.

We need to be present for communion
While it may be possible to sit at home and try to partake of communion, it would be similar to having a son who is the starting quarterback on the team that eventually wins the Super Bowl, and he already bought tickets and paid for the travel expenses to Dolphins Stadium, and we decide instead to just stay home and watch the game on television.

We need to be present for counseling, questions and answers, and feedback
Some of these activities are more appropriate in a home Bible study setting, or before and after services in the sanctuary. But these are elements we would miss out on if we do not attend the service in person.

We need the Body
If the leadership of the church had the responsibility to do the work of the ministry, then the on-line church attendance model might work to some extent. But according to Ephesians 4:11-12 NKJV, “He himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry.” The leadership does the equipping; we (the saints) do most of the work of the ministry. We need to be there for the training and to minister to others.

We need the support of others
Although the fact that God has commanded us to assemble together for worship, fellowship and teaching, and this in itself should be enough to settle the issue, God in his wisdom and love has given us these admonitions for our own good, and because he knows that we need fellowship and the support of other believers if we are to succeed in our Christian walk. For example, Joe and Jane Christian may decide once and for all that they are going to stop being couch potatoes, and begin a regimen to work out and become physically fit for the New Year. They spend a lot of money on an expensive membership in a gym that has all of the latest equipment and personal trainers, and they go to the gym enthusiastically twice a week for a couple of months. But then by April 1 of the New Year, they suddenly decide that instead of actually going to the gym to work out, they are going to watch rigorous workout training on television or on-line, and try to follow along. This seems to work for a short time, but without the atmosphere of being with others who have the same physical fitness goals, and without a personal trainer or spotter to come alongside them and encourage them, they find themselves falling by the wayside, and becoming more and more sedentary. By the end of the year, they are confirmed couch potatoes again and are content to simply watch others exercise on TV as they sit and eat chips and ice cream.

This obviously would not make any sense, but that is equivalent to the argument about watching a church service on-line instead of in person. The live church service has all of the best equipment for spiritual training, there are others to come alongside and encourage us when we are becoming lazy, and most importantly the price of the membership in the Kingdom has already been paid, and is a free gift. Not using these spiritual training tools is like never using the expensive gym membership for physical training, which only profits little in the end to be physically fit. The cost of following Jesus includes obeying his commands, or we will not be (spiritually) fit for the Kingdom. (Luke 9:62)

We would miss the presence of God
Although God is omnipresent and is obviously there with us as we watch a service on-line or on television, there is a special way that he chooses to grace us with his presence whenever and wherever two or more are gathered in his name (Matthew 18:20). According to Psalm 22:3 NKJV, God inhabits the praises of his people, literally, “You are holy, enthroned in the praises of Israel.” Corporate worship is one of the key elements that we miss out on if we miss the live church service. Let us be faithful to obey the commands of scripture as we continue to work together to see the Kingdom of God established on earth, as it is in heaven.

Where do you call your church home and why? Email us at [email protected] and tell us all about it!

Bob Woods is a Senior Project Manager at AECOM Technical Services, as well as a published Christian author. He can be reached at [email protected].


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