If you’re no longer attending church, what caused you to leave? Was someone unkind to you? Were the messages not meeting your needs? Was the music not to your taste? Did you have a doctrinal disagreement? Were you starting to get lazy? When was the last time you “tried” church?
Someone told me he had a bad experience in church so he stopped attending altogether. I responded that I had a bad experience at a restaurant so I don’t eat out anymore. That’s just as ludicrous, don’t you think? So something happened at your church. You can deal with it, or depart…but to stop worshipping only punishes you. Find some other place to grow spiritually; otherwise you may well stop growing.
Church has resources for spiritual growth. Here’s an analogy: you can work out without using a gym and you can learn without going to school, but these “institutions” make it easier. They’re designed to do so. In the same way, the church helps us be what God wants us to be.
This brings up the argument I hear that “I can be a Christian on my own.” Individualism is a big thing today. People rely on technology more than community. But how are you growing if not at church? Do you faithfully pray and read the Bible? Do you listen to Christian music? Do you read Christian books? Go on religious websites? What do you do about the Lord’s Supper? And what are you doing to serve the Lord?
Some people stop attending church because they’re unhappy with the only “version” of the church they’ve known. One advantage I’ve had as an Army Chaplain is seeing the vast diversity of worship styles—contemporary, traditional, liturgical, Gospel, emerging, charismatic, blended, and so on. I recently read a book by a woman who visited a different church every Sunday of the year. There are a lot of varying styles. Churches are somewhat like restaurants, when you come to think of it. They’re not all the same.
A former interim pastor of my church told me, “If you really love the Lord, you’ll crawl on your hands and needs to get to church.” Sounds a bit harsh, but get the intent—if we’re really are committed to Christ, we won’t let anything interfere with this necessity. We need what the church supplies. John Calvin said “You can’t have God as your Father without the church as your mother.” Going on your own is playing games with God. We need one another. Paul in the book of Romans says we need to “rejoice with those rejoicing and weep with those who weep.” Church supplies a place to do just that.
Worship isn’t optional. The bottom line is this: We worship because God deserves it, we need it, and Scripture commands it.
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