Is Church Attendance Required?
During the year of 2020 I have watched many walk away from weekly Christian church attendance and they felt 100% justified in doing so.
I pondered, the week of the crucifixion and resurrection anti-Christian sentiment was throbbing in Jerusalem. Even with open hatred and hostility against believers, Jesus’ disciples assembled themselves together. They were both surprised and blessed by a personal appearance of Jesus among them (Mark 16:14). Instead of hiding behind locked doors, Jesus commanded the disciples to “Go ye into all the world” in Matthew 16:15. This was the example set by the early church which changed religious gatherings from meeting on the Sabbath day (Saturday) to meeting together on the Lord’s Day (Sunday). That has been the standard for approximately 2000 years.
Hebrews 10:25 commands us to “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
Let’s take a closer look at what is being said here. This first phrase “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is” divides believers into two distinct categories. The first category would be those who do not forsake assembling and the second category is those whose manner it is to forsake the assembling together. Of course, we know that anyone can miss a week in church and that is not abnormal or grounds for condemnation. However, when we can miss 6, 8, 10 consecutive months, one would have to place that person in the group whose manner is to forsake the assembling together.
The second phrase of the verse give us further instruction which would only apply to those whose manner it is not to forsake assembling as a community of believers. It instructs us while in the local assembly to be “exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” Paul characterized the last days as being perilous times. In Matthew 24:7 Jesus said the last days would be characterized by “…famines, and pestilences (pandemics), and earthquakes in divers places.” Considering this, we are given very specific instructions from the Holy Spirit that we should assemble ourselves “so much the more as we see that day coming.”
2020 has been a testing year and it put many in conflict with the Word of God. Unfortunately, 2021 promises more of the same. I encourage us all to make sure that we don’t become convinced that walking away from Christian fellowship is the right thing to do. No matter how we have responded in these challenging times, the Lord has promised us this: “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you…” James 4:8