By Pastor Matthew Recker
Church attendance is dropping nationwide. Many think they are perfectly justified. They offer many excuses, but here are some common ones:
1.“Someone said or did something to hurt me deeply.”
2.“I’ve got new interests.”
3.“I don’t like how the church treats people.”
4.“I’m not being fed” or “the church is not meeting my needs”
5.“I don’t need to change” (Unstated: “I’m under conviction, but I don’t want to give up my sin”)
The list is long and you can Google many articles that give you 15 or 25 reasons why people no longer go to church. Admittedly, all churches do make errors in dealing with others from time to time. They do sometimes hurt people, people’s needs are sometimes unmet, and we can all rationalize reasons that make sense to stop going to church. Nevertheless, the reasons above are all man-centered, and when man becomes the focus one can easily lose the desire to fellowship in a local assembly.
Often, the best reasons to continue faithfulness to a Bible believing local church seem unknown, perhaps because they are God-centered and we tend to be man-centered. Believers must continue in a local Bible-believing church for His glory. The church is the only institution He began and continues to grow until the end of the age. Many years ago, I embraced the conviction that Jesus began and will build His church until He returns. I decided that I wanted to be a part of what He is doing on earth. To do that, I need to be an active servant in His church. Here are a few “unknown reasons” why we must continue in church that go beyond our feelings and self-focus.
1. To Reveal God’s Wisdom in the Heavenly Places
Ephesians 3:10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God.
The principalities and powers in this passage speak of those demonic powers that we wrestle against in Ephesians 6:12. When we attend a public worship service, we let those wicked spirits, who seek to destroy us, know whose we are, where we stand, and whom we serve! Yes, the angelic world of demons is watching what we do, and when we worship, praising God in song, praying, giving, and hearing a message from the Scripture, we reveal the multi-faceted and multi-colored wisdom of God to them. Likewise, when a person decides to stay home from church, those wicked spirits see your weakness and know they have a greater opportunity to successfully attack with darts of doubt and temptation.
2. To Glorify God Publicly:
Ephesians 3:21 Unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
Corporate worship permeates the Bible and its vital focus is that God receive glory. This goes beyond how I feel about the pastor, a particular member, or even my own personal issues. Giving glory and praise to God in the church is going to happen throughout all the ages of time that remain on earth, and it will continue throughout the corridors of eternity. If you are at a football game on Sunday, at an amusement park, or catching up on your sleep, when you are not in the public assembly where He is being publicly glorified, you are missing something great and of eternal value. You miss something irreplaceable every time you miss church when you could have been there.
3. To Experience God’s Presence Uniquely:
1 Corinthians 3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
The Holy Spirit dwells in the public assembly of the saints in a special and unique way. The pronoun, “ye” is plural and thus relates to all the individual born again members who collectively gather together in the local church. While our individual body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19), so is the corporate body that gathers. In the passage above, Paul has the local church in view, and when many individuals indwelled by the Holy Spirit gather in one place, it is a special and unique gathering on every occasion. We cannot stay home, watching a service on TV and experience in the same way the powerful dwelling of the Holy Spirit upon the church body that publicly worships and praises God.
Yes, you can experience God in your personal life and private devotions. However, you experience God uniquely in the public worship of a local church.
4. To Obey “One Another” Commands Personally:
Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works; not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is.
There are various “one another” commands in the New Testament (Rom.15:7; Eph.4:32; Col.3:13, 16; 1 Thess.5:11; 1 Pet.1:22). We cannot encourage, receive, comfort, or love one another if we are at home watching a web site sermon with ear buds on. What keeps people faithfully serving in church is a servant’s heart and not an entitlement mindset.
5. To Give so God’s Word goes forth Universally
1 Corinthians 16:2 Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God has prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.
God commands us to put down our offerings in the local assembly on the first day of the week, which is Sunday. How can you do this if you stay at home? What if everyone stopped going to church? Without the local church, there would be no missionaries sent, no special needs provided for, and our world would be a dark place. We must give so God’s Word can go forth into our communities and into the world. Missions is still the mission of the church.
6. To Keep the Ordinances Faithfully
1 Corinthians 11:2; Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them unto you.
Only the local church can properly fulfil the ordinances of the Lord’s Supper and Baptism. We must keep them and encourage believers to obey them. It is not an option.
These often-unknown reasons are God-centered truth and not focused on man-centered feelings. Let’s love God, seek Him, and continue serving God in and through the local church. If you are considering leaving church, you should ask yourself, how will you obey God’s will in each of these six reasons, often unknown to the self-centered believer?
This blog also appears in Proclaim and Defend, the blog sight of the Foundations Baptist Fellowship International. http://www.proclaimanddefend.org/2017/10/30/tempted-to-quit-do-you-know-why-you-shouldnt/#more-6395