How important is Church attendance? Is it optional or is regular Sunday worship an imperative for the Believer? I've had conversations with many people over the years who have emphatically denied Church attendance is required in order to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Yet, to be a follower of Jesus Christ is by definition to be living a life in obedience to His commands.
© 2003 By D. Eric Williams
Some claim the only place the Bible addresses the issue of Church attendance is in Hebrews 10:24-25. In this passage we're told to be sure and assemble together so as to exhort and encourage one another on a regular basis. The "you only told me once" excuse for not following instructions may be expected of small children. However, it doesn't hold water for the many adults who feel justified in neglecting Church simply because they're only aware of a single direct command to assemble - a command given in a seemingly off hand manner.
In the first place, we should be mature enough to do what we are told by our Lord no matter how few times He requests it and regardless of the ostensibly casual fashion in which it's conveyed. Secondly, the Hebrews 10 passage isn't the only place we are commanded to assemble with other Believers for worship.
This short column doesn't allow space enough to engage in a thorough-going study of how we are to apply the old testament in this new age. Suffice it to say the principles of the older testament remain valid in their "Christocentric" fulfillment (Matthew 5:17). For instance, there is no longer a geographical location which is mandated as the single worldwide place of worship for the people of God (cf. John 4:21-ff). In this age, the single "location" of worship is Christ Jesus Himself - the true temple, the true land of promise - and He is present wherever two or more Believers are gathered. Yet the charge to regularly assemble for worship remains in force. The appearance of true worship has changed; it's necessity remains the same.
Suppose we discard the older testament and allow only the new testament as a guide concerning the necessity of Church attendance, what do we find then? Well, in addition to the Hebrews 10 passage already noted, we see the Church described as the "body of Christ" (Romans 12:4-5, 1 Corinthians 12:12-ff, etc.). There isn't a need for fancy language to explain the obvious: if you separate one part of a body from the whole, it dies. Likewise, if a Christian neglects corporate worship, he will die spiritually. Church attendance is not an option. If you are a born again Believer, a follower of Jesus Christ, you must participate in regular Church attendance.
I'm not suggesting that if you miss a Sunday once in a while then you're a black hearted sinner worthy of public condemnation. Nor am I attempting to mandate a minimum number of services one must attend per month to remain in good standing before the throne of heaven. I am saying it's necessary to attend Church regularly in order to be walking in obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ. A desire to quibble over a legalistic interpretation of a principle often reveals a rebellious heart. So, rather than debate minimum requirements, why not get up off your hind-end and go to Church this Sunday instead?