Are Christians supposed to go to every church service their church has?
Those who grew up in a Christian family may have heard phrases like, "If you can be out late the night before, you can get up early to go to church," or, "If the church doors are open, we will be there." It was a never a question of if we should be there, it was a requirement. However, in today's culture, where many churches have multiple services (for example on Sunday mornings and Saturday nights) all delivering the same message, it is not practical or expected to attend every one. Still, it is vitally important for your faith and relationship with Jesus to attend a church service on a regular basis. As Paul teaches us from the prophet Isaiah, "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ" (Romans 10:17).
So, does a Christian have to attend every service a church has? The straightforward answer is, "no." There is no command in the Bible that tells us we must have perfect attendance in order to gain acceptance from Christ. In fact, it will not even make us more godly if we attend all services. We do not earn merit with God because we have perfect attendance. Our only guarantee of eternity is that which John the Baptist proclaimed about Jesus: "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him" (John 3:36). It is grace that saves us, not our church attendance (Ephesians 2:8; Acts 15:11).
While we certainly do not want to attend church out of obligation or feeling pressured, we must understand that church attendance is important to our walk with Christ. The church is God's plan for His people (Matthew 16:18–19). The church is best understood as the global body of believers in Jesus Christ, but this body is to meet together locally on a regular basis for corporate worship, teaching, fellowship, and prayer (Acts 2:42). The writer of Hebrews encouraged, "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near" (Hebrew 10:24–25).
Fellow believers are our brothers and sisters in Christ. We should desire to spend time with one another, seeking a deeper relationship with Christ, "addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart" (Ephesians 5:19). There is no question that we find strength, comfort, nourishment, and joy in our church community. Christians are called to bear one another's burdens (Galatians 6:2), mourn and rejoice together (Romans 12:15), confess to one another (James 5:16), help restore those who wander (Galatians 6:1; James 5:19–20), pray for each other (James 5:13–18), and do good to one another (Galatians 6:10), among other "one another" commands. How are we to love each other in these ways if we do not regularly gather together?
When we find a local church that we can call home, it is wise to be dedicated, involved, and supportive of the church and its mission. Consistency is key in regularly attending services, seeking ways to get involved in the different parts of the church and giving of your gifts (Romans 12:3–13). The church is not primarily an organization whose services you attend; it is a local body of believers of which Christians are called to be an active part. A committed believer will inherently have compassion and love for his brothers and sisters in Christ and unbelievers (1 John 4:21). When the people of the church come together to worship, giving thanks, praising God, praying, and learning together, God is glorified and our faith is strengthened. Our commitment to our local church should line up to how our heart feels.
Again, perfect attendance will not gain us direct entry into eternity. Perfect attendance is not required. There are acceptable reasons to miss church, but regularly attending church should be the norm. Our society is loaded with distractions, but we should not make excuses for not being part of a local church. Avoiding Christian fellowship or simply not feeling like it are not good reasons to skip church. Going to church regularly gives us opportunity to hear the truth of God's Word, to better understand His grace, and to tangibly experience His love. It also gives us the opportunity to use the gifts He's given us and to help advance His kingdom by serving others.
When deciding if we should attend a specific service offered by our local church, we must first take a look at the desires of our own hearts and what motivates us to worship in the church. If we are attending out of legalism or in order to garner favor with God, we need to remind ourselves of the truth of God's grace and remember that Christianity is not a merit-based religion, but a real relationship with a very real God. If we're reluctant because of past pain, we can bring that hurt to God and ask Him to help us heal from the ways we've been hurt. If we don't want to attend for selfish or sinful reasons, we can submit those to God and ask Him to help us have right priorities. When our hearts are seeking the things of God, He will lead us.
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