Isn't Sunday Morning Enough?
I don’t recall anyone every asking me this question so bluntly, but I’m sure it’s crossed many people’s minds. They are just getting settled into Sunday morning worship after a hectic morning, and the pastor is giving a sales pitch for the evening service or some other special event. As the pastor speaks, the frazzled member thinks, “I’m having a hard enough time getting to one service, and you want me to come back tonight?” Maybe that’s you. The idea of attending 2 or 3 or 4 church services a week is a foreign concept, and you don’t see the value of doing so. Or maybe you are on the other end of the spectrum, and you attend every service possible, but you have never considered why you do so. Or maybe you are somewhere in between. Regardless, it is good for us to evaluate why we do what we do.
Therefore, over the next few weeks we are planning to post 4 articles regarding church attendance. This article will give general arguments regarding why you should consider attending multiple services. The second post will articulate the benefits of attending Sunday School, and the third and fourth post will do the same for the Sunday night and Wednesday night services. I want to preface this series by saying that the Bible never tells us how many services we should attend. I also recognize that everyone’s circumstances are different. Some people have limitations that restrict their ability to be in church; therefore, attending more services does not necessarily equate to greater godliness. But regardless of where you are, I hope these posts will challenge you to prayerfully evaluate your current practice and to determine before God to do what you believe will be most pleasing to him. With that in mind, I’d like to offer 5 reasons you should consider attending multiple church services each week.
- The world, the flesh, and the devil, are evil and destructive.
Sometimes we like to believe that we live in a relatively neutral world and that all we need to maintain spiritual health is some occasional maintenance. But the Bible is clear that the world around us is anything but neutral. Every time we turn on the TV or connect to the Internet we are bombarded with messages that oppose godly values, and Satan works masterfully through the world system to corrupt our hearts. Even if we could somehow cut ourselves off from the evil influences of the world and the devil, we can’t eliminate the influence of our own sinful hearts. Your sin nature is constantly pushing you to live for yourself rather than for God and to pursue immediate gratification rather than God’s eternal purpose.
Since we live every moment of our lives under the steady tug of sin, we should view every opportunity to gather with the church as an opportunity to scrub off a layer of evil influence. The Bible tells us that this is a necessary means of counteracting the pull of sin. Hebrews 10:25 states, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” God tells us that as the world grows darker, we need to lean more and more on the fellowship of the church to counteract its influence. In other words, as the world gets worse, God tells us that we need to be with the church more and more.
- God’s Word is valuable.
First Peter 2:2 commands us, “As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby.” When a baby is hungry for milk, it will not rest until it gets some, and it feels such desperation that it won’t let anyone else rest either. Do you desire the Bible like that? Do you see it as your necessary food that you must have to survive? If you do, then you ought to hunger to be under the preaching and teaching of the Scriptures as much as possible. You shouldn’t demand proof that you should go to church; you should be eager to be whenever you can be.
It grieves me when Christians are feeling worn down with life, and they think that taking a nap or watching a movie will do more good than sitting under the teaching of God’s Word. Relaxation may make you feel more rested in the moment, and it certainly has its place, but it won’t build a strong spiritual foundation that will sustain you when life gets hard. Only God’s Word applied by the Spirit gives that kind of strength. Therefore, valuing a quiet night at home over the teaching and preaching of God’s Word is as shortsighted as living off a diet of cotton candy and Kool-Aid. Eventually you are going to crash.
- You need the fellowship of the church.
I am committed to the principle that the central feature of the assembly is the preaching and teaching of the Bible. But the NT is clear that gathering with the church also benefits us in other ways. Ephesians 5:19 states that we speak truth to each other when we sing. When Hebrews 10:25 states that we are “exhorting one another” when we gather, it describes participation of all of the members in building each other up through conversation and other types of interaction.
Time and time again I have received grace at the hand of a brother or sister in Christ through an edifying word they spoke after a service. I’ve grown as a parent by watching other parents in action during church events. And just the fact that we are all together worshipping the Lord is a reminder that I’m not alone. In light of the darkness of the world, there are multitudes of ways I benefit from the fellowship I receive in the assembly, some of which I may not appreciate in the moment. Again staying in bed a little longer or reclining on your couch may bring more immediate relief, but in the long-term it can’t match the benefit of fellowship with the church.
- The church needs your ministry and your participation.
Most Christians in our circles believe that they need to be in the primary worship service of the church. They are right. God commands us to worship with the church. But they take a more pragmatic approach when considering whether or not they will attend other services. In particular, they will come if the topic at hand interests them or if they think it will help them. But if they don’t think they will benefit from the teaching, they don’t see the value in attending.
However, we can benefit anytime the Scriptures are opened, we sing praise to God, or we fellowship together. But even if you received no benefit from a service, there is still good reason to attend because attending church is never just about what I receive. God expects every Christian to walk into the assembly with a heart to edify (1 Cor 14). Just being there faithfully is a great encouragement to your pastor and the other people in the congregation. Your singing adds to the worship. And the more you are with the church intentionally cultivating significant relationships, the more opportunities God will open for you to have significant ministry.
- Church attendance communicates values to your family.
When I was in 3rd grade, I really wanted to play Little League baseball, but the games conflicted with our church’s midweek service. I distinctly remember my mother telling me that the church takes priority in our family and that I wouldn’t be able to play. I was disappointed, and I didn’t necessarily agree, but I received a clear message about what mattered in our family and about what it means to be committed to Christ and his church.
I’m not saying that there aren’t legitimate reasons to miss church, but parents, what are your kids learning based on your church attendance? Are they learning that Christ matters more than success or finances? Are they learning that Christ satisfies the soul more than rest and relaxation? Or are they learning that the church isn’t that important because God isn’t that important?
The NT is clear that every Christian needs to make the local church a central priority to life, and one of the simplest ways you can do that is to be with the church as often as possible. I hope that you will prayerfully evaluate your practice in light of every legitimate factor that affects you and your family and that you will throw yourself into the life of the church.