Yesterday, I started a series of posts on why people go to church. Studies show us that large portions of the population claim to have a strong relationship with Jesus yet studies also show that large portions of the population rarely or never go to church.
Today, I continue that discussion.
Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Why Christians SHOULD Go to Church
The writer of Hebrews gives us two reasons people should go to church and two obstacles that must be overcome.
- We go to church for encouragement
- We go to church because time is running out.
- We must overcome habit.
- We must overcome peer-pressure.
We go to church for encouragement
Instead of “giving up” on the gatherings, the passage calls us to come together to encourage one another. There is something powerful when believers get together. Currently, at my church, I am teaching a series of messages on the fact that the Holy Spirit of God consistently works most powerfully in the context of community. There is great power when Christians gather together, and that power is for the encouragement of us all.
Consider what Paul says about the working of the Spirit:
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. — 1 Corinthians 12:7
A major reason we gather is for our mutual encouragement.
We go to church because the time is short.
Of course, this passage was written two thousand years ago, and now we are two thousand years closer to the time when Christ returns. The time is even shorter now!
I see in this line something about the purpose of church gatherings that we don’t hear much about. These gatherings are supposed to be motivational. If the time is short, then we need to get moving! Sitting around wasting time isn’t doing any of us any good. The purpose of church is to be a shot in the arm or a kick in the pants for us to get real and get going with what we say we believe.
I also see here that our gatherings should have some component of strategic thinking as well. If the time is short, then we need to more effectively use the time we have, and quite frankly, we can’t use our time wisely unless we are meeting together to strategize and plan and coordinate our efforts.
Why it’s Hard to Go to Church
The writer of Hebrews also mentions two reasons people don’t go to church. Some people develop a habit of not joining with other Christians while other people get sucked into that habit by observing the behavior of the first group.
These things happen naturally when the first two things are missing. In the absence of strategic thinking and cooperative motivation, people tend to fade away from the meetings and develop a habit of not going. Then, their absence is a reverse encouragement, a kind of peer pressure for other people to also stop going. The habit forms a feedback loop leading people away from church.
Some people have had bad experiences with church, but I would venture to say that the vast majority of Christians who don’t go to church are out of the habit because the church they had attended wasn’t behaving with passion, urgency, and strategic thinking in an encouraging environment.
Test your church
As I think about my own church, I’m convicted to keep us moving forward, to develop an encouraging spirit among our people and to get some strategic thinking going all the time so that we have a greater sense of urgency and momentum. That’s the way to live out Hebrews 10:25 in our day.
What about you? How is your church doing? What can you do to be an encouragement to others and to raise the urgency temperature in your church?
to be continued
Today, I dealt with the question of why people should go to church. Tomorrow, I’ll deal with the psychology of why Christians go to church when they do, and then, I’ll address why non-Christians go to church when they do.