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Ok, but why?

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching

Hebrews 10:24-25

“I do want to go to church” they said.

…it’s always hard to convey tone of a spoken statement in written form, but let me put it this way: they didn’t sound particularly convincing, almost as though they were trying to convince themselves they meant what they were saying!

“Ok” I replied, “but why?” which I think caught them a little off-guard.

This was part of a conversation I had with a christian friend a while back who’s found it challenging to connect into a local christian community…for years, and for a variety of reasons (some practical, some personal, some spiritual). As is true for others - some who have sadly had very negative experiences of ‘church’, some who fell out of rhythm during the pandemic, some who don’t see the need, and others for whom their life circumstances seem to get it the way.

Let me be very clear...I don’t want to confuse attending a Sunday service with being the church. As we often say, we don’t go to church, we are the church! We, you and me, are the bride of Christ wherever we are, whenever we are!

But in response to that conversation, I thought I’d pen a few thoughts as to why I think gathering with other Christians to fellowship, worship God, sit under the Word, receive encouragement, and serve and be served, is important…it’s not an exhaustive list, but here are some of the reasons why:

1) It’s God’s primary design for our spiritual growth and well-being.

Whilst it may take on different shapes and forms, a central aspect of our Sundays is gathering around God’s word. Speaking the gospel to each other and proclaiming the scriptures, is God’s primary means for a disciple of Jesus to grow in spiritual maturity. If we are not regularly in settings where this is happening, we’re missing part of God’s process for spiritual growth.

2) We’re in danger of disobeying God.

Did the author of Hebrews have Sunday church services in mind when he penned the above verse (Her 10:24-25)? Maybe not in isolation, but I’m certain they fit into the category!

As God’s people, we ought to delight in and strive to keep God’s commands…including meeting together, encouraging one another, and spurring one another on toward love and good deeds. And out of love for our Christian brothers and sisters, we ought to encourage them to consider the same.

3) We make a statement to the world that God is not worthy of worship.

It’s an age-old adage…we spend our time on the things we truly value. If we make a habit of choosing other things ahead of gathering to God, what does that say about where He fits in our priorities?! Again, and as I’ve said before ‘going to church doesn’t make you a Christian anymore than sleeping in a garage makes you a car’, but it can communicate something to those around you about what you love and value.

4) We miss out on the opportunity to minister to others.

We’ve all been guilty of it (or maybe it’s just me!), but sometimes we think that corporate worship is only about having my spiritual needs met…and by extension, if I don’t have or am not aware of my spiritual needs, then I have no reason to attend. We live in a culture that can drive us towards individualism and self-centredness, but Jesus modelled an others-centred life, serving, helping, and encouraging others.

It’s not all about filling a spot on a roster, but every time we gather with others is a chance to bring a word of encouragement to someone who needs it, a warm welcome to someone who is new, a prayer for someone who is suffering, and to add your voice to the choir of heaven (Hebrews 12:22). Not to mention God has gifted each of us uniquely, and these gifts can be exercised and developed when we gather too!

5) We skip out of a foretaste of heaven.

John Piper summarised CS Lewis’ 'Reflections on the Psalms’ by saying: "God is most glorified in us when we are the most satisfied in him. The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying him forever."

Revelations gives us a picture of what is to come, no more pain sickness or sorrow, and we will worship (Rev 22). This is why the church was redeemed and what God’s people will do when Jesus returns to finish his work of renewal and restoration. In the meantime, I think of our gatherings like a string of streetlights on a dark road, lighting and guiding us home.

I realise I’m ‘preaching to the converted’, and perhaps there is nothing new here, and certainly much that I’ve left out. But the conversation with my friend gave me pause to remember why I believe Sunday gatherings are important, and I’m glad you do too.



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