I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go into the house of the LORD.” (Psalm 122:1, NKJV)
It’s Sunday and many reading this devotion will be heading to church soon. Like the psalmist, do you feel anticipation and joy because you will be worshiping with other believers today? I hope so. After all, the Lord loved us so much He willingly sacrificed His life for us, the church (Ephesians 5:25). I feel blessed to have the opportunity and the freedom to make my way to a house of worship today.
Sadly, not everyone shares that same eagerness. Within the past twenty years, church attendance in America has dropped significantly. According to The Barna Group research, just one in four Americans consider themselves a practicing Christian (https://www.barna.com/research/changing-state-of-the-church/). That means seventy-five percent do not feel an active faith is important in their life or they are non-believers. After I read these statistics, I began to consider why I feel church attendance is extremely important to me.
Perhaps the number one reason I attend church is God’s Word tells us to gather together. Hebrews 10:25 admonishes, “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.” According to this verse, God expects us to participate in corporate worship; and the closer we get to the end time, the more important it becomes.
Why is attending church so beneficial? Here are just a few of the reasons I jotted down. Please add any you feel should be on this list.
- We hear the preached Word of God, which feeds our soul.
- We worship with fellow believers.
- We receive, and give, encouragement and strength.
- We demonstrate to our children the importance of coming together.
- We stir each other up to love and good works.
- We collectively serve as an example to our community.
- We are following the example of Jesus.
I realize not everyone has the privilege of attending church. Age, illness, or other situations may hinder some, but fortunately many can avail themselves of online services. For that I’m thankful as it has been a blessing to some of my shut-in friends. But there are others, brothers and sisters you will never meet this side of heaven, who live in countries where Christianity is forbidden. Christianity Today states in an online article that 309 million Christians live in places with very high or extreme levels of persecution. Those believers would love to have the freedom to openly walk through church doors and worship with fellow believers.
Perhaps you woke up this morning feeling a little tired, a little stressed out from a busy week. Then you thought, Maybe I’ll just skip church today. Missing once in a while isn’t a big deal. What if the privilege of attending church was suddenly taken away? What if you weren’t allowed to teach your children about God? What if you were tortured or killed for your faith? Would church become more important then?
Yes, when Sunday rolls around, I am thankful for the privilege of jumping into my car, driving a few miles, and walking through the doors of my church. My friends will meet me there, and most importantly, God will meet me there. I am blessed.
(“The 50 Countries Where It’s Most Dangerous to Follow Jesus in 2021,” Christianity Today, January 13, 2021, https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2021/january/christian-persecution-2021-countries-open-doors-watch-list.html. Accessed 9/16/21.)