HCC Theological Survey: Is Church Attendance Essential for Spiritual Growth

The final question in our HCC Theological survey involves church attendance. Is it really necessary to attend church services? In previous generations such a question would not have been asked, as faithful participation in Sunday services was the norm. In today’s post-modern generation, though, everything, even religious norms are up for grabs.
Thom Rainer from Lifeway addressed this point in a recent podcast. He said, “Stated simply, the number one reason for the decline in church attendance is that members attend with less frequency than they did just a few years ago.” In other words there are not less people attending church, rather church members are attending less.
Obviously, many believers have come to the conclusion that church attendance is not necessary. They believe they can worship the Lord and be faithful in their walk whether they attend worship services or not. Is that true, though? Is worship essential for your spiritual growth?
My answer is, “Yes!” I believe that faithful church attendance is not only important, but also necessary for the individual as well as for the body of believers.   Here are several biblical reasons.
  • Church attendance is commanded in Scripture – Hebrews 10:25a
The writer of the Hebrew epistle tells us to “not neglect meeting together.” Apparently, some of the believers had been absenting themselves from the church fellowship. Yet, this letter gives a clear response to such unfaithfulness. Yes, Church attendance is vital, not only for us, but for others as well.
  • Church attendance results in a special manifestation of the Lord’s presence – Matthew 18:20
Whenever believers gather together and Jesus is the object of prayer, worship, praise, preaching, Communion, etc., He honors such an assembly with His divine presence. In such a gathering, Christ is able to do things in hearts that He may not do at any other time. The Bible says in Psalm 22:3 that God inhabits the praises of His people. Why would you want to miss a gathering where God was going to show up?
  • Church attendance demonstrates our love for Jesus – Psalm 22:22
Going to church is a tangible expression of our love and worship to our Lord Jesus Christ. The local assembly is where we can gather with other believers to publicly bear witness of our faith. In Psalm 22:22 the psalmist wrote, “I will tell of Your name to my brothers; In the midst of the congregation I will praise You.”
  • Church attendance honors the Lord’s Day – I Cor. 16:2
Unfortunately, many view Sunday as their day, their opportunity to get things done, have family activities or catch up on their rest.   I believe, though, that it is very important to have a day that is dedicated to the Lord. In the fourth commandment of the Old Testament law God set aside the seventh day of the week, Saturday, as a holy day to the Lord. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Ex. 20:8). This was, and will always remain, the official Sabbath. However, after Jesus rose from the dead on Sunday, the early Christians began meeting together on Sunday as well as on Saturday. History demonstrates that due to the conflict that existed between orthodox Jews and Christian Jews, the Jewish Christians were eventually ostracized. They came to view Sunday as a combined observance of the Sabbath and the resurrection day of Jesus (Acts 20:7, 1 Cor. 16:2). This day of Christian worship came to be called the Lord’s Day (Rev. 1:10), a day to fellowship in celebration of the resurrection, to worship, pray and study the God’s Word together.
  • Church attendance benefits others – Hebrews 10:25b
Often we view church attendance from the wrong angle. We emphasize that we don’t need it; we are strong enough to go without it. The emphasis on this verse, though, is not on what the believer gets from the assembly, but rather on what he/she can contribute to the assembly.  You might not need church, but there are church attenders that need you. How many opportunities for encouragement and for prayer do we miss because of unfaithfulness?   This verse states that your faithful attendance encourages others and provokes them to good works. We attend because of others!
  • Church attendance provides accountability to spiritual leaders – Hebrews 13:7
One final piece of evidence that proves that we’re to be a part of a church fellowship is that we’re told to submit to the authority of spiritual leaders (Of course, they are subject to God’s Word). “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will one day have to give an account…” God graciously designed this system of accountability for the growth and protection of His flock.
Quite frankly, many Christians are asking the wrong question. The question should not be “is church attendance necessary, but rather, how often can I get together with my faith family?”   As we approach the Second Coming of Jesus our motivation should be to meet with fellow believers as often as possible. He is worthy of our worship!





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