by Dub McClish
There is surely more to being faithful to the Lord of heaven and earth than “church attendance” but can one be faithful to Him without it? Is it necessary (to please God, to grow spiritually, to be saved) for one to assemble faithfully with the saints? If the New Testament teaches anything, it answers “yes”! We are obviously not speaking of the sick and shut-ins and others who are hindered beyond their control, but those who are able to come. We aren’t merely asking if the preacher or elders care, but does God care? Consider the following:
Lord’s Day assembly: Saints are commanded to partake of the Lords supper to remember Christ (1 Corinthians ). The apostolic example (Acts 20:7) and uninspired early church history confirm that the church ate the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week. To provide the money needed to do the work of the church, the saints were commanded to give of their money every first day of the week (1 Corinthians 16:1-2). These things were to be done “everywhere in every church” (1 Corinthians ). To willfully miss the Lords Day assembly is to disregard these commands.
Other assemblies. What about Sunday evening, Sunday morning Bible school or Wednesday night? Are such meetings scriptural or unscriptural? Various meetings besides Sunday were held in the early church with apostolic approval (Acts ; ; , etc.). It is certain that such additional meetings for study, worship and fellowship (gospel meeting series, vacation Bible schools workshops, etc.) greatly strengthen those who attend them and do untold good. In spite of scriptural precedent and practical need for these meetings, some still weakly cling to the “Lords Supper only” approach to church attendance.
A direct command As clearly as the New Testament teaches not to commit adultery, not to steal, or not to murder, it teaches “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together” (Hebrews ). To forsake is not the same as merely being absent. The sick man will be absent without forsaking the assembly if he would have been there except for sickness. To forsake is to abandon for something deemed more important. It is mere speculation to limit this command only to the Lords Day assembly. Whenever there is a meeting of the saints at which we could be exhorted to pure living we ought to be there. Moreover, we ought to want to be there!
Miscellaneous principles Lovers of God have always cherished worship and study opportunities (Psalms 42:1-4; 84:1-2, 10; Matthew 5:6). Can one “seek first the kingdom” while forsaking its assemblies? (Matthew 6:33). Does God care where we are when the saints meet?