"I can catch the sermon online."
"My church streams their worship services online so I don't have to physically attend."
"I'm a Christian already. Church is just a 'bonus.'"
I am concerned for the souls of those professing Christians who do not prioritize church attendance at gospel-preaching churches. I have often wondered, if Jesus was living among us, in our neighborhoods, how often would he attend church? Can you picture Jesus skipping participating in the "The Lord's Day" gathering in order to sleep in, read the paper, while sipping his coffee? Can you picture him working at the mill or office instead? Or attending sports events?
How often would Jesus want to spend time with his bride, the church? How often would Jesus attend church if he was living among us today? Once a month? Twice a month? What do you think?
Make no mistake about it: attending church doesn't earn our salvation. But faithful church attendance does make a statement about our hunger for God and love for his people. Scott Sauls provides illustrative imagery:
“Imagine a man meets the woman of his dreams. He soon discovers, to his delight that he is also the man of her dreams. They spend time together, they fall in love, and he proposes marriage. She happily accepts. A month later, she invites him to attend her annual family reunion because she wants to introduce him to all her brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and cousins. At the family reunion, he discovers the unimaginable. Her father…wears boots that squeak. Her younger brother sings off-key. And her first cousin has a double chin. Furthermore, he discovers that several of her other relatives have high-pitched voices, voted for the wrong candidate, appreciate bad music, speak with unsophisticated accents, have bad breath, cheat on their tax returns, belch at the dinner table, are rude to the waiter, and aren’t very interested in him as a person…the thought of a future with her family members is simply unbearable to him.
‘You know that I adore you,’ he says to her. ‘But if we are going to move forward with this wedding, you need to know that I don’t ever want to see your mother, your father, your sisters, your brothers, your cousins, or any of your family members again. Can you marry me under these conditions?’”
The obvious answer is "no." The call to follow Jesus as a Christian is simultaneously the call to actively live within the community of a church.
"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 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 10:23-25