Check out this week’s podcast on Fellowship! https://anchor.fm/jasmine-lozano4/episodes/Boot-Camp-The-Importance-of-Fellowship-eujl2r
You need to go to church. Period. No nice introduction or anecdote, no statistics or kind encouragement. If you are physically able, you need to take your body to church.
As I’m writing this post, I am aware that many churches have been closed for a period of time due to the coronavirus pandemic. During this time, many believers have had to worship around their TVs, computers and phones.
Technology really came through! Many churches were forced to rethink their approach to reaching the masses and as a result, many were able to reach more people than ever before.
My husband and I love watching other services online. We like to see what other churches are doing, what their stages look like, what they’re teaching, the songs they’re singing.
But as much as I enjoy watching different services online, there is nothing like being in the physical house of the Lord. While I’m grateful that we were still able to worship virtually during the time it was necessary, we were never meant to walk this Christian journey alone.
Paul had Silas. Mary had Martha. Peter had James and John. And we need connection. It is so important to be surrounded by people who can help encourage you and strengthen you when you need it.
Jackie Hill-Perry said it best. “God himself has never been alone. He has Jesus and the Holy Spirit. We are never less like God than when we isolate ourselves.”
The Bible is full of examples of believers gathering for worship and encourages us to stay connected. Hebrews 10:25 ESV says, “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.”
When I first became a believer, I lived at the church! Youth chaperon needed? Sign me up! Sunday night classes? I was there. I wanted to learn everything I could about faith and how to live this new life. I needed to find people who had experience. I needed to find people to grow with who were new to faith like I was. The bottom line, I needed to find connection.
I also needed accountability and encouragement. I was amazed that after a bad day, I could turn to a sister in Christ rather than a substance. I learned very quickly why the believers in the New Testament were always together and breaking bread.
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” Acts 2:42 ESV
When the Holy Spirit first came to the new Christians, the Bible says they were together and on one accord. While they were not necessarily meeting in what we would define as a church building, they were together; they were the church.
My faith was strengthened every time I heard an encouraging message Sunday morning; it was strengthened everytime I went to a Sunday night Bible study; it was strengthened every Wednesday night when I heard testimonies of God’s provision and protection.
Physically going to church and developing relationships with people in all levels of faith helped me to continue to grow and develop my own.
I often hear people give countless excuses as to why they couldn’t make it to church. My volleyball coach used to say, “Excuses are like belly buttons. Everyone has them and they’re all full of lint.” I’ve been told there is a harsher analogy for this, but this blog is rated PG! But he was right.
We can tell ourselves and others countless reasons as to why it is so difficult to get to the church, but most times the hard truth is this: If you didn’t make it to church, it’s because you didn’t want to go.
I know. It sounds tough. Where is the grace? I’ll lighten up a bit.Thankfully, we are not made righteous by what we do or by what we don’t do, otherwise, we’d be saved by works and not faith. Our righteousness (right standing) is received by the simple act of salvation, our relationship as children of God.
I think about my own children. Neither are old enough for a cell phone so I’ll ask my son if he will text me when he gets one. He said, “Oh, you know it! I’ll blow you up!” He recently got his own ipad and has proven he was not lying. I wake up to about 10 texts on average every morning!
My daughter, on the other hand, is not much of a chatter. When I ask her the same question, my heart sinks a bit. “Maybe,” she’ll say casually without even a smirk to let me know she’s joking. I really hope she is!
But this is how many Christians approach corporate fellowship with God. Maybe they will go to church this week. Maybe they will give. Maybe they will join the Bible study. Despite the relationship with him as his children, many people have put off making a commitment to church attendance and involvement, leaving it up to how they feel when they wake up Sunday morning. Read this passage from Psalm 92:
The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; They shall be fresh and flourishing. -Psalm 92:12-15
So what is the opposite of being fresh and flourishing? Spoiled and withering. What a contrast. Am I saying your life is going to completely crumble and fall apart if you don’t go to church? No. I know non-Christians and Christians alike who don’t regularly attend church and they seem to be doing okay.
But as a believer, God did not call us to just do okay. He called us to a better life. John 10:10 tells us he came to give us a life that is more and better than we ever dreamed of.
While personal discipleship is important for growth in faith, corporate discipleship helps to expound on that growth. When I became a believer, I made a decision that I would be at church every Sunday. Period. My Sunday morning attendance was not based on what external factors may have happened the night before or morning of. I was going to be at church. I was going to meet with my father.
Just as we commit to our jobs, appointments and even sports teams, God’s children must commit and prioritize their decision to follow him. Not out of obligation or requirement, but out of love and honor.
Do you face challenges when it comes to prioritizing weekly church attendance? Let’s chat in the comments!