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I grew up attending church once a week. It was just a normal, expected part of our lives. But then, in the 1960s and early 70s, much of the country could say the same thing. Even though they weren’t all true believers as defined by Biblical standards, most people in the United States would have claimed to be Christian, and most would have attended a weekly service regularly.
Fast forward to the 21st century: the Barna report on the state of the church in 2016 concluded that only 31% of the US population were practicing Christians, compared to 73% who self-identify as Christians. While that statistic alone is depressing – because there are so many people who think they’re bound for heaven, but probably aren’t – the 31% is what I want to discuss. You see, Barna defines a practicing Christian as one who (1) identifies as a Christian, (2) says their faith is very important in their life, and (3) attends a church service at least once a month.
Once a month – 25% of available Sundays – the practicing Christian is in church. I wonder if worshiping the Father only 1 time out of 4 opportunities would be enough for Jesus? Now I’m getting too personal, right?!
Seriously, though, what would Jesus think of a believer attending church only once a month? The problem may, of course, be that the practicing Christian isn’t really a believer. Worshiping together was important to Jesus and to the early church:
- Jesus went to the synagogue regularly (Luke 4:16)
- Jesus encouraged believers to meet together (Matthew 18:20)
- Jesus commanded believers to make disciples (Matthew 28:19-10)
- The early church met together regularly (Acts 2:46-47)
- Paul went to the synagogue regularly (Acts 17:2)
Need more reasons to join with other believers more than once a month – like aim for 4 out of 4 weeks!? How about these 7 reasons:
- We are commanded to gather together and encourage each other (Hebrews 10:25)
- We are encouraged to gather together to teach, admonish, and praise (Colossians 3:16)
- We should hear the clear teaching of the Word, which can change our lives (Romans 10:17)
- Jesus promised to build His church and we need to be part of the building (Matthew 16:18)
- The church is the primary means the Lord uses to spread His message of grace, forgiveness, and salvation (Acts 9:31)
- We are admonished to seek the kingdom of God first (Matthew 6:33)
- We cannot become mature believers apart from the church (Ephesians 4:11-16)
Where will you worship this week?