In light of the fact that church attendance in America appears to be in a state of decline, it would be helpful to understand from a biblical point of view why we go to church. The writer of Hebrews presented four timeless reasons in verses 24-25.
1. We go to church to consider one another
That is a radical concept in our self-centered society. The word “consider” suggests attentive, continuous care and concern. This command reminds us that the church is not just another organization made up of anonymous participants. The church is a family of believers. When one hurts, we all hurt. When one rejoices, we all rejoice. The next time you are tempted to skip church, remember the biblical responsibility you have to your church family. Rather than thinking of ourselves, we are to consider one another.
2. We go to church to stir up one another
We typically think of the phrase “stir up” in a negative sense. But here in verse 24 the Hebrew writer used it in a positive sense. We don’t come to church to stir up trouble. We come to stir up love and good works. We encourage one another in godliness. We cheer each other on in the race. We motivate one another to stay true to Jesus. We come to church because we all have a ministry to perform. It’s the ministry of stirring up one another!
3. We go to church to assemble with one another
Apparently, some believers in the First Century were skipping church. They probably reasoned, “I can read the Bible at home. I can worship with my family. I can enjoy God’s presence outdoors.” While those things are true, they do not replace our need for active participation in a local church. There is a unique dynamic that occurs when God’s people come together for worship. To isolate yourself from the Body of Christ is not only unwise, it’s spiritually dangerous. Thus the warning of the Hebrew writer, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some…”
4. We go to church to exhort one another
The Hebrew writer chose an interesting word that is translated “exhort.” It’s the Greek word parakaleo which is the verb form of the noun parakletos. The verb speaks of coming along side someone to encourage them. The noun form is the word attributed to the Holy Spirit. When we exhort and encourage one another at church, we are actually being used by the Holy Spirit. This reminds us that going to church isn’t just about what we can receive, but what we can give.
Maybe you know someone who has been missing from church. Maybe your own attendance is in a state of decline. I encourage you today to stay connected to the Body of Christ. Resist the temptation to pull away. The only thing that is going to make it out of this world is the Church of Jesus Christ. So renew your commitment to be faithful, “and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Pastor Todd Weston