“I Can’t, Won’t, or Don’t Have To”: Lies That Lure Us Away From Church

Church attendance is a big issue in today’s society. It’s not uncommon to hear the statement, “No, I don’t go to church regularly, but God knows my heart.” Yet Hebrews 10:25 (NLT) tells us “…let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” Chances are you’ve heard someone professing, “I’ll get right with God once I’ve had my fun. I’ll eventually get around to it, I’ve got time.” 2 Corinthians 6:2 (NIV) addresses that attitude: “..I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” Church attendance is distinctly biblical, so what’s holding us back?

Often times, extra curricular activities can commandeer our time and captivate our attention, gradually taking precedence over our church attendance. Practicing that amazing golf swing, watching that soon-to-be historical football game, and catching up on some much needed sleep may all seem like justifiable excuses to miss “just one Sunday.” Yet “just one Sunday” inevitably turns into another and another, and before you realize it, your busy schedule has edged out your weekly observation of the Sabbath. It’s easy for anyone to fall into this trap, and even the strongest of believers are susceptible to the temptation of skipping church. If what we are filling our time with has us missing church every week, it might be time to find a new hobby or reexamine our priorities.

Sometimes our own feelings of unworthiness prevent us from attending church. Shame for sin effortlessly distorts the self-image of a son or daughter of Christ. Satan whispers to us that we aren’t “good enough” to sit in church service. Maybe you’ve committed a sin that is so appalling, you feel undeserving of the Lord’s grace. Struggling with the despair of feeling unworthy often leads to isolation, and consequently, church attendance is neglected. Don’t be fooled; isolation is a trick of the Enemy! By isolating yourself, you’re opening yourself up for temptation as it says in James 1:14 (NKJV): “…each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.” The Lord says not to condemn ourselves in this way. There is nothing you can do to make God love you any less. Additionally, there is nothing you can do to earn God’s love, forgiveness, or salvation. The most righteous man still isn’t worthy of God’s grace. Ephesians 2:8 (NKJV) explains, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.”

For the nonconformist championing the idea that “church isn’t constrained to a building, so church attendance isn’t necessary,” the isolationist who consequently spends his Sundays holed up in his house listening to sermons online, a glance at Scripture is just the remedy he needs. While he is correct in claiming church isn’t a building, he is gravely overlooking the essential context of church. Church is not about the four walls of a meeting place; it is about the gathering of the body of believers. It is not possible to do what God commands if we do not seek to commune with other believers. Meeting in a building, or even in a field, with other believers allows us to have ready access to others who share the same eternal goal. Hebrews 10:24 (NIV) exhorts: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” How can we do these things if we do not surround ourselves with other Christians? It is imperative to note that this command does not pertain to how to treat people in general, but how to treat fellow believers in Christ. Acts 20:7 (NKJV) perfectly depicts the fellowship of the church: “Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.” Here, the early church is clearly portrayed as fellowshipping weekly together. Attending church every Sunday enables us to live in obedience to God and surround ourselves with the encouraging influences of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

God has made it clear that we are to work together in building His kingdom. Ephesians 4:16 (NIV) states, “From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” If you were meant to have a personal relationship with God restricting you to the confinement of your own home, why would He command us to do anything as a group? God’s sole mission in this life is to bring others to Christ to share in His perfect kingdom. We are not meant to be are lone rangers in the spiritual battle on the path to salvation. So utilize the support, encouragement, mentorship, and prayer that can be acquired by your fellowship with other believers gathered together at church.

Matthew 18:20 (NIV) says, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” When we gather with other believers, the Lord is guaranteed to be among us! What a blessing! It is utterly biblical that believers attend church and observe the Sabbath together. What are some distractions that have pulled you away from church? Does feeling unworthy convince you to avoid church? Anytime we feel as if we have a viable excuse to miss out on a Sunday service, we need look no further than His Word to be reminded of the integral role the weekly gathering of fellow believers has in our relationship with the Lord.