by Samuel Brooks
The purpose of this post isn’t to debate against the church being more than just the four walls of a building (yes, the Bible makes it clear that our bodies are the temple for the Holy Spirit once we’ve been filled) nor am I trying to make a statement that one denomination is better than the others but, rather, to show the importance of attending a church and/or (at the very least) a home fellowship group (HFG)/Bible study on a regular basis while also providing helpful tips in order to find the right church. If you’re a minister, I hope that you’ll use this post to make improvements in the areas where your church isn’t following Scripture.
To start with, Bible Study Tools states “church attendance is of high importance because it’s a place where we, as believers, can come together to worship, be encouraged and learn from God’s words for our spiritual growth.” However, due to a variety of reasons—choosing to watch services on television, reading books by mainstream ministers, someone (i.e. pastor, fellow congregant, etc) saying or doing something that offended an individual, taking parts of Scripture out of context, placing your work and schedule (or anything else) above your relationship with God, the policies or whatever the case might be—has caused many to leave the church. Along with these examples, I’ve even experienced those that have been baptized and filled with the Holy Ghost leave the church because they felt that they got what they wanted and didn’t feel the need to continue. Some points I’d like to make before I present passages of Scripture that support the need to attend church regularly: 1) Hebrews 13:17 NLT says “Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.” If you’re substituting church attendance (at the very least a HFG or Bible study) by staying home and following televangelists, are you really following what’s stated in Scripture? How can a televangelist give an account for you when there’s no relationship? and 2) If you leave church because someone said or did something that offended you, then clearly your faith was not in God but in people.
Some passages of Scripture that support the importance of attending church include, but aren’t limited to:
- “Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other” (Romans 12:4-5 NLT).
- “The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit. Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything? But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.” In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it. Here are some of the parts God has appointed for the church: first are apostles, second are prophets, third are teachers, then those who do miracles, those who have the gift of healing, those who can help others, those who have the gift of leadership, those who speak in unknown languages. Are we all apostles? Are we all prophets? Are we all teachers? Do we all have the power to do miracles? Do we all have the gift of healing? Do we all have the ability to speak in unknown languages? Do we all have the ability to interpret unknown languages? Of course not! So you should earnestly desire the most helpful gifts. But now let me show you a way of life that is best of all” (1 Corinthians 12:12-31 NLT).
- “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And 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” (Hebrews 10:24-25 NLT).
- “For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them” (Matthew 18:20 NLT).
- “Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts” (Colossians 3:16 NLT).
- “Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-13 NLT).
- Some other passages regarding the church leaders include Hebrews 13:17, James 3:1, Jeremiah 3:15, 1 Peter 5:1-4, Titus 1:5-9, and 1 Timothy 3:1-13.
Benefits of Attending Church Regularly
According to Aleteia, 5 health benefits include:
- Better sleep
- Less risk of depression and suicide
- More stable, happy, and sexually satisfying marriages
- Longer life
- Lower blood pressure
With over 40,000 different Christian denominations, how do I know which church is right for me?
I’ll start off by stating that the Bible says “church”, not “churches” when describing the body of Christ. It’s never plural! The key reason as to why there are so many different churches within Christianity is because a church will cherry pick the passages of Scripture that they support while ignoring the others and then add their own traditions (usually from Catholicism)—or even add their own “gospel” and beliefs that are contrary to Scripture (ex: Prosperity Gospel, light doctrine, Book of Mormon, New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, and Apocrypha).
Below are some tips with some Scripture references to assist you in choosing the right church!
- Is the church following the doctrines and teachings that was laid out by Christ, the apostles and first century church? Does the church participate in the Lord’s Supper (also known as communion) very frequent or on rare occasions (I’d say twice a year is sufficient enough—Passover and Christmas for example)? Does the church follow all of Scripture or do they cheery pick and then add their own traditions? (Acts 2:42, Romans 10:17, Matthew 16:18, James 1:22, Matthew 15:3-9 and 23:1-36, 1 Corinthians 11:17-34, Galatians 1:6-9, and 1 Corinthians 11:17-34)
- Are the messages from the church all grace, truth or a balance of the two? (2 Timothy 4:2-4 and John 1:17)
- Does the church baptize using three names/titles or in the name of Jesus? Do they immerse or sprinkle water? Do they believe baptism is no longer needed or still practice it? (Matthew 28:19-20, Mark 16:17, Luke 24:47, John 3:1-8, Acts 2:21, 2:38, 4:12, 8:16, 10:43, 10:48, 19:3-5 and 22:16, Colossians 2:8-9, Ephesians 4:4-6, 1 Corinthians 1:13, Deuteronomy 6:4, and Galatians 3:20)
- Does the church ban speaking in tongues (along with the other gifts of the Spirit) because they believe it’s outdated or allow it? (Joel 2:27-29, 1 Corinthians 12 and 14, Acts 1:4-5, 2:1-21, 2:38 and 8:15-17, Romans 8:26-27 and 12:6-8)
- Does the church encourage and participate in outreach? (1 Corinthians 9:20-23, Matthew 9:13, and Mark 16:15)
- Does the church practice both inward and outward holiness? (Ephesians 4:21-24, Colossians 2:6-7, 2 Timothy 2:19, and Hebrews 10:14 and 12:14)
- Does the church provide classes on apologetics and stress its importance? (1 Peter 3:15 and 1 Thessalonians 5:21)
- Does the church teach that salvation comes from works or through grace by having faith in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ? (John 3:16, Ephesians 2:8-9, James 2:17, 2 Corinthians 5:15, Galatians 1:4, and Romans 3:21-31)
A final thought: I don’t attend church 3-4 times a week (more if we’re having a revival or event) out of trying to fulfill some mere requirement or that I feel forced to but because I want to be there as it helps me stay accountable and keeps me focused as I deal with junk on a daily basis.