There was a time in America when the church was the focal point of a community’s culture and calendar. Families would make it a priority to attend church services and functions almost every time the church’s “doors were open.”
Sundays featured several hours of church programming. The day started with age-segregated Sunday school classes, followed by the church’s morning worship service. The Sunday evening schedule often included meetings for teenagers or a “training union” that transitioned into the church’s evening service. Many families also used Sunday nights as an occasion to “fellowship” with other church families. Most churches also hosted mid-week services, like prayer meetings in the church auditorium, and a structured children’s program, or youth group gatherings on another night of the week.
Factors for the decline in church attendance are varied but include the availability of religious content online, the proliferation of other activities for family members on weekends (like the propensity and popularity of youth sports), and the general increase of a more secular mindset for many Americans.
7 Reasons Why It Is Important to Go to Church
Perhaps it is time for God’s people to recommit themselves to active and regular participation in a local church. Here are seven reasons why it is important for believers to make church a priority in their personal and family schedules.
1. The church is God’s idea and the church is His plan for this age. The most important reason for God’s people to attend church is that the church is God’s idea, “I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). Plus, the church is how God is accomplishing His work on earth today.
The Bible is clear, from the narrative in Acts through the Epistles of Paul, Peter, James, and John, that God’s work in the world today is being completed through His church. One only has to review the words God uses to describe His church to get a glimpse of how important it is to Him: the bride of Christ, the household of God, the body of Christ, and God’s building. The church as God’s plan is something that must be a top priority in the lives of all believers.
2. God’s Word instructs us to be involved in the church. It’s clear from passages like Hebrews 10:25, “…not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some…”, that God wants His people to be actively involved in the church. From the account in Acts of the first church in Jerusalem to the seven churches listed in Revelation, it’s obvious that the Bible teaches the importance of local church involvement.
In fact, over 30 specific local churches are mentioned in the Bible and six regions of churches are also listed (Acts 19:19).
3. The church is where God’s people are taught God’s Word so they can grow spiritually. The focal point of local church ministry is to clearly teach and preach the Word of God. The Pastoral Epistles (1 and 2 Timothy and Titus) are teeming with instruction for church leaders on making the Scriptures a priority in the church.
For example, 1 Timothy 4:6 provides clear direction on the importance of an effective teaching ministry, and 1 Timothy 4:2 commands pastors and elders to, “Preach the Word.” It’s true that followers of Christ can and should study the Word on their own; however, learning under the sound preaching and teaching ministry of pastors and other church leaders is imperative for anyone’s spiritual growth (1 Peter 2:2 and Ephesians 4:14).
4. The church is God’s avenue for believers to utilize their spiritual gifts. Another important reason for attending church regularly is that church is the place where believers can and should practice their God-given spiritual gifts. Romans 12:3-8 and 1 Corinthians 12 are emphatic about the fact that every believer is the recipient of one or more spiritual gifts that are God-given enablements to effectively serve Him in the church.
God never intended the church to be for spectators who just show up for a performance on a Sunday morning. He designed His church to be a place for believers to participate in church functions by utilizing their spiritual gifts either in a public setting or privately with other believers.
5. God’s people connect with other believers in the church. The community provided by a local church is essential for believers because the Christian life was never intended to be a solo act. That’s why there are close to 60 “one another’s” mentioned in the New Testament.
Believers are to love one another (Romans 13:8), comfort one another (1 Thessalonians 4:18), forgive one another (Ephesians 4:32), pray for one another (James 5:16), and a host of other mutual admonitions. It’s at church where believers can find older, Godly mentors (Titus 2:1-8), and where Christ-followers can truly have fellowship with one another (1 I John 1:7).
6. The church is God’s outlet for outreach and evangelism. The church is also the place for effective evangelism, outreach, and global missions to take place as well. The book of Acts chronicles the story of the growth of the early church and features accounts of personal evangelism, group outreach, and international missionary endeavors.
Outreach in the New Testament was always accomplished through the vehicle of the church. It’s obvious from a thorough study of the scriptures that the local church is to equip and train God’s people to reach others for Christ and then to send them out to accomplish that mission.
7. God designed His church to fulfill the Great Commission to make disciples. The last thing Christ said to His disciples is what has commonly been called “the Great Commission” where He left the lasting imperative to “make disciples” (Matthew 28:19-20) for His people to follow.
This well-known instruction was what the Lord left His church here on earth to do. It was never Christ’s plan for this mandate to be attempted alone. True discipleship can only happen within the structure, teaching, and accountability of a local church.
Why Does This Matter?
Current culture makes it easy for both individuals and family members to get involved in other activities instead of faithfully attending and serving the Lord in a local church. So many activities today tend to conflict with church schedules, and the internet provides an abundance of podcasts, recorded sermons, and the live-streaming of a host of church services that it has become easy for people to do other things instead of attending church.
God’s Word teaches the importance of active participation in a local church. Believers must make church attendance a priority in their personal and family schedules and put going to church ahead of other seemingly beneficial activities.
Mel Walker is the president of Vision For Youth, Inc., an international network of youth ministry, and he is also the youth pastor at Wyoming Valley Church in Wilkes-Barre, PA. Mel has been actively involved in various aspects of youth ministry for over 40 years. He is also an author, speaker, and a consultant with churches. More information about his speaking and writing ministry can be found at www.GoingOnForGod.com. Mel has written 13 books on various aspects of youth ministry, including Inter-Generational Youth Ministry: Why a Balanced View of Connecting the Generations is Essential for the Church. Mel & Peggy Walker are the parents of 3 adult children—all of whom are in vocational ministry. You can follow him on Twitter: @vfyouth.