I’ve seen a trend in the church over the past few years. Not just my local church, but the church at large. It’s no secret, that less people are going to church, youth groups, and young adult gatherings these days. What’s the cause? Is it the massive amounts of preaching and teaching available on Christian TV and social media? Are more and more people falling away from their faith and becoming lax in their walk with God? Do people not want to waste a Sunday? Whatever the case, the statistics don’t lie. Around 40% of Americans say that they belong to a church, but actually only about 20% attend weekly. In other words, 80% of Americans feel that there are other things more fulfilling than going to church on the weekend. Additionally, to reinforce the point, there are between 5,000 and 9,000 churches that close each year.
Every weekend, Christians across the globe have to make a small decision. A decision that perhaps a lot of thought doesn’t go into. “Am I going to go to church?” (Or “Am I bringing my family to church?”) I’m not talking about missing church for vacation, a family crisis, or a blemish on your perfect church attendance award, but rather the mindset that, well, church really isn’t that important.
Consider these three quick points on church
1. The Bible tells us that Church is important
Hebrews 10:25 NCV reads, “You should not stay away from the church meetings, as some are doing, but you should meet together and encourage each other. Do this even more as you see the day coming.” Not going to church is nothing new. The author of Hebrews (possibly Paul) noticed that some Christians didn’t belong to a church or make church attendance a priority, but he warns against it. He urges followers to “meet together and encourage each other”. He adds that as time goes on, and as we get closer to Christ’s return, we should actually make going to church and spiritual gatherings more often than ever, contrary to what we’re seeing happen in America today. I believe this is especially true for young adults. In the 17-25 age range, you face some of the most important decisions of your life, decisions that impact your future: Where to go to school, what job to take, who to marry, just to name a few. By going to church, hearing a Word in season (maybe tailor made for you), fellowshipping and encouraging other Christians that share your faith, it keeps life’s priorities straight. It’s so easy to get consumed in the craziness of life, but carving out that time with God and other believers at church is essential to Spiritual growth, a way to hear what God is saying to you, and even practically, a way to get great spiritual advice from other believers on some of these important decisions in life.
2. Jesus went to church
Luke 4:16 NIV says “He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom, and stood up to read.” We think of Jesus as the radical teacher that traveled from town to town doing miracles, but clearly we see here that He was also concerned about local “church” gatherings. It says He went to his own town, where he grew up, and went to the synagogue as was his custom. Other translations may read, “as He usually did”. Another interesting thing I see here is that he “stood up to read.” He read passages from the scriptures amongst many other things I’m sure. Not only did Jesus attend church, but he got involved! As Christians (Christ followers), Shouldn’t we strive to model the same example that He did?
3. It boosts our faith
Romans 10:17 NIV says, “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” Our faith is the whole premise of our Christianity. without faith in God, what do we have? And here we see that Faith is boosted by hearing, hearing the message and the good news. Now I know what you may be thinking – “You can hear a great message without going to church.” True, you can. But by skipping out on church and opting for a TV or radio message, you lose all the great benefits of the church! The friendships you develop, the worship or hymns, and the opportunity to get involved like Jesus did! It’s kind of like eating a salad with just the lettuce. There’s a lot of add-on’s that can enhance a great salad experience, rather than just eating dry kale and spinach leaves. To put it another way, as a big baseball fan, I asked myself, would I rather watch the Yankee game on TV, or go the stadium and get the whole experience live? That’s a no brainer! How about your favorite band? Sure it’s fun to listen to their songs on your radio or MP3 device, but can it compare to going to the concert and seeing them live? No way! The live experiences get you more excited and bring you a little closer to the things you love in life. And the church experience should do the same, it gets Christians more excited about their faith, and more importantly it boosts our faith, which can be the key to facing some of life’s most important decisions and checkpoints.