Church Attendance Is Mandatory

Assuming you're an adherent of a Judeo-Christian faith, your participation in a weekly church service isn't optional. A weekly gathering of God's people is a cornerstone of both Judaism and Christianity, and it's rightfully so. The Sabbath is important enough that God placed it among the Ten Commandments, but many people seem to think that it's now optional. Sadly, the Fourth Commandment has become nothing more than the "Fourth Suggestion."

For those of us who embrace the whole Bible, we read that the Sabbath was supposed to be a weekly "holy assembly" (Lev. 23:3). And, in case there's any doubt, the original Hebrew word for "assembly" means literally "a call to a public gathering." As such, it is impossible to keep the Sabbath while choosing to remain alone.

And before moving on, let's address another copout: Staying home with your family doesn't cut it. A "public gathering" has to be just that: public. So stop spouting that nonsense that you're "keeping the Sabbath" when you're home with just your family. You're not keeping the Sabbath — you're just trolling Facebook, listening to Jesus Culture (or Keith Green, depending on your age), and watching Netflix in your underwear.

This lamb pic would have gotten Keith so many Facebook likes.

This lamb pic would have gotten Keith so many Facebook likes.

While going to church won't necessarily make you a Christian, it is absolutely part of what makes you an obedient Christian.

Now, for those of you who fancy yourselves as strictly "New Testament believers," you're not off the hook either. Jesus kept the Fourth Commandment by going to synagogues on the Sabbath (Mark 1:21; Luke 6:6; etc.). Jesus did everything right, and we're supposed to emulate Him. So be like Jesus and keep the Sabbath by going to a public assembly.

What's more, you cannot claim to be part of the "Church" if you're choosing to not assemble. The "Church" (ekklesia, in Greek), by literal definition is an "assembly." It's impossible to be part of an assembly without actually assembling. Restated, it's impossible to be part of the Church without actually assembling.

So what does this have to do with your marriage?

A lot. 

Studies (such as this one) show that couples that attend church together are happier in their marriages. Why? Because in addition to spiritual stimulation and growth, churches provide couples with shared experiences and intentional quality time, the two necessities for relational intimacy. Perhaps even more importantly, congregations also provide a social network of positive peer pressure and accountability that generally reinforces marriages and families.

Another member of God's Assembly, assembling by herself on the day of the holy assembly.

Another member of God's Assembly, assembling by herself on the day of the holy assembly.

Despite the many reasons to actually go to church each week, many professed believers have ridiculous excuses for why they choose to not do just that. Let's take a look at a few dumb ideas:

 

"My church isn't good enough."

While most people wouldn't phrase it with this much honesty, this sentiment is overwhelmingly popular. Frankly, it's a lame excuse. Maybe the music isn't great. Maybe the preacher is annoying. Maybe the pews are terrible. Maybe the theology leaves a bit to be desired. Maybe the pastor's wife is mean. Regardless, nowhere in Scripture are your pitiful objections given as clauses to recuse you from your obligation to assemble each week.

 

"I don't get anything from it."

You're not supposed to get anything from it. You're supposed to give sacrificially. (But thanks for revealing that your true motivation is only what you can take from others.)

 

"There isn't a church around here that believes like I do."

Move. The Bible says that we have to assemble. It doesn't say that we have to live in a specific town or hold a specific job. If your home is keeping you from obeying God's commandments and being part of the Church, leave your home. 

 

"The pastor doesn't share my beliefs."

So what? Christ went to synagogues where the leaders literally wanted to kill him. Go anyway.

 

"My husband doesn't like the church I like."

You can either go with his choice or you can just make him like your choice. It's not that hard: Be super pleasant. Look amazing. Let him pick the after-church meal. Purposefully have extravagant sex afterward. Do whatever it takes. You know how to get what you want. Don't act like you can't win him over. (And vice versa for the husband toward his wife.)

 

"Our weekends are too busy."

Nope. Your priorities are just terrible. You're choosing football and mowing your grass over obeying God and being part of His Church. That's on you. 

 

"The people in the churches are all hypocrites."

They aren't any more hypocritical than you are when you say that you're keeping the Sabbath (a holy assembly) and/or part of His Church (Assembly) but refuse to ever actually assemble. Other people might be hypocrites, but you've proven that you absolutely are one.

 

As believers, we are not permitted to opt-out of church. Granted, some medical conditions may make physical attendance somewhat difficult. Fortunately, many congregations have online communities, live streams of their services, online giving, etc. In just about every other scenario, your attendance and participation are a divine expectation. (And, yes, I have considered the limitations of solitary confinement in a third-world prison. I'm writing this to you — not a hypothetical prisoner who doesn't have internet access and consequently will not be reading this blog.) 

Stop being dumb. Just get your butt to a church. Every. Single. Week. 

— John