By Thom Rainer
In a culture that minimizes commitment and maximizes self-indulgence, I have learned the precious gift of church attendance or, more specifically, the church gathered. I do not see church attendance as a burden or legalistic commitment. I view it as joy — a place where I can give and serve, a place where I can focus more on others rather than myself.
I could name many, but here are ten reasons I attend church.
- I attend church to serve others. There is so much greater joy in serving than seeking to be served. I have many opportunities to serve when the church is gathered. Those opportunities are my gifts from God.
- I attend church to encourage others. We live in a world of incredible digital communication. But there is still something irreplaceable about gathering together. When I encounter someone in person at church, I have an opportunity to encourage him or her in person as well.
- I attend church to encourage my pastor. I doubt many of us know how much our pastors serve us and love us seven days a week. The least I can do for my pastor is to be there in person when we gather as a church. I know it encourages my pastor, and I want our pastors to have that gift of encouragement every week.
- I attend church to state my priorities. If I am able to go to work, to go to school, to go on vacation, or to watch or be involved in a sport, I can attend church. I desire to have a “no excuse” clause in my life for attending church.
- I attend church to participate in worship. There is something special and Spirit-filled about worshipping together with other Christians. It is both an opportunity and gift I do not take lightly.
- I attend church even if it doesn’t meet all my needs. If I say, “I am not getting fed spiritually,” it likely means I am not hungry spiritually. If my church does some things a bit differently than my preferences, I realize I am there, not as a consumer, but as a giver and one who has been called to put others’ needs before my own. No church is perfect. No worship style is perfect. No pastor is perfect. And neither am I.
- I attend church with frequency, not on occasion. It is my prayer to be in my church every Sunday. When I am out of town, I can find another church to attend. I pray I will never say, “I need a break from church.” I certainly don’t want God to take a break from me.
- I attend church to set an example for my family. Couples have healthier marriages when they attend church. Children grow up with countless benefits because their parents took them to church. I need to show the importance and priority of church attendance to those I love.
- I attend church because the Bible tells me to do so. Two-thirds of the New Testament is about churches, specifically gathered churches. The words of the writer of Heb. in 10:24-25 are powerful: “And let us watch out for one another to provoke love and good works, not neglecting to gather together as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and more as you see the day approaching.”
- I attend church because I love my church. I love my church. I love my pastor. I love the members of my church. I love the community my church serves. If I love someone, I will be there for them. I truly love my church.
It is becoming increasingly common to see church attendance as just another activity, an option among many, a place to get consumer preferences met, or an occasional gathering to hide in anonymity.
It has become increasingly popular for some to argue that church attendance is not a high priority because the building is not a church, the people are. But those people are supposed to gather. Indeed, they are commanded to gather.
I love to attend church. I attend church for these reasons and many more.
I thank God for my church.
This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on Mar. 18. Thom S. Rainer is the founder and CEO of Church Answers, an online community and resource for church leaders. Prior to founding Church Answers, Rainer served as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and ten grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.