Ecclesiology 101 (Part 3)
This week we conclude our brief discussion of our ecclesiology (theology of the Church) by giving a few pragmatic arguments for why it is important for Christians to attend church on a regular basis. While church attendance is often taken for granted among evangelicals, there is often the awkward situation where someone challenges this principle. Instead of fumbling through a few underdeveloped reasons for why it is important for Christians to be active members of a local church, we think that it would be beneficial for all believers to have a robust theology of Church and church attendance. The following are four distinct arguments or reasons for why Christians should attend church on a regular basis.
The first argument we should understand is theological in nature. As human beings we are made in the image of a Triune God. The doctrine of the Trinity tells us that God is inherently communal. He has existed for eternity loving Himself in the divine dance of three-in-oneness. As creatures bearing His image we also reflect the need for community, therefore our gathering together for worship demonstrates the communal nature of Christianity.
One of the easiest, and most often quoted, reasons Christians are told we should go to church is because the Bible says that we should. In Hebrews 10:24-25 we are told to encourage one another toward love and good deeds, and to not forsake gathering together with fellow believers. While the most basic point of the text is to not be isolated from other Christians, and is therefore not necessarily a direct argument for weekly church attendance, common sense tells you that one of the easiest and best places to gather together with fellow believers would be a local church.
Yet another reason that we should make church attendance a priority is historical in nature. Since the founding of Christianity, believers have made weekly fellowship with other Christians a priority. In fact, one of the best arguments for the truthfulness of the Resurrection is that a group of Jews who had gathered for worship for hundreds of years on Saturday would suddenly start worshiping weekly on Sunday. If Christians have been meeting weekly (primarily on Sunday) for two thousand years, how can we think church attendance is not important?
The final argument is pragmatic in nature. As we discussed last week, the Church has at least five distinct functions, including: worship, fellowship, instruction, service, and equipping for ministry. Common sense tells us that these five tasks can be fulfilled better in a local church setting than anywhere else. If we want to effectively live the Christian life, we need to be consistent church attendees.
Now, you may notice that none of this necessarily requires weekly attendance. But I would suggest that it is difficult to engage anything effectively without doing so on a consistent basis. Also, we have not answered any of the important questions as to what a church should look like. House churches, mega-churches, independent churches, church plants, the list of possibilities goes on and on. What I hope we have shown, however, is that committed followers of Christ must make going to church a top priority. This is one of the first steps in building a robust ecclesiology.