Why go to Church? The reasons Christians give for going to church seems to be as varied as the people who answer the question.
There are good answers and good reasons, but there are also some honest ones which fall short of the mark:
- A good place to meet people
- A good place to network.
- A great place to do business.
- Because I am a Christian.
- Everyone does.
- I like the music.
- I like the sermons.
- I like the socialising.
- It seems the right thing to do.
- It’s the most convenient to where I live.
- I want to get into politics and this is a first step.
- My family has always gone to this church.
- My parents went there.
- See friends.
- To accompany my spouse/family.
- To get away from my spouse/family.
Well, I’m sure you get the idea and I’m sure you have heard many yourself; and just to avoid any personal bias here – the list is alphabetical.
The next question really is this: What does the Bible say about going to Church?
Well, the first thing we need to understand is that the concept of our present Church would not have been understood by the early Christians, because it was not the way they “did Church.”
The early Church met in the houses of the believers and had a tight and close community. The Jewish members of the early church also spoke in the Synagogues or Temples, as Acts 5:24 says “And every day in the temple, and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching the gospel: Jesus Christ.”
What does the Bible say, then, about the even earlier priorities?
The First priority of the early Bible church was Learning. This is described in Luke 5:15 “But the word about Him spread even more. And great crowds were coming to hear, and to be healed from their infirmities by Him.” and Luke 6:16 “… also those tormented by unclean spirits; and they were healed.”
Clearly, the first priority was to learn, and learn directly from Jesus. After they had learned, as in Acts 5:24, they could then teach others.
The Second priority was that of Worship. The Old Testament Psalm 100 gives a particularly wonderful testament to the depth and height of worship of the Lord which is possible, saying:
“A Psalm of praise. Make a joyful noise to Jehovah, all you lands.
Worship Jehovah with gladness; come before His presence with singing.
Know that Jehovah, He is God. He has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise; be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
For Jehovah is good; His mercy is everlasting; and His truth endures to all generations.”
In Second Corinthians 8:18 we find Paul saying of an un-named associate, ” … and we have sent with him the brothers whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches ..” Hebrews 2:12 also confirms the importance of praise as it says “in the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You.”
Given the severs persecution of followers of The Way, of the early Christian Church, we can easily recognising that making a “joyful noise to the Lord” was a very risky, no – a life threatening thing to do; for certainly all the neighbours would hear. Yet that is what they did and as Acts 2:1 tells us, they did it all on one accord. In other words, with total agreement and enthusiasm.
The Third priority was that of Equipping themselves for service of others. As Ephesians 4:11-13 says:
“And truly He gave some to be apostles, and some to be prophets, and some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ. And this until we all come into the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a full-grown man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ …”
When God made some of us to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors or teachers, it was not for their sakes, but for:
- Building-up, completing, other Christians for their ultimate purpose,
- Preparing others for work in the ministry and,
- Educating other Christian.
To complete the Great Commission of Jesus, all of the Church needed and needs to be involved, both directly and indirectly, serving and being served.
The Fourth priority of the early Bible church was Strengthening. We find this in First Corinthians 14:26 where Paul asks “Then how is it, brothers? When you come together, each one of you has a psalm [hymn], has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be for building up.” Building up, is strengthening.
Paul did not use the singular in this message, that one person is responsible for the building up, for the strengthening of the Church; but rather that all are.
Everyone is responsible for the strengthening of the Church and the strengthening of all Christians.
Indeed, if we look at First Timothy 3:16-17 we get the same message about the Bible, the very Word of God, of which Paul as says, “All Scripture is God-breathed, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfected, thoroughly furnished to every good work.”
In other words, the Word has been given that we may be “perfected,” just as Ephesians 4:11-13 says, for every good work. That is, for service.
The early Church was and our Church should be, a place not just to meet with God, but to learn about God and to hear from God, through the Holy Spirit, as we are trained and equipped.
Is this why you go to Church?