Why Do People Stay Away From Church?
adapted from R.C. Sproul
There is a crisis of worship in our land. People are staying away from church in droves. One survey indicated that the two chief reasons people drop out of church are that it is boring and irrelevant.
If people find worship boring and irrelevant, it can mean only one thing—they are utterly blind and deaf to the presence of God there.
When we study the act of worship in Scripture and church history, we discover a variety of human responses to the sense of the presence of God. Some people tremble in terror, falling with their faces to the ground; others weep in mourning; some are exuberant in joy; still others are reduced to a pensive silence. Though the responses differ, one reaction we never find is boredom. It is impossible to be bored in the presence of God if you are attuned to the fact that he really is there.
Neither is it possible for a sentient creature to find his or her encounter with God a matter of irrelevance. Nothing—and no one—is more relevant to human existence than the living and true God.
Why “Go to Church”?
Adapted from Fred Zaspel
As in our day, so when the epistle to the Hebrews was written some were sorely tempted to turn away from the Lord. God urgently warns them of the awful consequences of leaving Jesus. If you leave Jesus, then you will have no Saviour, and you will have no salvation. Why? Because there is no other Saviour, and there is no other sacrifice for sin! So again and again in the epistle, God exhorts us:
- “How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?” (Heb 2:3).
- “Let us hold firmly to the faith we profess” (Heb 4:14).
- “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess” (Heb 10:23).
- “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Heb 12:1).
In other words, we need to be very careful to guard our hearts and our lives so as to go on with the Lord, lest we show that our profession was false and we perish.
It is in this context that God exhorts us, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing” (Heb. 10:25). Obviously, the stated formal gatherings of the church are in view here. And the point is that attendance at these meetings is not only our duty but also it is our support, the means by which we are strengthened to continue with the Lord. The public gathering of the people of God is one of God’s appointed means of keeping us. We call it a “means of grace.” Simply put, we meet together because we need it!
“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing.” As you read this you can almost feel God’s grief as he says — “as some are in the habit of doing.” Who are these people who are so strong and so holy that they do not need this divinely appointed means of grace? Are they really so strong, so secure, so advanced that they do not need the common worship and ministry of the Word which God has appointed for them? What arrogance! What fools! They are courting the very worst of all dangers, and they seem oblivious to it.
We “go to church” because God commands it and because God says we need it. And when we think other things are more important — so important that “we do not have the time” to go to church — it is only because our spiritual state is already at such a low point.
Inversely, being active and faithful in the public meetings of the church indicates a heart and mind that understands the need and appreciates the provision. If our hearts are warm to the Lord, our feet will be quick to take us to the place of ministry and worship. If we have any understanding of our weakness and our tendency to fall away, we will run eagerly to the place God has appointed for our strengthening.
As in everything else, even here our Lord himself sets the example. Following his baptism and the mount of temptation, he came back home to Nazareth and on the Sabbath day went to the synagogue of meeting “as was his custom” (Luke 4:16). It was our Lord’s practice to take his place with the people of God in the stated place of worship to which he belonged. This one who above all others was pleasing to God in all things, this one who is supremely the perfect man, without sin, felt that even he could not neglect regular public worship. For all its imperfections, and for all its dullness, and for all there was about it that was beneath him, he saw it as a divine provision for him. Even our Lord needed it, and he was faithful to it.
We “go to church” because it is good for us, because we need it, and because God commands it. Our attendance at our gathered meetings has much to offer us. Whether we know it or not, we cannot do without them. And our attitude toward them speaks volumes about us.