Why does this matter so much? It is a concrete way of showing your commitment to the people in your spiritual family, and it shows that honouring God comes first among your many other priorities. It gives you consistency of Biblical input and the best opportunity to learn from God’s word. Regular church attendance leads to stronger relationships with those in the church. And if you have children, attending the same church each week sends a message that God and His people are of first priority to your family.
Going to a church service every week is something that most Christians have historically done at a bare minimum. (There have been times when two services on Sunday, or even daily services at dawn, were the norm!) Yet the pattern for many Christians in our current age is to go to church much less regularly than that. It is common for even long-term Christians to go to church fortnightly, monthly, or whenever there isn’t a better offer going.
Our recent experience with COVID has exacerbated this trend. I have heard from many other churches that a significant proportion of their members are continuing to watch the weekly church service on livestream rather than coming in person. In my church (which chose not to continue offering live steaming), there has been a noticeable increase in people who come regularly but not every week. In-person church attendance has, for many Christians, become something that fits around the edges of other things that we want to do.
Now, there are many places in the Bible where regular meeting together as believers is expressly encouraged. It was the pattern of the early church to meet together, sometimes every day (Acts 2:46) and sometimes every week (Acts 20:7). Christian gathering for worship was regulated as it was assumed to be a significant part of the life of the community (1 Corinthians 14). And, of course, we have that famous warning in Hebrews 10:
24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Heb. 10:24-25 ESV)
So why are so many Christians not putting a high value on weekly worship with their brothers and sisters in Christ? I have heard people say that they don’t want to be legalistic. We are saved by grace, not by religion, and surely we are still real Christians if we don’t go to church every week. And sure, I see the logic of that argument.