Summary: A sermon that describes the importance of church attendance and the need that it meets for community in our lives.
"The First Social Network"
Introduction: Recently I read some research about trends in church attendance in America today and one point that was made in the article seemed very contradictory. This one point has huge implications for the church going forward and unless the trend is reversed it does not bode well for the future. Here's what the article stated: "Overall church attendance has remained fairly constant in recent years but the difference is in frequency of attendance." Basically it says that people are going, they're just not going as often. Part of this can be explained by the fact that many churches have cancelled Wednesday and Sunday evening services but it doesn't explain all of it. Many professing Christians are just not attending as often as they used to. I suspect that one of the reasons for this change is the lowered expectations for membership in general and discipleship in particular. In many churches today there is no call to duty, responsibility or accountability.
ILL - Three pastors got together for coffee one day and found all their churches had bat-infestation problems. "I got so mad," said one, "I took a shotgun and fired at them. I missed and it made holes in the ceiling. The trustees are still upset with me."
Another pastor said, "Well, I tried trapping them alive. Then I drove 50 miles before releasing them, but they beat me back to the church."
The third pastor said, "I haven't had any more problems since I took action." "What did you do?" the others asked, amazed. "I simply baptized and received into the church and I haven't seen them since!"
Now as I begin this message I am fairly confident that some of you are going to be able to say a hearty Amen to what I share because you very seldom if ever miss an opportunity to be in God's house. Others of you who only miss occasionally will probably rationalize that you only miss when company comes in or you have tickets to a sporting event or something like that. You convince yourself that what you are doing is ok and that you are there regularly. Now let me tell you something about what it means to be regular.
ILL - "A friend was in front of me coming out of church one day, and the preacher was standing at the door as he always is ready to shake hands.
The Pastor grabbed my friend by the hand and pulled him aside and said to him, "You need to join the Army of the Lord!"
My friend replied, "I'm already in the Army of the Lord, Pastor." The Pastor questioned, "How come I don't see you except at Christmas and Easter?"
He whispered back, "I'm in the secret service."
Some folks show up every year at Easter and Christmas, they never miss those two Sundays but even though you might say they are regular no one would ever venture to say they are faithful. There is another group here today who are going to feel very uncomfortable about this message. You will be restless and you might even be a little bit resentful that your minister would call attention to this issue but let me tell you if I didn't love you all, each and every one of you I wouldn't say anything at all.
The first thing in our text is:
I. THE PRINCIPLE OF CHURCH ATTENDANCE
a. The admonition to assemble
There is one point that needs to be cleared up first as we begin this study and that is that the writer of Hebrews is not making a suggestion about the practice of assembling together, he is saying that it is not an option for believers. We need to ask the question, "What part of "...not forsaking..." don't we understand?"
b. The act of assembly
Many professing Christians are under the mistaken notion that when they get up to come to church that they are going to meet with God, that somehow God is waiting on them to arrive like a parking lot attendant, door greeter or usher but B. B. Warfield said it better than I ever could:
"No man can fail to meet with God in the sanctuary if he takes God there with him."
Friend, if you are a believer in Christ then you have the Spirit of Christ inside of you everywhere that you go, including the church house! Many are under the mistaken idea that we have to come to church to worship God but the truth is we should come to church worshipping God (private, personal worship) and continue our worship corporately as a community of faith!
"Would it surprise you to know that throughout history God has been intent on gathering many worshipers? He created not just one person but many; he has redeemed not just one person but many, so that at the end of the age there will be a vast throng to worship him (Exodus 5:1; 7:16; 8:1; 9:13; Revelation 5:9-14). We reach our fullest expression of worship corporately, not individually. When we gather as a church, we enjoy a foretaste of redemption's consummation (Hebrews 12:18-24)." Emmanuel Bible Church Website