Church: Who Needs It?
By Joseph Tkach
Since the Pandemic millions are asking: Why do we meet together each week for worship and instruction? With a lot less bother, couldn’t we stay home, read the Bible and listen to a streaming sermon on the radio or the internet?
In the first century, people gathered very early in the morning to hear the Scriptures – but today we have our own Bibles? Why not stay at home to read the Bible on our own? It would be easier – cheaper, too. Through modern technology, everyone could listen to the best preachers in the world, every week! We could have a menu of options, and listen only to the sermons that apply to us, or only to subjects we like. Wouldn’t it be lovely?
Well, not really. I believe that stay-at-home Christians are missing out on many important aspects of Christianity. It’s always helpful to ask, Why did God create the church?
Hebrews 10:25 says, “Let us not give up meeting together.” “Love one another,” Jesus tells his disciples (John 13:34). When Jesus says “one another,” he is not referring to our duty to love all human beings. Rather, he is referring to a mutual love. This love is an identifying characteristic of Jesus’ disciples (verse 35).
“Do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers,” Paul wrote (Galatians 6:10). To obey this command, it is essential that we know who the family of believers is. We need to see them, and we need to see their needs.
“Serve one another,” Paul wrote to the church in Galatia (Galatians 5:13). “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). But how can we carry each other’s burdens unless we know what those burdens are – and how can we know unless we meet each other regularly?
“If we walk in the light…we have fellowship with one another,” John wrote (1 John 1:7). John is talking about spiritual fellowship, not casual acquaintances with unbelievers. If we walk in the light, we seek out other believers with whom to have fellowship. Similarly, Paul wrote, “Accept one another” (Romans 15:7). “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other” (Ephesians 4:32). Christians have special responsibilities toward one another.
Throughout the New Testament, the early Christians met with one another to worship together, to learn together, to share their lives with one another (for example, Acts 2:41-47). Everywhere Paul went, he raised up churches, rather than leaving scattered believers. They were eager to share their faith and zeal with one another. This is the biblical pattern.
How can we serve others at worship services? By teaching children, helping clean the building, singing hymns and special music, arranging chairs, greeting people, picking up afterwards. We talk with others, and find out needs to pray about and things to do to help others during the week.
Paul wrote, “Encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 4:18). “Spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24). The apostle John specifically tells us that some things can only be experienced face to face (2 John 12). There are thus multiple reasons given to attend regular assemblies. Show up while we are physically able to do so before age and illness take their toll.
Jesus regularly attended synagogue and regularly heard readings of Scripture that didn’t add anything to his understanding, but he went anyway, to worship His father in the company of those who feared God. Now that’s an example that’s hard to beat.