Is it wrong to expect fellow Christians and members of your local church to attend worship services?  Is it a form of legalism to ask people to attend church?  The problem with isolationism and indifference toward the gathering of believers is not a new thing.  This problem has been around from the early days of the church.  The writer to the Hebrews made this statement in Hebrews 10:24-25:

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.

In our present church culture, it’s a common thing to see churches canceling their evening church services.  Church plants often start off from the beginning with only one service on Sunday.  It’s not my point in this article to throw rocks at those specific churches for making a decision to do away with the evening worship service.  The goal in this article is to ask an honest question – why would you want to miss the evening worship gathering if your church is gathered for worship each Sunday evening?  Why should you avoid missing this worship service?  Evening church attendance matters.

The Responsibility to Provoke Love and Good Works

The Greek term translated “stir up” is παροξυσμός – and it carries a positive and negative emphasis.  In the positive, it means to rouse to activity, stirring up, or to provoke.  In the negative, it means a state of irritation expressed in argument or a sharp disagreement.  The usage in this verse is clearly positive, and the idea is to provoke or encourage love and good works.  We are called to be doers of the Word – not merely hearers.  You can hear the Word through a website and various apps on a smartphone, but we are called to be active in the lives of the church – doing the Word (James 1:22).

Leadership Responsibilities

Pastors study all week for what purpose?  Just to talk?  Is it just about getting up and delivering a speech?  No, it’s far more than that.  Pastors are shepherd leaders who are invested in the lives of the people of the church.  They are called by God to care for the flock of God like shepherds in the field care for sheep.  It is the duty of the pastor to preach the Word in order for the church to be edified in the faith, convicted of sin, and equipped for the work of ministry (Eph. 4:11-13; 2 Tim. 4:1-5).

Not one place in the Bible do you see an exhortation for pastors to disciple and equip one part of the church in a more intense way than another part of the church.  How are the pastors of the church able to fulfill their calling in your family if you’re never present on Sunday evenings with the rest of the church?  It is the calling of the church to submit to leaders (Heb. 13:7; 17), and a lack of attendance shows a lack of submission.

Church Family Responsibilities

Gathering together for worship helps us to encourage one another to grow in love for God and for the church as a whole.  Likewise, it helps to provoke one another to good works, or deeds acceptable to God.  From a practical standpoint, this encouragement leads to a life of holiness.  You eventually start to look like and act like those you spend the most time with.  Furthermore, this is a means of serving Christ and the church.  We can use our spiritual gifts as a gathered church, but we can serve one another out of love.  According to Mark Dever, along with Paul Alexander, in their book The Deliberate Church, If a member shows prolonged negligence in gathering with God’s people, how can he say he loves them? And if he doesn’t love them, how can he say he loves God (cf. 1 John 4:20-21)?” [1]

Avoid Isolationism

One of the greatest goals of the enemy is isolate us from the church.  Isolationism can come in many different packages.  It can come through division in the church that results in people not attending based on broken relationships.  Isolationism can come through a desire to spend more time with your own family.  Isolationism can come through increased responsibilities at your place of employment.  Isolationism is possible on the church campus by increased service responsibilities that remove you from the gathering of the church.

Beware of isolationism.  Remember, by the very definition of the word church (ἐκκλησία), God has demonstrated a plan for His people.  The word ἐκκλησία means “a called out assembly.”  The plan of God for His people is the church.  The church gathers for worship and praise to God.  The church gathers for encouragement and discipline of one another.  The church assembles as a together people who are unified in Christ and seek to build one another up in love.  This simply isn’t possible alone.  Isolation is the plan of the devil, the church gathered together is the plan of God.

Encourage One Another

In Hebrews 10:25, we are called to encourage one another.  How is this possible when we aren’t together?  Sure, we live in a connected world of technology where texting is easy and we sense that people are close to us because of technology.  Has technology created a superficial environment for you that has led you to isolate yourself from the church with a false assumption that you can encourage people through Facebook or Twitter?  It’s not possibile.  We need more.  We crave more.

God designed the church to assemble, and part of that assembly is to encourage one another.  This life is harsh and as the coming of Christ draws near, it will become more and more harsh toward Christians.  We must be committed to one another as members of the church.  We must deny selfish ambition and things that will prevent us from encouraging one another in the faith.  In order to be steadfast, immovable, and always abounding in the work of the Lord, we need encouragement.  Perseverance in the faith is hard, and encouragement along the journey is necessary.

One of my highlights each week is the evening worship service.  I enjoy preaching in the evening to the church.  It serves as the last means of encouragement before we all go out into the world on Monday morning.  It’s a time of refreshing fellowship.  Often after church in the evening, we gather with some friends to talk and fellowship over a meal.  In recent days, my fellow pastors in the church have been sharing the pulpit with me and I especially enjoy hearing the Word preached to me.  Evening church is not an option for my family, and this isn’t because I’m a pastor.  It’s because I need it.  My family needs it.  So long as our church gathers on Sunday evenings, we will make it a regular part of our family life.  I would encourage you to do the same thing.

Questions to Consider

  • Does evening church attendance matter less than morning church attendance?
  • Do you consistently miss church based on a work commitment?  If so, who made that choice?  Is it a temporary one or is it a long term commitment you made?  Did you consider your church when you made the commitment?
  • Is your isolation from evening church based on a desire to spend more time with your family?  Do you really have limited family time?  Could you perhaps cut out something of lesser importance than the gathering together of the church?
  • Do you persevere in your isolation based on a mere habit or perhaps – laziness?  Have you considered what isolation will do to your own soul?  Have you considered how your church depends on you and when you’re absent – you become increasingly distant from the church?
  • What would please the devil more – faithfulness to the gathered church or isolation from the church?
  • Do you think that attending one church service on Sunday morning fulfills your calling as a Christian?  Is Sunday the Lord’s day or is it the Lord’s morning?
  • Does your church skipping cause you to miss the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper?  Do you think this is optional?
  • Does your lack of church attendance on Sunday evenings cause you to miss church conference (business sessions)?  Do you consider this an optional event in the life of the church?
  • Does your non-attendance better honor Christ and help you serve your church or does it move in the opposite direction?
  • Does your lack of attendance from the regular gathering of believers on Sunday evening discourage others in the church?
  • Are you able to hear the prayers of the people, or for the people, in the church as an absentee?
  • Will sin be confronted in your life if you remain isolated from the church?
  • Will isolation from the gathered assembly promote holiness in your life?
  • Does your isolation from regular evening church point toward a lack of submission to leadership or the church as a whole?
  • Do you believe that regularly skipping the evening church service will increase friendships in the church?
  • Do you have less responsibility for caring for people in the church than they do for you?

  1.  The Deliberate Church – Building Your Ministry on the Gospel, 2005, 47.