Why I Attend every Service I Can

Tim Henderson Bible Articles - General
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It is a well known fact that many members of the church who attend the Sunday morning worship service, will not be seen again until the next Sunday morning worship service. Go to any local congregation (let's give an arbitrary number of members at 70) and the numbers will look something like this. Sunday morning Bible study - 45, Sunday morning Worship - 65, Sunday evening worship - 55, Wednesday evening Bible Study - 35. Now with some congregations their numbers will look a little better, or more likely a little worse, unfortunately. Why is this so? What is the difference between the Sunday morning worship service and every other meeting of the local congregation. Well, the first answer given by many is the simple fact that we are commanded to come together on the first day of the week to partake of the Lord's Supper and Give as we have prospered (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:1,2). This is Gospel truth and we must hold to it with every fiber of our being, but, what about the other services. Many give an answer much like is used for various classes in school and college, they are electives, therefore our attendance and labor at them is not necessary, they are just for extra credit. Is that the Gospel truth?? Is there going to be a more special place in heaven for those who attended every worship service they could? Can you find this taught anywhere in scripture?? Is it like in school, extra credit courses look better on your transcript, so attending every service just looks better??

I believe there is a much better reason for attending every service faithfully. The story is told of a preacher who had moved into a new area and had been there for a couple of weeks. As he grew to know the members, he noticed that one had been absent for quite some time. Wanting to make his acquaintance he went out to the farm where this gentleman lived. As he knocked on the door he contemplated how best to convince this gentleman of his need to spend time in worship with his brethren. When the gentleman opened the door and recognized the new preacher, he invited him in, showed him to the living room and began to defend his practice of not attending. He began by stating that he was studying his Bible at home regularly and felt that he could do just as well by himself as he could going to the services. Remarkably, the preacher had remained silent during all of this. The preacher's attention seemed to be directed at the glowing flames in the fireplace. While the gentleman continued to defend himself, the preacher grabbed the poker and began to remove one of the red, hot coals from the fire and move it out to the hearth. The preacher still not saying a word began to concern the gentleman, so he took notice of what the preacher was doing. They both sat there as the preacher moved the coal further and further from the fire. As he moved it, the coal began to lose its bright red color, and quicker than you would think began to grow dim, turning gray then black. After a while, that coal was cool to the touch, all this time, the preacher remained silent. As the gentleman watched the demonstration he understood exactly what the preacher was teaching him and told the preacher, "I'll be at services next Lord's day and every opportunity I have thereafter". The preacher hearing this, took the coal and pushed it back into the fire where it quickly regained its bright red, fiery appearance. What was the lesson the preacher was teaching this gentleman? It is hard to remain on fire for the Lord, when you are all alone. The writer of Hebrews records in chapter 10 "and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging {one another;} and all the more as you see the day drawing near." Isn't it strange that when teaching how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, the writer of Hebrews tells us not to "forsake our assemblies." It is by the coming together that we gain strength and are encouraged. But many don't receive this encouragement as often as is necessary. The 1st century Christians were very fervent in their zeal for the Lord. What gave them their fire? Spending time with one another as often as possible. In Acts 2, Luke records that the new Christians "... were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship,..." he continues saying they were "... Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple,...". Everyday they were spending time in a study of God's word. Why is it that those who receive God's word for the first time, can't seem to get enough of it, but those who have ready access to God's word get too much from a 1 hour service? We cry out that the church is not growing as it did in the 1st century, but perhaps that is because we are not studying, "continually devoting" ourselves to the "apostles' teaching" and we are not "day by day continuing with one mind". Notice at the end of chapter 2 "the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved."

As many of you know, I am planning a trip to the Ukraine in July. If the Lord wills, we will travel to study the Gospel with babes in Christ who fully understand the need for regular study and long for more than they are receiving. Johnny Felker records that in two weeks, he and brother Deason held 13 studies, each lasting between 2-3 hours. In speaking of the difficulties of living in this part of the world, he remarks "Some of the ladies who have been baptized find themselves confronted with hostile home situations that intimidate them in their weak faith from coming. In some cases, they might have walk[ed] long distances after dark in neighborhoods where they might be assaulted. All of these factors add to the difficulty of attending services regularly. ... Yet in spite of these disappointments, there is a generous and appreciative spirit among those who remain and a desire to encourage those who struggle. Where in the States would people gladly attend 2-3 hour Bible studies under these conditions for nearly two weeks in a row and express regret that it is almost over? In our environment economic hardship is minimal, almost everyone owns a car and can buy gas for it, buildings have padded pews, and services last often no more than an hour. I must say that some of these people may rise up at the judgment and condemn those who have been so neglectful of the abundant spiritual opportunities they've been given". Unfortunately, brother Felker hit's the proverbial nail on the head. His thoughts are hurtful to many, but only hurt because we know them to be true. How many times during a Gospel meeting are we anxiously waiting for the end? Have you ever heard someone say, I wish we could do this more often? Unfortunately the idea is, let's have less meetings.

During my period of "trying out" for several congregations and also in my local work, I have made the point, that I would like to see the Wednesday evening services done away with and in it's place have Bible studies on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. I must tell you that in many instances, people looked at me like I was insane. This is the thought process of many, we meet enough as it is, you want to get together for Bible study more often???? I've even had people say to me, "It's hard enough attending the regular studies, I can't make it to more". Can't or won't? I'm sure that if we look at our schedules, we could open up a lot of time and devote it to the most important facet of the Christian's life, studying the Scriptures. We bemoan that we are losing our young people, and I believe the reason for that is we are constantly teaching them that service to the Lord is last place in our lives. We make time for every function their school provides. Notice I said make time. The problem people are having is they are trying to "find time" to serve the Lord more, and they just aren't going to "find" it. They must "MAKE" time, and what little extra time they may have, they are wasting it looking for more time to serve the Lord. I challenge everyone who reads this article, whether it be few or many, make the time for more study from God's word. Not only in private study, but also for studies with our brethren. I firmly believe that if we would be "continually devoting" ourselves to the "apostles' teaching" then we would find that the Lord would be adding to His church more often, and we would not be losing as many through apathy.

Are you studying God's word daily? Are you meeting with your brothers and sisters in Christ as often as you can and looking for more opportunities? If not why not? Make your life such that you will be like David and say "I was glad when they said to me, 'Let us go to the house of the Lord'" (Psalm 122:1)

Timothy R. Henderson