Acts 2:42 says, "They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." This passage is pretty plain regarding four main reasons we need to keep meeting.
- Teaching - We always need a teacher other than ourselves. Someone with a different perspective that can teach things that you have not discovered on your own. Perhaps someone who has studied longer or more in depth to cause you to dig deeper and grow to a greater maturity in your faith. None of us is finished learning.
- Fellowship - First, we all need some sort of interaction with people. Some require less than others, but we all need it. We were made to be relational people. Secondly, worship is sweeter when it is expressed in unity with fellow believers. Finally, as I will discuss further in just a moment, we need each other to lean on to run the race of faith.
- Breaking of Bread - Often church goers only identify "fellowship" with eating. However, you can have fellowship without eating. This breaking of bread, however, refers specifically to the ordinance of the Lord's Supper. Our human nature is to often forget the reason why we started doing something in the first place. The Lord's Supper was instituted to remind us that the church exists because of the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It also reminds us that we are only part of this church because we have been saved by the grace provided through the sacrifice of Christ and not because of our deeds. It is all due to the grace of God (Ephesians 2:8-9)
- Prayer - This is, unfortunately, one of the most neglected exercises of the church. I have always described prayer as the outlet to the power source for the Christian life. We must "plug in" to that power source which is Christ. Often we will only cry out in prayer when things get difficult. Paul says to "Pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17). We need to "plug in" to God and His power every day and every moment. That is what gives us strength and wisdom to face each day. That is what helps us stay attuned to the voice of God (praying is listening too). Prayer is what helps us conform to God's will. It's purpose is not to get God to conform to our will.
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24 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.The final purpose for going to church is to encourage each other through our fellowship. We are to encourage our fellow believers to remain faithful and to serve faithfully as Christians on a daily basis. We are also to be encouraged by them to do the same.
The question is: Is it possible to do all this without attending church? Yes, you could do all of it in some fashion, even fellowship. However, Christ's prayer for us was to be one in unity. Other believers are all we have when the world turns against us. We have a common bond in Christ and there is strength in numbers and voices are louder together than apart.
If you are not involved in a fellowship of believers, I would like to encourage you to get involved in one so you can reap all the benefits that are available. Yes, the church is full of broken and sinful people who mess up and hurt feelings, but you must remember that the church is a hospital for sinners and not a museum for saints. Come join us...wherever that may be in your community.
For God's Glory,
Chris S. Sweet