WHY ATTEND CHURCH?

Why attend church? Some feel it is important. Others do not. Solomon's sermon (cf. Ecc. 1:1), which makes up the book of Ecclesiastes, is oriented to Israel under the Law, but it is possible to make a New Testament application of its truth.

Ecclesiastes 5:1 says, "Walk prudently when you go to the house of God; and draw near to hear, rather than to give the sacrifice of fools." Though it is the Jewish temple Solomon has in mind, the principles can be applied to believers today on this side of the cross, gathering in the meeting place of the local church.

1) Why attend church? BECAUSE IT'S THE RIGHT THING TO DO, as an integral part of your life and service for Christ. Hypocrisy is a sin. Religious ceremony as a veneer dressing up a wayward life is an abomination to God. Literally, "guard your feet;" give attention to how you live and act, each day of the week. Don't be just a Sunday-go-to-meetin' Christian!

2) Go to church TO LEARN. "Draw near to hear." Go with the intention of hearing and obeying the Word of God. (The biblical use of the word "hear" often includes heeding what is heard, cf. Matt. 13:9.)

3) Go to church TO GIVE (to God and others). The "sacrifice" spoken of seems to be the Peace [or Fellowship] Offering, based on the Hebrew word used. This was the one offering of which the offerer got to partake. The "fool" is one who focuses on his own indulgence, rather than on offering worship to God. Thus he represents those who attend church to be entertained (euphemistically called "being blessed"). They focus on what they can get, rather than on what they can give. (There is a New Testament parallel in the abuse of the Lord's Table by the Corinthian church, I Cor. 11:20-21.)

It was John Milton who wrote, "Loneliness is the first thing which God's eye named not good" (from Topical Encyclopedia of Living Quotations ). Conversely, there is a mutual advantage in getting together.

Consider Solomon's reminder, in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, about the value of a cooperative effort and a pooling of resources. His words have relevance for today. Hebrews exhorts us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together (Heb. 10:25). Why? Why attend a church? Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 suggests several more benefits.

4) Go to church in order TO DO MORE FOR THE LORD. On our own, we will accomplish less in our service for Christ, and the local church may be weakened by our lack of involvement (vs. 9);

5) Go to church FOR HELP IN CHRISTIAN LIVING. In times of temptation, or when we stumble into sin, we need our brothers and sisters in Christ to exhort us and ultimately to restore us (vs. 10; cf. Prov. 27:17);

6) Go to church TO BE MOTIVATED. We need the encouragement others can provide, as they stir up faith, hope and love, and spur us on to live for Christ (vs. 11--"warmth" can be used as a metaphor for encouragement and inspiration);

7) Why attend church? Go to church FOR PROTECTION. Satan, the enemy of our souls is strong, and this godless world opposes the cause of Christ. Christians need to stand shoulder to shoulder, and aid one another in the fight (vs. 12).