Hebrews 10:24-25 says:
"And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 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."
And this is usually quoted when someone is trying to explain the importance of weekly church attendance. But, is that really what God is trying to say here?
Is this really a command for Christians to sit in rows in an auditorium singing together and listening to a sermon? Or is it something more than that?
Is a Sunday service really the best place for Christians to "encourage one another" and "stir up one another to love and good works"? Or is there somewhere else this could be done more effectively?
Can the level of a person's devotion to Jesus really be determined by their Sunday attendance record? Or is it possible that their time might have been better spent somewhere else that morning?
What counts as "meeting together"?
For starters, let's look at the term "meeting together." How formal does this meeting have to be in order to count? Who needs to be at these meetings? And are there certain things that have to happen for them to qualify?
Meeting together, contrary to the way we typically talk about this passage, does not necessarily mean going to a meeting together. We meet with friends for coffee. We meet with our neighbors while on a walk. We meet up on our way to a concert or sporting event.
The vast majority of times we meet with other people throughout life are very informal. So, why should things be any different when it comes to our faith?
In fact, and maybe you agree with us here, we have felt far more encouraged and stirred up to love and good works by informal time together with other believers than we ever have in a formal church service.
"Let us consider"
These two verses begin with the words, "And let us consider how..."
This passage doesn't give us instructions for how we should meet together. Instead, it tells us to consider how we should meet together.
So, let's consider. How should we meet together?
For many Christians, the answer to this question will be to attend a weekly church service. And, for those people, that answer is completely appropriate. Our point here isn't to say church services are bad. But, for others, the answer will be different.
After writing about half of this article, we found another article on the same subject by John Pavlovitz. It's titled Relax Christian, You Don't Have to Go to Church. Apparently, we weren't the only ones who felt an urge to address this topic right now. In his article, John says:
"But the greater, far more glorious truth dear friend, is that you are the Church; that God is all around and ever-present and within you. And so wherever you find yourself this morning, that ground is holy. When your mind and heart are oriented toward the things of God, your very life is an act of worship."
We couldn't agree more.
It's been a few years since we consistently attended a typical Sunday morning church service. But, that doesn't mean we have neglected to meet with other Christians.
During that time, we have been part of Forge Sacramento, and an informal 3DM huddle. We have joined together with local pastors and other Christians trying to live on mission in Sacramento. And we have shared many meals with Christian friends, which gave us opportunities to talk about what has been happening in our lives to encourage and stir each other up.
And, what we like about this arrangement is that all of these "meetings" fit nicely into our lives. They integrate with the life God has called us to in our neighborhood. We don't have to tell our neighbors we can't be there to celebrate or mourn with them because we have to "go to church." And, we don't have to feel bad about "missing church" because we gather with Christians all the time.
Our faith influences every part of our lives. So, it seems appropriate that we should be able to meet together with other believers and be encouraged no matter where we are or what time it is. We are constantly surrounded by both believers and nonbelievers. And God uses all of them to teach us and build us up.
We pray that the same is true for you. Whether you attend a formal service or not.
Are you like us?
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