We need some terminology shifts in our discussion about weekend gatherings of the church. First of all, the word “attendance” implies that church is an event that we support and make happen with our attendance. But church isn’t an event. And while the church is “local” in its expression, it isn’t defined by a building or a location either.
Church is people. The church is a covenant people who are united by our belief in Jesus, our baptism, and by communion, and we commonly crave to celebrate the presence of Jesus among His people collectively. It’s a communion of people who depend on and crave Jesus and each other, so we show up out of our common desperation for more of His truth, His presence, and the fellowship of His people.
The writer of Hebrews encouraged us to “not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:25 NLT) This isn’t written as an imperative or a command, as though attending the weekend event is a legal obligation. Rather it’s written as an urging to us to gather because it’s necessary for our growth and our encouragement.
The church, with all of her flaws, is a beautiful mess. Gathering with the church on the weekend matters because people matter to God, and God definitely matters to His people. So we gather to worship, to learn, to witness, and to draw life from Him and from one another.
With whom, with what church, and where are you going to gather this weekend?