Published Sept. 15, 2009

Paul's Epistle...
"Togetherness (Responses)"

Last week in this space I wrote about the need for Christians to regularly attend a local fellowship of believers – a church – so that they could be nurtured and encouraged in their faith. I mentioned the Biblical mandate that we find in Hebrews 10:25 to do just that.

The article drew a lot of interesting responses. Here are a few:

"My sweet mama thought that if you weren't in church whenever there was church, if the Lord came, you wouldn't be taken. (Smile.) Daddy had a different version. He said, ‘if you have to ask yourself if you're going (to Sunday School or church) you probably aren't going to make it.' So in our home, we just knew that whenever the doors of the church were open, we were going to be there. My husband and I made that same pact when we got married. We will always be in church, barring sickness, wherever we are on Church day. It's a great place to be." – P.

"I so enjoy reading your letters. This week in particular about fellowship meant so much to me. My husband is a pastor of a small country church. Sometimes we both get really discouraged. Then we remember what the Lord said, [that] if two or more are gathered together, He is there with us. God is good and faithful..." – P. J.

"Over the years we have seen individuals get disgruntled over something (normally small) and leave a church. Provided the opportunity occurs, we always encourage them to stay in fellowship. [But] nearly every time those individuals stop fellowshipping. How said it is that they did not read Hebrews 10:25..." – R. F.

"Paul it is so important that...Christians go to church as much as possible... I sing with a Southern Gospel quartet and meet many people that claim to be Christian but [they] will admit that ‘they don't attend church like they should.' My question is, how can you not? I need my church family!!. If I am sick and miss one service I miss the fellowship so badly my week is not complete... After what Jesus did for us at Calvary...can we not give a few hours a week of our busy lives? If we don't want to offer and/or receive support of our brothers and sisters after being surrounded by the world all week, I say shame on us!!" – K. M.

But we also heard from some people who are themselves struggling with where they should attend church:

"Paul, I'm experiencing a time of not wanting to attend church. After twenty-two years of going to a great place of worship things have changed so much. The music is awful (just a bunch of LOUD noise to me) and the same song is sung over and over and over till a person just wants to run away. I've gone to other churches and in fact moved my membership, but the new places have changed their music to similar styles. I can't find a place that includes some old hymns along with the modern choruses and has good teaching also... I'm hearing the same complaint more and more.... I don't know what the answer is but I do know the Lord keeps reminding me to ‘not forsake the assembling of ourselves together.' I guess I will keep searching for a place to belong." – G. R.

"We have struggled with this for several years. One option we did was to go to a large Bible class on Sunday mornings. Then we had the teaching, but only had to hear the loud, unpleasant music at a distance in the hallway. Then I've attended parttime at a...church which has lots of good about it, but preaching isn't the depth we were used to, but their music is excellent! Our latest solution is that I was asked to play for a Sunday morning service at a nursing home... So even thought we can't say we have a church home, we are connected... My heart goes out to many, many people who are in this situation. A local businessman working in our business park area came over one morning, looked at my beautiful roses, and made a comment about how could anyone not believe there is a God when you look at creation. The ensuing conversation indicated here's another guy disenchanted with having to listen to rock music in church, so he's stopped going..." – N. D.

My heart certainly goes out to folks who are struggling with this problem. Many years ago when Shelia and I decided to change churches, we planned to visit many churches in the area, but were committed to be somewhere – worshipping in some Bible-believing church – every Sunday. We visited huge churches and very small churches and several sizes in between. We wound up in a small church – and are still there – which has traditional services, mostly hymns and good preaching.

I would strongly encourage anyone searching for a new church home diligently to continue your search. Visit many churches, not just a few. Get a feel for what's available. Each church has strengths and weaknesses, but I am pretty sure there is at least one church fellowship reasonably near to you that will meet your need for fellowship, exhortation, solid Bible instruction and, yes, worshipful music..

Most importantly, pray about the situation. Don't get upset about that last church that disappointed you. Pray, rather, for a sense of excitement as you seek a new fellowship. And ask God to direct you. He just might send you to a bunch of churches so that you can see what's out there before finally leading you to the one He has for you. Don't give up or get discouraged. Christ will not leave you an "orphan." (John 14:18.)

And, by all means, once you find that church where you belong, become an active participant in it. In the spirit of Romans 12 and 1st Corinthians 12, you may be just the "eye" or the "ear" that this particular body of believers needed.

- Paul

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