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Let Us Not Forsake the Assembly

Over the weekend, I took my 17 year old Madison out of town to a livestock show. The show activities were on Saturday and Sunday, and we noticed in the program that there would be a worship service held in the show arena bright and early Sunday morning just before the first of the animals was to be exhibited.

I was exited to attend the service since there were nearly a thousand people at the livestock show. I had seen plenty of the attendees wearing shirts with Bible verses on them, and I envisioned many voices coming together to sing, “Oh, How I Love Jesus” and “Amazing Grace”.

We left our hotel early enough on Sunday so we could arrive on time at the worship service. As we passed by the animals stalls I noticed lots of people grooming their animals and chatting cheerily with their neighbors. I made my way to the show arena and saw 2 ladies with their children. I checked the time. 8:32. The worship service was to start at 8:30. Confused, I asked the ladies whether I was in the wrong place. They said they were also waiting for the worship assembly.

A few more people came in, and finally the worship leader. I looked around in tears and counted.

23 people came to the worship service.

23 out of nearly a thousand.

I’m about to step on some toes, but this is something that needs to be said.

In fact, it was said long ago in the New Testament book of Hebrews.

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 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.” (Hebrews 10:23-25)

I have been noticing more and more children’s activities, such as soccer, baseball, stock shows, and cheer, taking place on Sunday. As you have read in this post, we have attended some of these ourselves.

But it is a sad, sad state when Christians can not stop to take even a few minutes out of our busy schedules of trivial activities to worship our Savior.

I wondered as I stared, teary-eyed back to the area where the stalls were, where there was a buzz of busy activity, what our Lord must be thinking.

Let us not forsake the assembly, as some are in the habit of doing, but encourage one another to love and good deeds.

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Comments

  1. It is us christians that are allowing this to happen. When we don’t stand up for what is right and just go along (attending these activities which clearly have been scheduled by people who do not care which day of the week it is) we allow this as acceptable behavior. If we would stand against it and not attend then maybe we would make a statement and activities, games, etc wouldn’t be scheduled on Sunday. (BTW – I am a guilty party!)We as christians must stand up against a world that is standing up against us!

  2. You have hit on a topic that “gets” me as well. I was raised by parents who made it clear that we would not participate in an activity that consistently kept us from worship. That’s not to say we never missed church, but we made an effort where ever we were to gather with sisters and brothers in Christ to worship Him.
    Now, as a mom of two active kids, I understand the struggle my parents had going against the grain and I am tremendously grateful. As my children hit their teenage years it softens my heart to see the struggle has been worth it when they notice others missing from our services and they miss their presence in worship.
    Thankfully, because we home educate, our children can be on highly competitive basketball teams that are coached by Christian men (some are pastors!) and there is no practice or games on Sundays (or Wednesdays) – ever. We are blessed!
    At the next livestock show, could I encourage you to get there just a bit earlier? Invited those you pass by to join you in worship. It may be the only nudge they need to come and hear the Word.
    Thank you for always sharing your heart, it blesses me so!

  3. As M Eaves said, it’s our own fault. If Christians would hold tight to not attending things on Sunday – and let organizers know that – then they would stop doing it!

  4. love this post! It’s hard to get 9 children read to go to church, but we’re pretty faithful, and always a little early. Many singles arrive late! Many people just don’t go when it’s not convenient. I know a family who doesn’t go to church because their toddler twins make attending challenging. Good for you, Connie! Shining your light!

  5. Mama Mirage says:

    :( It is very sad.

  6. I’m French and ,where we live, we are lucky enough to have 4 “Sunday services” every week-end: one on Saturday evening, one at 9:00 am on Sunday, the other one at 11:00 and the last one on Sunday evening. Our church decided it in order to make it possible for everyone to attend church over the week end, even if they have activities planned for sunday.
    I must say that it is very strange for me to go on saturday (i feel like it’s not the real Sunday service), but it is very convenient to be able to chose between 9 and 11 depending on planned activities. Is there anything like this in your community?

  7. Amen and thank you! It is so frustrating to see “Christians” increasingly put other things before the assembly of the saints. What are others who are outside the church supposed to think about the lack of commitment to such a basic command?

  8. I’m sure your position here is more of confusion, as you even mention what our Lord must be thinking, rather than judgement. However, I encourage you to think further about this. Rather than assume that those thousands of people easily gave up their worship that morning, consider that perhaps many of them may not be church attending Christians, or even Christians, for that matter. It may not have even occurred to them that they ought to be attending the service. It could be that they are so “into” their own denomination or congregation that they didn’t even consider attending another service. It could be that they only looked at the part of the schedule that affected them and they didn’t even know it was going on. Lastly, as you mentioned, “I have been noticing more and more children’s activities, such as soccer, baseball, stock shows, and cheer, taking place on Sunday. As you have read in this post, we have attended some of these ourselves,” it could be that they struggled with the decision to be away from church for the weekend, but eventually came to peace with it.

    Really, it’s not our place to try to evaluate *why* someone didn’t attend, but rather to invite them to attend. No matter what the reason those people weren’t attending, a simple, sweet question, “Will you be joining us at the worship service in just a few minutes?” may have increased the turnout and it may have brought something to someone that they didn’t have before, the most of which would have been salvation to someone who has yet to know our Savior. I encourage you, next year, rather than assuming all those people will attend, to be bold and your sweet self and invite others to attend.

    I often hear that in our spiritual walk, “It’s not about you” (it’s about Him), but often times it is about us – growing us to reach out, love one another, and help gather that assembly because that makes it about Him.

    • Really good point, Chick Hatchers. My family would often go to events/competitions for my sister or I on the weekend, and we were always required to attend church (we usually went to a Saturday or Sunday evening mass); however, we wouldn’t have attended something like this because we were Catholic and it sounds like this was an interdenominational/evangelical protestant service. While there are many Christians that would feel comfortable/at home in a service like this, there are many that would not, it doesn’t make them bad Christians, it just might mean they made other plans :)

  9. We do not participate in sports yet. However, when Halloween hit on Wednsday it was very sad to see the choices others made. Instead of attending bible study MANY chose to trick or treat. Our family has made the commitment to not allow extra activities hider us from attending worship/bible study.

    • Where is it mandated in Scripture that one attends a Wednesday night service? One must be careful not to add man-made laws to your world view, and then judge others based on them.

      • While Wed. evening services are not in the Bible (not everything is spelled out in black and white but deferred to—not this issue of Wed. church but others), it is found in Hebrews 10:25 “Not forsaking the assembly of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” We make it a practice to be in the Lord’s house every time the door is open…Sunday morning, Sunday night (these are 2 separate services, not the same message being preached) and Wed. night prayer meeting.

        • Rebecca,

          I understand your position, but your preference to “practice to be in the Lord’s house every time the door is open,” is just that–a preference. You must not judge others if they don’t adhere to the same practice. I attend a biblically sound Reformed church, and we don’t have a Sunday night service, nor is there a Wednesday service. There are classes that are available on Wednesday, but if I choose to attend them, or not, that has absolutely nothing to do with how much I love God. At the church I attend, I probably could find some activity to attend every night of the week, but I don’t choose to do that. We have choir, small groups, AWANA, a Wednesday night kids’ program, youth small groups on Thursday, but, again, these are offered, but not essential to attend to grow in the Lord. It is akin to me telling you that I expect you to come to a party that I’m going to throw, and demanding to know what you’ll bring to the party. Just because the church comes up with a new program doesn’t mean that I need to attend. Don’t get me wrong, I am active in church, because it IS a biblical mandate that we exercise our spiritual gifts, and share in each others’ lives, and fellowship with believers. However, that isn’t limited to church attendance.

          Please answer this: does attending church every time the door is open, mean that you love Jesus, or desire Him more than someone who doesn’t? Sorry, it smacks of legalism. I am going to hazard a guess that you attend a Baptist church.

          • That’s very rude. You should have left out the last sentence. Not all Baptist churches are legalistic. I could mention some negative things I’ve heard and observed about Reformed churches (not to mention some doctrinal problems), but I chose to believe that there are plenty of God-honoring Reformed churches who do not display the negative characteristics I have observed. You talked about judging other people in your comment, and then completely discredited yourself with your own remarks.

            • Amy, the comment about being Baptist was in relation to having two services on Sunday, and one on Wednesday. Please forgive me. My intention was not to be rude. It would have been nice if you had asked me if my intent was to be catty,
              rather than just assume. But, the juxtaposition of the statements was not intentional. I am sorry, but also would have liked a bit of grace extended.

              Yes, of course, there are problems with every church, every sect, etc. But, again, that wasn’t my point.

              • I’m glad your intent wasn’t to be catty, but when you say, “Sorry, it smacks of legalism. I am going to hazard a guess that you attend a Baptist church,” it leaves one with more than just an assumption. And I realize the whole comment wasn’t directed toward that; I purposefully referenced your last sentence. My husband is the pastor of Cornerstone Church. We specifically do not have any affiliation linked with our name, because assumptions are always made as soon as someone sees a denomination.

                • Sorry, Amy, I don’t agree with your assessment. You made an assumption that I was being rude. Instead of asking me, or giving me the benefit of the doubt, you, instead, mentioned problems with Reformed theology (BTW, you may not agree with the theology, but that doesn’t mean there are “doctrinal problems”).

                  Ironically, the comment wasn’t even directed to you, but, anyway, I’m sorry that I offended you.

          • I was not judging, I don’t see anywhere in my post that I said you must be at church every time there is a service. I said WE my family do this. We CHOOSE to attend every service. Just as you CHOOSE not to. Nothing legalistic about it, it’s between me, my husband and The Lord Jesus and what is right for us. We make everything we do, every decision, every wish and need known to God, for His direction and guidance. I’m sorry if you felt you were judged, I don’t see how, I never said “Cathy get thee to church, for every service or face wrath”. I am a Christian, a Christ follower, a Christ worshipper, a Christ lover. DOES it mean I love Jesus or desire Him more than someone else? I don’t know, I am Rebecca, not anyone else. I choose Him because He chose to die for me, He didn’t have to, He chose to. When He lays on my heart to do whatever it is for Him, isn’t it the least I can do for Him taking my sin and shame for me? I don’t judge anyone here or in the real world for anything they do or don’t do for Christ, that’s between them and God and I don’t have to answer for it. I just know I desire Him and love Him and want to please Him and I hate to fail Him, as I do daily. So, Cathy, “you must not judge others if they don’t adhere to the same practice.”

            • Ouch, Rebecca. Of course, again the irony is that Tricia didn’t respond to initial comment, but you did. Seemingly, she made a value judgement when she said that it was “sad” that people chose Halloween over the Wednesday night service.

              I never stated that I felt judged. However, you intimated that attending those services was in keeping with Hebrews 10:25, and I disagreed. I fail to see how I judged you. I don’t know the intent of your heart. If I was to impugn motive, then, yeah, I would be judging. But I did none of that.

              I have no idea what you mean when you said that the Bible doesn’t make everything black and white, but that it is “deferred to.” The black and white part is understandable, but you lost me on the other part.

              Finally, as to my original comment, I am trying to understand why someone (Tricia) would feel “sad” if someone observed Halloween rather than attend a Wednesday night service. That is when you answered, and this thing went far afield.

              Sorry, Rebecca, I’ve got nothin’ else for you. If you don’t mind, I think that I will close out the discussion on my end.

              As I wrote to Amy, if you were offended by me, I am sorry. I ask your forgiveness.

              Enjoy the rest of your evening.

              • No offense, I couldn’t care less what anyone thinks. But, I will point out, you replied to MY post, if you see way up there,^^^, it has “Rebecca,”. I hope I didn’t offend you (the “ouch” up there, you know). Maybe Tricia didn’t reply because you didn’t address her. Or she may have no idea anyone responded to her comments. I would love to speak further about black and white issues and such, but since you’ve dismissed me and have nothing further, I won’t bother you about it. God bless you and your family.

  10. Worship is about pleasing God, we are to do as he commanded not simply do whatever we wish. God expects that we will not forsake the assembly because he has told us in his word not to do so. Worship in the old testament was filled with sacrifices of animals and although Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice so we no longer fall under the old laws we are still called in the new testament to sacrifice.
    Romans 12:1 states: I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
    Being a living sacrifice isn’t easy…it means going against the grain and it means putting God first always.
    Sometimes worship services happen at 8am…maybe (hopefully!) some of the people were attending one of those and planning to be just a little late to the first event at 9am.
    Your blog ALWAYS encourages me and I am so grateful to read things like this in a world where so many things aren’t standing up for God. Tolerance has gotten so out of hand that sometimes it feels like the only thing people aren’t tolerant of is Christianity. :(

  11. Katena Dyser says:

    We do not attend our church anymore. Why because people have told us in not a nice way. We needed to find another hobby other than sex. We had 3 pregnancies one year that resulted in 2 healthy boys. We are the parents of 6 boys. We have a autistic son that they are not willing to accomadate. We did a lot of volunteering in both of these churches. I was appalled when the preacher ask if we were Catholic. I have been married to my husband 16 years and been together for 20. This is why I do not go because of people like these.

    • You should try to find another church to attend. I’m sorry that people have hurt you with unkind words, but someday you will stand before the Lord, and you will not be able to blame other people for your actions. The Lord commands us to worship and serve in a local assembly, and no amount of sin on other people’s part should keep you from obeying Him. Maybe you could look around in your area and see if there is another more like-minded assemble who you could worship with. I wish you the best.

      • I would like to add that “not forsaking the assembly” does not necessarily mean attending a traditional church building every Sunday morning. Our family has chosen to worship at home for a season. We “assemble together” as a family of 7. Though we still gather with other like-minded believers on other days of the week, we do not attend a Sunday morning service outside of the home.

        • Kristen, I don’t necessarily think that church has to be in a church building, either. I actually didn’t mention a building, but an assembly. New Testament Scripture regarding the local church does not bear out the validity of a one family church, though. I was just reading, coincidentally, this morning in I Tim. 3, where the elder is called to have his family in order, because if he can’t keep his own household in order, how will he rule well the church of God? (Major paraphrase, there :) ) But there is definitely a distinction between the two (a family and a church). Other passages discuss multiple positions of elder and deacon, caring for widows in the assembly ( if their family can’t), older women teaching the younger women to care for their families and houses (they already have families here, not for when they’re grown up), etc. Numerous instructions that would lead one to believe that the church was intended to be made up of more that just one family unit. Ironically, the original passage referred to in Hebrews is in the context of people being blinded by their own sin when they neglect to meet with other believers, because it’ easy for us to not see our own sinfulness, but when we’re in fellowship with those outside our little sphere, they can see things we can’t. Anyway, I realize that there are times in extreme situations where a family has no choice, but it should not be the long term plan. The Lord is definitely still maintaining His church here on planet earth until His return, and it is our responsibility to find a local assembly of believers (no matter where they choose to meet), and get intimately connected with them (even with all their warts and bruises and mistakes and sinfulness). It’s our call as members of Christ’s body while we wait for His return. Respectfully, Amy (There are several Amy’s commenting on this post!)

    • I suppose being called “Catholic” is an insult? I would have taken it as a compliment to my pro-life views. The Church on earth is imperfect because it is full of us–ordinary people. Humans. Sinners. There is no perfect church on this earth. But again, obeying the sabbath is not about being warm and fuzzy and comfortable. It’s about worshipping God. Sometimes we need to make the effort (myself included) to seek out the good in our fellow sinners, and do what we want others to do for us: forgive.

  12. I live in an area of the country where there would never even be a service offered. If there were, we would be the only two people sitting there. Glad you got to attend one! I was actually thinking the same thing as another commenter. How do you know any of them were Christians at all? If I went to a livestock show on a Sunday morning, I wouldn’t expect anyone there to be a believer. We very rarely miss a Sunday service, but my husband is a pastor, so it would be kind of hard, anyway! :)

  13. I am so glad you are sensitive to this trend. Rest assured there are other believers who are standing against these events invading our Lord’s Day. I would also encourage you that some may have already scoped out a church in the area to attend that morning and went there as doctrine does matter too. Thank you for bringing this to light. We’re with ya, sista.

  14. Connie,
    Thank you for this post! I always wonder why my daughter’s sports are on Sundays. She attends the parochial school where we attend church. I’ve always made a promise that Sundays are to be reserved for church and family. Unfortunately, Sundays are now reserved for church, family and her games. It saddens me that even teams affiliated with the Catholic Church where we worship are expected to have games on what I always felt was the day of rest. I suppose very little is sacred anymore. Thanks again for expressing your opinion–it truly needed to be said.
    Blessings,
    Esther

  15. It is a compliment that people ask if we are catholic. But I want a church where I feel comfortable and don’t have to explain myself. Thanks for the comments

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