Why You Should Go to Church Anyway
By: Deji Yesufu
After work this past Monday, I was at the gate of our estate running an errand for my wife. I dedicated the half an hour I estimated it would take to listening to a question and answer session of the Grace Community Church online podcast. Pastor John MacArthur’s answers to questions by members of this congregation have a way of covering large swathes of topical issues in the Christian life and I benefit a lot from listening to them. With my ears plugged up to the earphone, I began to hear “Rev. Deji… Rev. Deji…,” from somewhere around me. I turned around and behold it was a dear sister from a local church I used to attend in this city. It has been a while I saw her and we tried to catch up on things.
“So how are things with you and the family?” I asked.
“We are fine, my brother.”
“I will not forget what you once told me o… That if everyone follows what you write on Facebook, Brother Deji, no one will go to church…” I told her.
“Yeah… But do you know that since the Coronavirus incidence started, I have not been to church.” She replied.
“You should go to church o… Whatever else I might say against churches on social media, I am still a faithful member of a congregation,” I said to her.
“Brother Deji, you know these churches…,” our discussion was interrupted as she needed to leave the busy estate road she had stopped by to chat up with me.
Since that meeting I have thought very deeply about that short conversation and I decided to write this piece to that lady and to anyone out there who may be growing weary of attending churches. I hope I can list a few reasons why we cannot give up on churches no matter what happens. I understand that church life in Nigeria can be incredibly wearying. There is the over demanding clergy; there is the deep hypocrisy among church people; there is even the Coronavirus pandemic with which many people are using to make excuse for their own decreasing interest in the gathering of God’s people. No matter the case, however, we must go to church. These are therefore a few reasons why we cannot but find an assembly where the name of Christ is named.
First we must go to church because the Bible commands us to do so. The book of Hebrews states:
“And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” (Hebrew 10:24-25).
Sunday morning worship is a ritual that every professing Christian must keep. The New Testament refers to Sunday as “The Lord’s Day”. It is the day our Lord rose from the dead and we honor the risen Christ by gathering with other professing Christians on that day to worship him, to thank him for his manifold blessings, to pray, and to fellowship with other Christians. We cannot sufficiently regard ourselves as members of the body of Christ in the celestial realm, if we despise the gathering of the body of Christ here on earth. There are a band of social media influencers who call themselves Christians who encourage a certain “lone ranging” behavior among Christians. They tell you that you can be a Christian and not be a member of a church. This is not true. As the writer of Hebrews says one reason we gather in church is to spur each other to love and good works. You cannot claim to love God who you cannot see when you despise other Christians who you see. Proof of your being part of the body of Christ in reality is that you will have a commitment to gathering physically with other Christians – looking for opportunities to bless people out of sincere love (In this essay I will not be responding to the matter of the Coronavirus and government high handiness at stopping church gathering because this is not the case in my polity here in Nigeria. People who have such challenges can read up other Christians’ submissions on it).
A second reason why you should go to church is because of your children. Many of us take what we know for granted and we sometimes assume that our children know just as much as we do. One of the realities that our days have shored up is the phenomenal numbers of cults that are present in society today. A boy I thought in Sunday school told me of how he imbibed Darwinism just by reading Wikipedia! It is simple: if we do not make the effort to teach our children something, some cult will fill their minds with false doctrine. One of the best ways to raise children is to imbibe it in their consciousness that weekly attendance in church is very important. In the process of coming to church, the child might hear the gospel preached and come to saving faith in Christ. Even if we complain that the churches do not preach the gospel anymore, Christ is still able to take one line of truth from the whole lot of gibberish a minister might be preaching to save the child. The fact is that the child is more likely to be converted coming to church than staying at home watching Nickelodeon.
A third reason we must go to church is because of the unbelieving all around us. When Christians gather in church, they preserve an assembly of saints on earth that the unbelieving can join when it eventually pleases God to save them. In church our faith in Christ is replenished and we are encouraged again to go into the world to continue to be witnesses for Jesus Christ. The local church in a community is the light of God’s grace to that community. It is through the church that the unbelieving in that community will ever hear the gospel preached. When Christians do not go to church, churches whittle down and die off. Then the community is plunged in spiritual darkness and then you will have the situation that Europe is in today where there is so much wealth but there are no gospel lights around. Europe has this day returned to her pagan past and it is Africans that are returning to that continent with the gospel message. When a generation ceases to go to church, the church building will be closed down or turned to shopping malls or even mosques.
As we admonish ourselves on church going, this question that is frequently asked may come up: what church should I go to? This is a question that comes up in the light of the huge varieties of denominations and churches that transcend the Nigerian landscape. I will simply answer by saying that you should go to a church where the Bible is taught. I am a reformed Baptist but unfortunately for me there is no reformed Baptist Church in the city of Ibadan. The closest in my doctrinal stance is the local Anglican and interdenominational church in my city. So I go to the Chapel of the Resurrection, University of Ibadan. To their credit, and where they have not wholly been given over to charismatic madness, many Pentecostal churches are still faithful to the Bible. So you may consider going to the nearest Pentecostal Church to you. Where you cannot find a typical Protestant church in your locality, I would recommend you go to a Roman Catholic Church. You will at the least hear the name of Christ named there. I do not recommend churches like Jehovah Witnesses or Mormons. These congregations have been proven to be cult gatherings.
As I appeal to people to go to church, I must also make an appeal to ministers of churches. Gentlemen pastors, I appeal to you to preach the word of God – whatever else you do. I am writing this essay because people are getting tired of churches and you pastors are the cause of this lethargy. The Bible refers to pastors as individuals who care for the flock of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately many pastors abuse their congregations spiritually. They curse them; they bind them up with weights that they themselves will not attempt to carry. It is high time we remind pastors that there is curse and a judgement on ministers who do not take care of God’s people: you will wish you had not been born on the day of judgement. Again, I appeal to you: take care of the flock of Christ for which he paid for with his own blood.
I will like to end this essay on a positive note. So there is this social media influencer with quite a following on Facebook. Recently he told us that his father had made him to promise to return to church this year, 2021. I recommended a church to him in Lagos and I was really elated to hear that he went there last Sunday. I pray he finds the place conducive and stays. Friends, there are many reasons to go to church; I have only listed a few in this essay. Let us just say this in summary that you will be better off as a person using the few hours of your Sunday morning among Christians than staying at home or just watching a sermon on TV. For one thing, the Lord Jesus Christ gathers with his people every Sunday and he leaves a blessing in that gathering. This Sunday, go and partake of that blessing.