Most of God’s people are deeply thankful to be a part of God’s Church. And most of those who live within a reasonable driving distance consider the opportunity to attend services to be among their greatest blessings. For them, Sabbath services are the highlight of the week and Holy Day services are the highlights of the year.
They consider services an oasis in a spiritual desert. They look forward to each service as a time to be recharged spiritually. They have a love of learning and come hungry to hear God’s Word.
They love coming out of an alien world to be among like-minded brethren. They delight in the fellowship, hymns, music, prayers and hearing news of God’s Work. They relish the opportunity to serve and encourage fellow members and take on responsibilities within the congregation. In addition to the fellowship with members, they know they have a special fellowship with God as they come into His presence to worship Him.
May this article benefit all members. For those who love God’s services, may your appreciation be reinforced. For those who have begun to take them for granted and have let down in regular church attendance, may you recapture your first love.
For those who are not convinced of the importance of weekly attendance, may the following scriptures and principles from God’s Word convict you of the emphasis that God places on regular participation in church services. And for those whose absenteeism is a symptom of apathy, may these words be a small part of God’s effort to bring you out of the lukewarm attitude.
There are several related subjects that point to the importance of church services. Much is said in the New Testament about local churches. There would hardly be any need for local congregations if God didn’t intend for His people to attend the services. Much is said about ministers, teaching and preaching. What would be their purpose if there were no assemblies and no one to hear the preaching? Much is said about relationships among God’s people. This would make no sense if God’s people were never together.
Church services are holy convocations. The English phrase “holy convocation(s)” is in four chapters of the KJV and the NKJV: Exodus 12, Leviticus 23, Numbers 28 and Numbers 29. In most of the scriptures, the phrase “holy convocations” is in connection with the annual Holy Days, but in Leviticus 23:3 Leviticus 23:3Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; you shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings.
American King James Version×, it is in connection with the weekly Sabbath. In Leviticus 23:2 Leviticus 23:2Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts.
American King James Version×and 4, the phrase relates to all of God’s Feasts, including the Sabbath.
According to these scriptures, the principal feature of each Sabbath and Holy Day is “a holy convocation.”
A convocation is a commanded or required assembly. A holy convocation is an assembly that God authorizes and announces and expects His people to attend. It is as if God sounds a trumpet call to assembly. The convocation or assembly is not a suggestion; it is not optional; it is God’s command.
The assemblies are an important part of Sabbath-keeping. God made holy time partly to provide a time for God’s people to assemble and worship Him. And it is a time when Christ can cleanse His Church with “the washing of water by the word” and remove its spots and wrinkles (Ephesians 5:25-27 Ephesians 5:25-27  Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
American King James Version×).
God Wants Togetherness
When Jesus said, “I will build My church” (Matthew 16:18 Matthew 16:18And I say also to you, That you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
American King James Version×), He clearly intended a team effort where His followers would work and worship together. The word together appears in the KJV 469 times, and many of the scriptures refer to God’s people being together. God wants the unity and community that comes from togetherness.
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psalms 133:1 Psalms 133:1Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!
American King James Version×). “Now I plead with you, brethren…that you be perfectly joined together” (1 Corinthians 1:10 1 Corinthians 1:10Now I beseech you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
American King James Version×). In Colossians, Paul speaks of being “knit together in love” (2:2) and “all the body, nourished and knit together” (2:19).
The next set of verses that use the word together clearly state the main purpose of this article: “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25 Hebrews 10:24-25  And let us consider one another to provoke to 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 you see the day approaching.
American King James Version×).
How can we stir up love and good works if we don’t meet together? God tells us that we should strive to assemble and encourage one another more often, not less often, as we see the Day of the Lord approaching.
The logical conclusion is that God’s people should try to get together every Sabbath as a minimum. If they can get together during the week for Bible studies, social and recreational activities, meals, etc., so much the better.
One of the themes of the book of Hebrews is an exhortation to spiritually persevere to the end. “For you have need of endurance, so that…you may receive the promise” (10:36). Long-time Jewish Christians had become discouraged and were letting down, and Hebrews pleads with them to renew their zeal, since those who continue to “assemble together” are much more likely to endure to the end.
What About Staying Home and Listening to Sermons?
Some members have chosen to stay home on the Sabbath to listen to recorded sermons or a webcast even when they were healthy and able to travel. Perhaps they reasoned that if they hear a sermon, pray and sing hymns, they get almost as much benefit as from attending a service. There are several flaws in this reasoning. First, what does God think of it? God wants us to get spiritual nourishment every day of the week, but for the Sabbath, He ordained that His people also assemble in holy convocations. There are many benefits of group worship and fellowship. Also, we should examine ourselves to see if there is a wrong motive for wanting to stay home. Is it a character flaw, such as laziness? Is it a desire to avoid someone with whom we have experienced a conflict?
There is a major flaw in thinking only of what one can get from services. Members should think more in terms of what they can give at services rather than what they receive.
We give to God with our reverence, singing and worship. God is pleased when we gather to worship Him (Psalms 111:1 Psalms 111:1Praise you the LORD. I will praise the LORD with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright, and in the congregation.
American King James Version×).
We also give to our brethren through our fellowship. We reach out and serve one another by being good listeners and by giving encouragement and comfort. Almost everyone is experiencing trials, and many members carry heavy burdens and sorrows. So a Sabbath service is a wonderful time to practice Romans 12:15 Romans 12:15Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.
American King James Version×: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”
And fellowship builds love. Jesus said, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35 John 13:35By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.
American King James Version×). It certainly won’t appear to the world that we love each other if we aren’t doing our best to meet together.
We also give to the world through our collective effort to preach the gospel, and to the community through outreach programs. These are discussed in announcements and fellowship at services.
Not “Worthy” to Attend?
Some members have stayed away from services because of feelings of guilt or unworthiness. But the Church is not a club of honorees whose members are invited because of their achievements. Instead, God’s Church should be viewed as a spiritual hospital that all of us need because of our various spiritual “sicknesses.”
The actions and attitudes of the early Christians should be our model in many ways. “Now all who believed were together…. So continuing daily with one accord…” (Acts 2:44 Acts 2:44And all that believed were together, and had all things common;
American King James Version×, 46). They were fervent in their desire to spend as much time as they could with their brothers and sisters in Christ.
Many members long to attend services but are not able to, or not able to on a weekly basis, because there is no congregation close to them or a health problem prevents them from going. God will bless them for having a right attitude and doing the best they can. They can at least benefit from the opportunity to have a webcast or recorded sermons sent to them from the home office.
God’s holy convocations are a great blessing for His people. God wants us to have the attitudes described in the opening of this article. When we have the opportunity, He wants us to be committed and faithful in church attendance. He wants His Church to be a family that prays together, plays together and stays together.