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attendance church attendance Hebrews worship

Hebrews 10:25 And COVID-19

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary III

Gary Pollard

An alarming number of people today are obsessed with the COVID-19 outbreak. Nearly every post on social media is focused on it, stores are selling out of essentials, and it comes up in nearly every conversation. This article is not about Coronavirus-19. I’m tired of reading about it and I’m assuming you are, too.

Because the virus is particularly dangerous for older people or those with underlying conditions (a healthy demographic in the church), many congregations have cancelled or reduced services until something can be worked out. As a result, some have attempted to use scripture to claim that these measures are unscriptural.

Some have pointed to the early church: despite the threat of death from man, they continued worshipping. This is true, but that threat was persistent for years. Even then, many early churches met at extreme hours and in extreme secrecy during the worst of persecution. This is not the case today.

Some have pointed to Hebrews 10.25 to say that cancelling services is the same as “forsaking the assembly.” We will look at this passage closely, but we need to keep something very important in mind: most of writings set after the establishment of the church are focused on Christian living. Our standard of conduct, our speech, our attitude toward the world, our understanding of God, how to employ wisdom, etc. are the focus of the vast majority of the New Testament.

For perhaps more than a few, the sum total of their Christianity is the worship assembly on Sunday and Wednesday. Worship is extremely important to godly living and it would be egregiously false to state otherwise (as some state, “I am dedicated to God, not the church”). However, there is but one fragment of a sentence in all of scripture dedicated to the importance of consistent attendance. It is binding and important, but some place a disproportionate emphasis on this passage to the neglect of the rest of scripture. To use the words of Jesus, “They strain at a gnat and swallow a camel” (Matthew 23.23ff).

Hebrews 10.25 states, “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.” The next verse says, “For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins…” Verse 29 makes it very clear that 10.25 is talking about “trampling under foot the son of God…”

It is important to note that “forsaking” in 10.25 is ἐγκαταλείποντες (eingkataleipontes), which means to leave, abandon, or desert. The word is also a present active participle in this text, which describes a continuous, willful abandonment of the worship assembly. The same word is to describe a man leaving his father and mother and clinging to his wife. It is a more or less permanent abandonment, not a temporary one.

What does this mean for Christians in 2020? It means that cancelling a few services to avoid spreading a very contagious virus is not a sin. This does not equal, “trampling the son of God under your foot.” It means that trying to bind Hebrews 10.25 in this case is worse than merely bad scholarship – it is binding where God has not bound. It means that, while worship is vital and important, we must focus just as much on godly living and the whole of scripture as we do this one verse.

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attendance church attendance excuses Uncategorized

Allergic To Church?

Neal Pollard

A Christian lady asked her neighbor to attend a gospel meeting with her. The neighbor said neither “yes” nor “no.” He said that he and his wife could not attend church because of her allergies! Apparently, the perfumes of those attending so bothered her that she could not go to a house of worship. He conceded the awfulness of her situation, but he was confident God would overlook their lack of attendance.

This same sister, who knows and loves that couple, had bumped into her sneezy neighbor countless times in the grocery and department stores. The couple celebrated their 50th anniversary with a party they hosted in their home. Many guests attended, most of whom presumably “attended church” somewhere. The sister attended, too, and sorrowfully reported that almost every guest wore perfume. Fortunately, the neighbor survived the party.

Few excuses will outdo getting sick from church. Yet, some of the excuses we give are equally flimsy, if more trite. Truly, God will judge each individual for only He knows the heart and the circumstances (cf. Rom. 8:33-34; Heb. 4:12). As that is so, how often is He snubbed and insulted by Christians who willfully intend to miss the assemblies? What does He think of the chronic excuser, who attempts to justify “skipping church” with horribly poor rationale?

True Christians truly seek the Kingdom of God first (Mat. 6:33). Spiritually living Christians hunger for each opportunity to worship God and fellowship with other Christians (cf. Psa. 95:6; Mat. 5:6; Acts 12:12; etc.). Cross-centered saints do not look for “reasons” to miss worship and Bible study with other saints! It is incongruous to think of a spiritual-minded person (cf. 1 Pet. 2:5) battling with the decision (?) of whether or not to attend. May each of us develop the yearning of David and say, “I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the Lord” (Psa. 122:1).

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attendance Uncategorized worship

What Does The “Sunday Morning Only” Christian Miss?


Neal Pollard

It is an eclectic club.  Some of its members have only ever come one service per week, whose perceivable spiritual progress has been hard to measure.  Others, perhaps more tragically, have waned from greater faithfulness in the past to the more tepid attitude toward the assemblies at which God is always present.  The Bible makes it clear that those who fail to put Christ first have put something in that place.  This is an unenviable position to be in.  Yet, these who neglect faithful attendance deprive themselves of so much.

  • They miss information.  Bible classes, sermons, table talks, and mid-week devotional talks all help increase our knowledge and strengthen our conviction in what we already know.  This information is like a flashlight for the journey in a dark, dark world (Ps. 119:105).  If we take heed to that word, we do well (2 Pet. 1:19).  To identify the enemy, you must know all about him.
  • They miss association.  The people dearest to God are there.  Christ, our Savior, friend, older brother, King, Shepherd, Door, and Mediator, is there.  The earliest Christians were stedfast in fellowship with each other, a fellowship contextually shown to be spiritual in nature (Acts 2:42).  Paul reminds us we should prefer one another, something we fail to show when we give preference to some other place and event (Rom. 12:10).
  • They miss inspiration.  We need our spirits lifted.  Others need us to lift their spirits, too (Heb. 10:24; cf. Phil. 2:3-4).  In worship we can get our spiritual batteries charged.  Coming together helps us each face the world.  We are to be renewed in the spirit of our minds (Eph. 4:23-24).  The assemblies aid us in this.
  • They miss provocation.  Often, we do things we know we should not do.  As such, we need to be provoked or stimulated to do what we already know is right (Heb. 10:24).  At the assemblies, we lift each other up and hold each other’s hands in our common life (cf. 1 Thess. 5:14).
  • They miss edification.  We have a responsibility to be here and build up other Christians.  Remember, love edifies (1 Cor. 8:1).  You cannot do that as well from a remote location.  We are to use our abilities to help perfect the saints, to work in ministry, and to build up the body of Christ (Eph. 4:12).  That’s a “done together” activity in which those withholding their presence cannot engage.
  • They miss immunization.  The world is infected with sin and it is often hard to live for Christ (cf. 1 John 5:19).  We can and do “inject” ourselves with strength at every service, an injection that will help us fight off the cancer of sin (cf. Jer. 7:18).  Attending all the services strengthens our spiritual health (Ps. 42:11).  Who thinks he or she is better equipped to fight alone than with the collective help of the church as well as the special strength available as by God’s design when we assemble together?
  • They miss jubilation.  There is nothing as seemingly miserable as the Christian who feels that it is his “duty” to come to the services (look at David–Ps. 122:1).  It is a shame that “S-M-O” Christians miss the excitement of baptisms and others who come forward for prayers, the encouragement of seeing new Christians participate in worship or young people demonstrating their faith, and the example of others whose words, actions, and attitudes make us glad we are Christians.  Few whose hearts and minds have been fully engaged in an assembly will walk away regretting it or being more depressed than when they arrived.
  • They miss obligation.  We are mutually accountable (Rom. 1:14; Heb. 3:13; Col. 3:13; etc.).  We are indebted to God (Rom. 8:12).  We are commanded by Him to come together (Heb. 10:25).  None of these obligations comes with an expiration date.  We consider those who shirk their obligations to be irresponsible.  What obligation outweighs the one laid upon us by the Lord?

The many, many principles of scripture lead to an unavoidable conclusion.  We should want to be together with Christ and His people at every opportunity.  If we do not want this enough to make it happen, maybe something is terribly wrong with our “affections” (cf. Col. 3:1-2).

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attendance church worship

In An Average Assembly, You’ll Find…

Neal Pollard

  • Brand new Christians
  • Young parents
  • The unemployed
  • Spiritual leaders
  • Those struggling with worldliness
  • Someone diagnosed with a serious condition
  • Strugglers with addiction
  • Couples with marital troubles
  • Those with loved ones no longer faithful to Christ
  • Widows/widowers
  • Someone who has been deeply hurt or betrayed
  • Those in serious financial debt
  • Those who are the only Christians in their family
  • Someone facing an enormous life change
  • Some who are experiencing great successes and good news
  • Empty nesters
  • Retirees
  • Community and business leaders
  • Those who grew up in the church
  • Expectant parents
  • Racial minorities
  • The highly educated
  • Extroverts
  • Introverts
  • The emotionally fragile
  • Singles
  • Divorcees
  • Those bearing burdening secrets
  • People brimming with optimism
  • Nurturers
  • Takers
  • Critics
  • Encouragers
  • The easily distracted
  • Those forced to attend
  • Hard working servants
  • The dutiful
  • The physically and mentally challenged
  • Daily Bible students
  • Non-Christians
  • Those who need to make serious spiritual changes
  • The lonely
  • Those without formal education
  • Smilers
  • Scowlers
  • The impatient
  • Notetakers
  • Probably 10,000 other “subcategories”

But, do you know what’s so amazing?  God knew that His single volume, the Bible, could reach into the hearts and lives of everyone of them through a single medium.  He calls it preaching (1 Cor. 1:18-25).  It worked 2000 years ago.  It works today.  What an awesome God to meet us right where we live through a message and means that fills our every longing.