Why Assemble With A Local Congregation?
This past week in one of my home Bible studies we discussed Acts 2. This is a chapter very familiar to members of churches of Christ. In it we find that the Holy Spirit is poured upon the Apostles, the full Gospel is preached for the first time, and 3,000 souls were added to the church. Perhaps the reason Christians have spent so much time in the chapter is because of the question asked by the crowd, “Brethren, what shall we do?” as well as Peter’s answer, “Repent and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:37-38). I believe it is important to focus on these verses, especially as we study with our friends who have not been immersed and added to the body of Christ. In my experience, however, not enough attention is given to the verses that follow. In this week’s article we will examine these verse to find the 2 major reasons why church attendance is essential for the believer.
The first major reason for assembly that I see in the text is group worship. Notice what the believers did after being baptized. “They were continually devoting themselves to the Apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (2:42). While we certainly can and should worship and study privately and even all alone there is no true substitute for doing these things together. Regular assembly is implied by the word “continually” in the text. I think it even implies this was more than just on 1 or 2 days a week. To have fellowship implies not just social connection but a working together for common goals. If you stay home when you could have the option of gathering together you are missing out, and WE are missing out too! Imagine the excitement of these early converts, we ought to be excited about worshipping with those who love God the way we do. Attendance isn’t a checklist command, but rather a life change.
The second major reason I see for joining a local congregation is community. Notice Acts 2:44-47 “And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.” These people had faith and worship in common, but the reality was now they had everything in common. This wasn’t some forced communism type idea, but rather was the natural outgrowth of love for each other. Honestly I wish everyone could understand the sense of family that I personally feel being part of this church! When we are sick we have help, when we are suffering we get encouragement, when we are joyful we have friends to share with, and when we have needs they are met quickly and without hesitation. In turn my family tries to do the same thing for others when we can. This is something that you can never experience if the extent of your fellowship is sporadic attendance. I know that there are many reasons people hesitate to open themselves up to this type of sharing. Sometimes people are very private, other times they have been hurt in the past, and some people are just plain introverted. The truth remains you can’t be a Christian for very long all by yourself; God’s plan was that if possible we join ourselves to a local church and share in the group worship and the community responsibilities.