The Voice of the Empty Pew

[531 words]

Each day when I leave my home, I don’t get too far down the road before I start missing my wife and children. As we age, we all are going our separate ways, but each time I leave my family, I can’t wait to see them again! Upon departure, I anxiously want to see their faces and hear their voices because of the love we have for one another and the support we enjoy. I transfer these feelings to the church and when we are in each other’s presence for worship, class, or work we are doing together. When Sundays are over, I’m ready to see everyone again. When Wednesday is complete, I can finish the week strong because of feeding on God’s Word and the comfort I have in knowing I have brothers and sisters in Christ that I can lean on because of our fellowship.

“Church attendance” is one of those topics that can stir emotion and create challenging conversations. The good news is, scripture has much to say about the “assembling of the saints.” When this topic comes up, we as Bible students turn to Hebrews 10:24-25. This text says, “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.”

Wayne Jackson in his article “Is Church Attendance Required?” reminds us of the motivation of the book of Hebrews. Brother Jackson says, “This inspired document was a warning to Jewish Christians. Some of these saints were being encouraged by Hebrew false teachers to abandon Christianity and revert to Judaism. The sacred writer thus seeks to inoculate against this danger. The disciples were cautioned against drifting from the truth (Heb. 2:1) and developing ‘an evil heart of unbelief in falling away from the living God’ (Heb. 3:12). They were admonished to throw off their ‘dullness of hearing’ (Heb. 5:11) and to hold on to their boldness and patience to the very end (Heb. 10:35-36).”

The point is this: When we talk about the importance of “attending,” and we point to Hebrews 10:24-25, we must understand what we are to “take away” from the Scripture and why it is so important for us stay “plugged in.” If we slowly develop the mindset that we do not have to attend worship services or even engage in Bible classes or participate in the works of the church, we are not only displeasing God, but we are in danger—in danger of drifting away from God which eventually leads to disconnect, and developing a dullness of hearing which equates a refusal to have a right relationship with Jesus.

When I desire to be in my family’s presence, my motivation is not because “I have to,” but because “I want to.” We must seek every opportunity to worship, study, and fellowship with God and each other. The Day is approaching. May we seek to be committed to Christ and the church. When someone looks at our pew, what message will they hear?

Allen Jones
South Green Street church of Christ
Glasgow, KY

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