Very often we hear a friend say something like, “I’m not into organized religion,” or “I don’t think going to church is necessary,” or “I have my own way of doing church.” And you know how you feel all of a sudden, right. “Boy, that sounds odd.” “That’s not what I think.” “That’s not what I was always taught.” Or maybe, “Hmm, maybe they’re right. Maybe we don’t need church.” “Does the Bible even say anything at all like, ‘Thou shalt not ever miss church?’”

Many in our present culture downplay the importance of the church and church membership. Some even say that “church membership” and commitment and expectations at church are all unbiblical ideas. Is that right? And is that good for people?

A college friend of mine, Patrick Beard, posted something very insightful about this today. As a hospital chaplain he observed a family having a huge moment of truth realizing the error of downplaying church. Thank you, Patrick for giving good direction on this. Here’s part of his post (see the rest here):

Working as a chaplain at the hospital I attended to a family that had just lost their matriarch. As I entered the room I asked a family member where the woman had worshiped and if there was a pastor I could call. The answer was, “No, Mama believed in doing church at home. There is no one to call.” In other words they had no church. What they wound up with was a chaplain who came in and said an impersonal prayer over their dead mother before moving on to the next grieving family. They were left to the undertaker to make arrangements and to themselves for comfort. THAT, I concluded, IS WHY WE NEED THE CHURCH.

Wow! What a sad moment of truth for that family. I hope they are now finding their way into the loving care of a local church where they live. And what a loving way for Patrick to guide everyone away from the attitude of downplaying the church. Thank you, Patrick!

There are many blessings we need that only the church provides: a group of believers surrounding us with reminders that God loves us, voices willing to tell us they will help us when we need help or that we are wrong when we are wrong, voices telling us they forgive us when we need forgiveness, merciful souls willing to just sit and cry with us when there are no words that will suffice. Please do not deprive yourself and your family of these huge blessings God wants everyone to have!

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25