Even though the Bible doesn’t comment specifically on where or how often that we should meet as a command, we can discern from the pattern of Scripture overall in the New Testament, that we should at least try to meet weekly (if we can) and more often if possible. But these intervals are not set in immovable stone. They depend much on each person’s personal situation, calling and work. And some of this comes down to “a lesser of two evils” kind of situation that we might find ourselves in from time to time. God has not called us to be religious but obedient in love, as love is defined by the Bible, not by people’s opinions. It would be a far greater “evil” to forsake helping someone in serious immediate need just to be at a meeting, not that missing a meeting is an inherently evil thing per se.
In the Bible, we see that church members obviously missed meetings when they were away somewhere else doing God’s work during fellowship time. Some went on long missionary and evangelistic journeys, traveling quite often. Others went on missions of mercy to deliver money to other churches that were in need. There were times that Christians simply could not be part of their local assemblies back home. And the Bible never once condemns this. But, this reasonable biblical concept is frowned on and is absolutely not allowed in most churches today.
The Attendance Legalists
While the Bible does say in Heb 10:25 that we are not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together as the manner of some is, we must understand that no emphatic commands are given as to how often or exactly where we must meet. The Lord leaves it up to us how best to facilitate fellowship. The attendance legalists love to decide and arrange these things for us and impose their personal views on attendance as the law of the land. They will pressure us and condemn us if we do no comply with their idea of desired meeting locations and proper attendance intervals. This is a very unhealthy practice yet altogether common behavior in the majority of today’s churches. Men are simply interfering with the freedoms that God has clearly given to us.
But also, any meetings that we attend must be the kind that does good, not the kind that does more harm than good. The Apostle Paul talks about meetings that do more harm than good (see 1Cor 11:17) and so it is obvious that meetings that do more harm than good are not the kind that we should even attend. The context of 1Cor 11:17 is regarding divisions in the church and the misuse of the Lord’s Supper, but of course we know that there exists many types of meetings that do more harm than good beyond these two topics.
In most churches today, the “pastor” wants you sitting squarely in the seat facing directly forward exactly when he decides that you should be there. He doesn’t care if there are homeless people on the streets that you are helping or if you are out preaching the Gospel at “service” times. If you are not there in the assembly, you are considered unfaithful to the church. In his mind you should be doing “those things” at other times, not on his time. And, since the ministries that God has given His people are so downplayed and made to appear so inferior to the big man in the pulpit, this comes as no surprise.
The Show Must Go On
Further, when Christians are made slaves and are indoctrinated into becoming a part of the crew of some Broadway stage show disguised as a church assembly, then if someone doesn’t show up, the show cannot go on as smoothly and properly as the “pastor” / producer / director / and star would like. Hence there is a tremendous amount of ungodly pressure imposed on church workers. Healthy churches do not turn their assemblies into shows. If someone wants to see a show, I would recommend that they go to a decent movie or buy tickets and go downtown to see a decent play, hopefully at a time other than assembly time.
Even when I was still indoctrinated into the false church system yeas ago, I still wondered why there was no provision or leeway given for Christians to serve God somewhere else during “services”. I often wondered why there was no approval given to Christians who were busy engaging in other important work somewhere else at the same time of a meeting, which prevented them from attending regular fellowship at our particular church. Unless they were “sent” by “the pastor” on some silly errand of his, they were considered rebellious or at the very least unfaithful, regardless of the reason for their absence.
Parents who needed time to be with their families were considered unruly for not being at every meeting. As the manipulation and pressure from the pulpit soared, and as the peer pressure mounted, many people (the smart ones) left. Of course I was still there because at the time I foolishly never questioned these things. I was just a blind follower of “the man of God” in these areas of theology. While I did study the Bible on other topics, I didn’t even think to question or dig deeper to see what the Bible really teaches on authority and church protocol. I fell into the traditions of men instead. I didn’t realize that every Christian is a man or woman of God and of no less importance than a pastor, if the guy is really a pastor at all. From what I have seen, most of them are clever businessmen in disguise.
Additionally, attendance legalists clearly make their “services” a false god. They actually worship their “worship services”, putting attendance to these meetings above all, even above God and His Word. In their minds, the service comes first (the show must go on!) and it is therefore of paramount importance. And, as far as they are concerned anything that gets in the way of the stage show and the numbers in the seats is to be annihilated. This is the world of manmade religion not Biblical Christianity.
A Famine of True Fellowship
None of this is to say that there are not times when Christians simply cannot find any true disciples of Christ to fellowship with. Many genuine Christians today have allowed themselves to become disciples of men. They do believe the Gospel unto salvation but they do not know or believe the Scriptures pertaining to day-to-day Christian living and hence they have become followers of men. This is a very common and sad situation today. But it is what it is out there.
Most Christians are too busy and preoccupied attending false churches instead of being available for true fellowship in the Lord. So there is a famine of true fellowship today in many if not most areas of the world. And, nothing that I am writing here is intended to condemn anyone for staying home because they cannot find true fellowship. Personally, if no opportunities for true fellowship were available, I would choose to stay at home and study the Scriptures spending time with the Lord one-on-one rather than meeting with a bunch of mindless disciples of men under some dictator. Such are meetings that clearly do far more harm than good. By the way, I do not consider assembling as a home church to be “staying at home”. When I say “stay at home” I am referring to those who cannot find anyone, not even family members to meet with at their own houses.
Now that I know better, if someone showed up to one of our meetings late or didn’t come at all, and they had any good or decent reason for not being there, my view is who are we to condemn them? We simply wouldn’t. If they said that they felt lead of the Lord to stay home and study the Scriptures because the Lord was showing them something important, who are we to argue or condemn them? We wouldn’t. Even if they said that they spent some time with other Christians at another assembly somewhere, then that would be fine! God does not call us to competition and possessiveness. The church of Jesus Christ has no walls.
These are the Lord’s sheep not our sheep and we are all, each and every one of us, His sheep as well. I would commend such a person for their obedience to God and remind and comfort them that they did nothing wrong in missing an assembly. It’s all about obedience to God not to men. Now of course, if a Christian continually missed meeting after meeting and was always looking for some reason not to assemble, it would be a good idea to lovingly remind them of Heb 10:25. Or, if they didn’t meet with anyone ever just out of laziness, it would be a good idea to encourage them towards fellowship. But today’s average showboat pastor uses Heb 10:25 out of context as a hammer of control to keep Christians in his seats exactly when he wants them to be there regardless of where God wants them to be at that time.
In a strange dark sense, these “pastors” are absolutely right when they say that we are being unfaithful to their church when we are out preaching the Gospel or feeding the poor, etc. during a “service”. Why? In really serving God, you are actually being unfaithful to a devilish man like the kind of “pastor” who has hijacked a church. You are actually being unfaithful to this man’s private little kingdom. But has God called us to be faithful to the private little empires of men or faithful to Him and His written Word?
You are never being unfaithful to God and His Kingdom when you obey God and not men. Sometimes these false pastors call people like me poison and say that what we teach about authority in the church is dangerous. Well, according to their darkness, they are absolutely right! Why? As far as darkness is concerned, light is poisonous and as far as error is concerned, truth is dangerous. When men form bodies unto themselves they create a body of man, which has absolutely nothing to do with the Body of Christ. These men want us to be serving their bodies. This is why they get angry when we actually serve the Body of Christ. This is very demonic. I’ve had quite enough over the years of the Body of Robb, The Body of Greg and the Body of Dan. Now my only spiritual interest is God, my family and the Body of Christ.