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Following Jesus -- Course A

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Attending Church Meetings - Part 1
Following Jesus -- Course A, Lesson #6


Introduction:

The purpose of this study is to consider Bible teaching regarding the Christian's responsibility to attend gatherings of the local church.

Faithful New Testament churches have always arranged various meetings so members could study God's word and worship Him. Some of these meetings are on the first day of the week; others are not. How important it is for members to attend these meetings?

Everyone has times when they may be sick or have other genuine reasons for missing (2 Cor. 8:12), but how important is it to arrange our schedules to come? Should we habitually come every time the church meets, or may we habitually miss? Should we let minor excuses keep us away, or should we make serious sacrifices to overcome those excuses?


I. Teaching and Learning


Teaching and study of God's word are primary purposes of church meetings, so consider what the Bible says about them.

A. Jesus Set the Example of Teaching in Meetings.

We should follow Jesus' example (1 Peter 2:21,22; Phil. 2:3-5). What was His practice regarding attending meetings for teaching and study?

>>> Please read Luke 4:16. <<<

*1* How diligently did Jesus attend weekly synagogue meetings? Answer: The verse says it was Jesus' ______ to go to the synagogue meetings.

Think: If there was a total of 3-4 hours of meetings in the synagogue, would Jesus have customarily attended just part of this, or would He attend as much teaching and study as He could?

(Matt. 9:35; 13:54; Mark 1:21; 6:2; Luke 13:10; John 18:20)

>>> Please read Matthew 15:32; Mark 10:1. <<<

*2* How long did Jesus keep the multitude with Him? Answer: The multitudes stayed with Jesus for (give a number) ______ days.

Think: If Jesus was a member of a church today that had several meetings weekly, how many of them would He attend? (Matt. 13:1-3.)

B. Christians Should Desire to Study and Learn.

>>> Please read Psalm 1:1,2. <<<

*3* How often does the godly man meditate on God's law? (a) once a week, (b) it does not matter, (c) day and night, (d) each Sunday morning. Answer: ______.

>>> Please read Matthew 5:6. <<<

*4&5* Who will be filled with righteousness? Answer: Those who ______ and ______ for righteousness will be filled.

>>> Please read Acts 17:11. <<<

*6* How regularly did the Bereans study? Answer: They searched the Scriptures ______.

Think: Besides our private Bible study, we have many study opportunities arranged by the church. Would a person described in the above verses neglect such opportunities, or would he always want to come?

(Prov. 2:1-12; Psalm 119:10-16,33-35,47,48,97-105; 1 Peter 2:2; 2 Peter 1:5-11; Phil. 4:8; Josh. 1:8; Col. 1:9,10,28; Deut. 6:6-9; Hosea 4:6)

C. Christians Should Learn to Teach Others.

>>> Please read Hebrews 5:12-14. <<<

*7* Why couldn't these Christians teach others as they ought to do? Answer: They needed someone to ______ them the first principles.

>>> Please read 2 Timothy 2:2. <<<

*8* Faithful men need to be taught so they can do what? (a) teach others also, (b) join the church synod, (c) obtain a seminary degree, (d) receive a certificate to display on the wall. Answer: ______.

Think: If we appreciate the value of teaching, wouldn't we want to attend every opportunity the church gives us?

We should teach and study outside the assemblies as well as in them. But how many people do you know who regularly miss church meetings, yet are diligently studying the Bible and teaching others?

(Rom. 15:14; 14:19; 12:5-8; Acts 11:26; Eph. 4:11-16,29; 5:19; Heb. 3:12-14; 10:24,25; 1 Thess. 4:18; 5:11,14; Col. 3:16; 1 Tim. 3:15)


II. Praise to God


A. Some Scriptural Acts of Praise Are Limited to the First Day of the Week. Others Are Not.

>>> Please read Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:1,2. <<<

*9* When should the church have the Lord's supper and collection? Answer: We have them on the ______ day of the week.

>>> Please read Colossians 3:16; Ephesians 5:19. <<<

*10* When should we teach one another in song? (a) just on Sunday, (b) just on Wednesday, (c) at Christmas, (d) we can do this any day. Answer: ______.

>>> Please read Acts 4:23,24,31; 1 Thessalonians 5:17. <<<

*11* May the church meet for prayer on days other than Sunday? Answer (Yes or no): ______.

B. Christians Should Desire and Appreciate Opportunities to Praise God.

After studying each passage below, ask yourself the following "Thought question": If a person has the godly attitude described in this passage, what will he do when the church provides opportunities for him to meet with other Christians to praise God?

>>> Please read Luke 24:52,53; Acts 2:42. <<<

*12* How regularly did the early disciples participate in worship? (a) rarely, (b) occasionally, (c) continually and steadfastly. Answer: ______.

>>> Please read Hebrews 13:15. <<<

*13* What sacrifice does God ask us to offer? Answer: We should continually offer the sacrifice of ______ to God, the fruit of our lips.

Think: Jesus gave His life as a sacrifice for us (Heb. 9:23-28). If we appreciate His sacrifice, how consistent should we be in praising God?

>>> Please read Psalm 95:1-3; 122:1. <<<

*14* If one appreciates God, how will he feel about praising Him? (a) sad, (b) glad, (c) indifferent, (d) uncertain, (e) all the preceding. Answer: ______.

>>> Please read Revelation 19:1,4-6. <<<

*15* What do all God's servants do in heaven? Answer: All God's servants in heaven should ______ Him.

Think: If people don't want to worship, would they enjoy heaven?

(Remember to ask the "thought question" about these verses.)

Note: These verses do not limit praise to any particular day or number of meetings per week. When the church arranges such meetings, would a true Christian want to come? If he could come but consistently does not, does he have the attitudes described above?

(Rom. 1:21; John 4:23,24; 1 Peter 2:5,9,10; 1 Chron. 29:10-13)


III. Unity


Biblical unity requires, not just doctrinal agreement, but also oneness of spirit, attitude, goal, and purpose. Unity (or division) in a congregation often expresses itself in the worship assemblies.

A. Passages that Urge Oneness

>>> Please read Acts 1:14; 4:24,32; 5:11,12. <<<

*16* How is the unity of the early church described? (a) one accord, one heart, and one soul, (b) strife and enmity, (c) conflict and fighting. Answer: ______.

Note that unity showed in their worship. (Acts 2:1,46; 15:22,25)

>>> Please read Philippians 1:27; 2:1-4. <<<

*17* What phrases express the unity a church should have? (a) one spirit, (b) like-minded or same mind, (c) same love, (d) one purpose or one accord, (e) all the preceding. Answers: ______.

>>> Please read Romans 15:5,6. <<<

*18* What do like-minded brethren do? Answer: With one mind and one mouth we should ______ God.

Think: If people habitually do not come when other Christians meet, do they have "one heart and one soul" with their brethren? Do they share the attitude of these early Christians?

(John 17:20,21; 1 Peter 3:8; Eph. 4:2,3; Phil. 3:15,16; 2 Cor. 13:11; 4:13; Rom. 14:19; 12:16)

B. Passages that Rebuke Division

>>> Please read Mark 3:24,25. <<<

*19* What happens if a kingdom or house is divided against itself? Answer: A divided kingdom or house cannot ______.

>>> Please read 1 Corinthians 1:10; 12:25. <<<

*20* What condition should not exist in a church? (a) peace, (b) love, (c) division, (d) all the preceding. Answer: ______.

Think: As in Corinth, the assemblies of a local church typically reflect whether or not there is unity (see also 1 Cor. chap. 11 & 14). When some could attend but make little effort, do we have unity or division?


IV. Cooperation and Fellowship in Service


The spirit of unity in a church should manifest itself in members' working together, sharing the work load, serving one another.

A. Members Should Desire to Share in the Work

Christians were steadfast in worship, which included "fellowship" (Acts 2:42). Fellowship means sharing or joint participation. Members of a congregation should cooperate in the work, including meetings.

>>> Please read Acts 4:23,24. <<<

*21* With what people did the apostles meet and pray? Answer: They went to their own ______.

Note that they recognized the group as "their own." This sense of belonging expressed itself in meeting and working together.

>>> Please read Acts 9:26-29. <<<

*22* What did Saul do at Jerusalem? (a) he tried to join the disciples, (b) he met with them (c) he taught the word, (d) all the preceding. Answer: ______.

Note the pattern: Christians need to join the disciples (v26), be with the disciples (v28), then work with the disciples (v29).

>>> Please read Ephesians 4:16. <<<

*23* How many members should work to edify the body? Answer: So the body can grow, ______ part(s) should work.

Each Christian should be "part" of the body, then they should "work," doing their "share" so the body can grow. When some parts do not do their share, the whole body suffers.

B. Members Should Desire to Serve One Another.

>>> Please read Galatians 5:13; 6:2. <<<

*24* What should we do for one another? (a) serve and bear one another's burdens, (b) fuss and fight, (c) leave the work for others. Answer: ______.

>>> Please read 1 Peter 4:10. <<<

*25* How should we minister to one another? Answer: We should serve (minister) acting as good stewards of God's manifold ______.

Think: If a member is not using his abilities to serve other Christians, is he being a good steward?

>>> Please read Ephesians 4:12. <<<

*26* What work should the church accomplish? Answer: We should equip (perfect or prepare) saints for the work of ______.

Summary: The church exists so members can serve and build one another up. All members should be active in this work. This work is not limited to any particular day of the week or number of assemblies.

C. Applications to Attendance

Assemblies are among the main opportunities the church provides for members to share (participate) in the work.

Think: What works have we already studied that members can participate in when they attend the meetings? List some ways the announcements help us know the needs of other members and know what the church is doing so we can serve and be involved in the work.

If members want to share in the work, should they neglect the assemblies or should they attend regularly?

People who neglect attendance often "do not feel part of the group."

No matter how friendly a congregation may be, some members will complain, "We just don't feel part of things. We don't have a sense of belonging." People who say this usually do not attend church meetings regularly; when asked to participate in the work, they often decline.

Think: If an employee attends only 1/2 to 1/4 of the scheduled times for work, will he feel part of the group? If a student attends only once every 3 or 4 classes, will he feel part of the class?

Review Acts 9:26-29. What did Saul do to be "part of the group"? What should members today do so they can feel part of the group?


V. Proper Example and Influence


Christians should teach and edify others, but we teach by what we do as well as by what we say.

A. Passages about Example and Influence

>>> Please read Matthew 5:13-16. <<<

*27* Seeing our good works should lead others to do what? Answer: Our good works should lead others to ______ the Father.

>>> Please read 1 Timothy 4:12. <<<

*28* What should we do for other believers? (a) hinder their obedience, (b) set a good example, (c) tempt them to sin (d) all the preceding. Answer: ______.

Think: Would this include setting a good example regarding attendance?

>>> Please read Matthew 18:6,7. <<<

*29* What is our condition if we cause a believer to sin? (a) God is pleased, (b) we are strong Christians, (c) we would be better off drowned. Answer: ______.

Think: Suppose our example leads people to conclude that attendance is not very important, so they are lost for lack of instruction. What is our condition before God?

(Titus 2:7,8; 1 Peter 2:11,12; 3:15,16; Phil. 2:15,16)

B. People Who May Be Influenced by Our Example

Consider some specific people who may be affected by our example. All these are people who need to attend church meetings. Does our example encourage them to attend or discourage them?

People who are not Christians

Think: Should we teach people in the world to live for God? Suppose a friend of yours comes to a Sunday night or midweek meeting, and you habitually are not there. Will your example help or hinder efforts to convert them? (2 Cor. 6:3)

New converts

Think: Do new converts need frequent instruction and encouragement? Would you advise them not to come regularly? What does your example tell them to do? If as a result of your influence they are lost eternally because they do not receive the instruction they need, how will you feel at the judgment?

Children

>>> Please read Ephesians 6:4. <<<

*30&31* What responsibility do parents have in training their children? Answer: Bring them up in the ______ and ______ of the Lord.

Think: Are children influenced just by our instruction or also by our conduct? (2 Tim. 1:5; Ezek. 16:44; Neh. 13:23,24).

Many parents neglect attendance when their children are young, so their children grow to be unfaithful. Later the parents come regularly, but it is too late to save their children. What a tragedy!

Think: Christians should live so other people can imitate us and have the hope of eternal life. Suppose everyone in the church were to imitate your example. What would happen to our Bible classes, Sunday evening meetings, and Gospel meetings? Would everyone be there, or would no one be there?

Personal application questions:

(These questions are for you to ponder. Your answers will help us understand your thinking, however they will not affect your "score.")

*32* Describe how important you consider teaching and learning of God's word to be: _____________.

*33* Describe how important you consider worshipping to God to be: ____________.

*34* When the local church assembles for worship, if members could come but neglect to do so, do you believe they are cooperating with the work of the church and setting a good example? ____________

When you have carefully studied this lesson and written down answers to all the questions, click on this link to submit your answers.

(C) Copyright David E. Pratte, 1999 (click for copyright information)

Topics for further Bible study

The Importance of Bible Knowledge
Importance of Attending Church Meetings
Giving to Finance Church Work
Attendance, Unity, Fellowship, & Service
Power of Prayer
The Proper Day for the Lord's Supper

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Scripture quotations are generally from the New King James Version (NKJV), copyright 1982, 1988 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. used by permission. All rights reserved.

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