Forsaking the Assembly

No discussion on church attendance is complete without a reference to this verse…

And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some; but exhorting one another and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. Heb 10:24-25 (KJV)

I quoted the KJV because its the one that was most oft quoted to me. I remember many a preacher using the phrase “forsaking the assembly” to describe those wayward brothers and sisters who refused to return on Sunday evenings or Wednesday nights. Of course I don’t think the writer of Hebrews had mid-week services in mind when he penned those words, but he was encouraging Christians to meet together. At least in some form. The NIV translates it as “let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing.”

Meeting together is important to the Christian faith. When we come together we have the opportunity to encourage each other, support each other, learn from each other, bear each other’s burdens, etc. So when believers stop meeting with other believers we do need to encourage them to return. But how should we go about it? What should we say? And at one point should we realize that we’ve done all we can?

Or if you want to take the conversation in another direction, how does our Westernized view of church impact all of this? If I was part of a house church of 15-20 people I think I would find it easier to call on those who missed. That’s because the group is smaller and closer. When someone misses, it’s obvious. Plus, there’s probably a deeper relationship there so its easier to talk with them and see what’s going on. But how does it work in a church of 100 people or 1,000 people or 10,000 people?

16 thoughts on “Forsaking the Assembly

  1. Heb 10:23-25 (NASB)”Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.””So when believers stop meeting with other believers we do need to encourage them to return.”It depends on what the “some” were doing? Could the author be speaking about what we would call “two congregations”? Could some of the Hebrew Christians be meeting separately from the Gentile Christians? Romans hints of the divide, could there be some calling for a “split”?And what “day” is the Author talking about? Sunday (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunday)(first mentioned by Justin Martyr (150AD), and it which wasn’t “offical” until March 7, 321AD), Judgement (which hasn’t happened yet), or something else?As for your question “But how should we go about it?” the Author says to be preemptive about it “stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together”. Once they leave (leave not miss) then we treat them like anyone else, with love, respect, eating and drinking when them, showing them the love of the Father, etc.”how does our Westernized view of church impact all of this”Large Western congregations have many “problems” along these lines: stage/pulpit, pews, cracker trays/multi cup Communion, attendance cards, etc. It’s something that comes with large congregations; like a small group “program” that forces Christian friendships. Best “small group” I was ever in was with people I was already friends with.

  2. I think it all goes back getting plugged into a small group of 10-15 people. I attend a larger church for my area, about 800 regular attendees (1,500-2,000 “members”). However, I am plugged into a small group of people who I turn to for support, encouragement and fellowship. I enjoy the “big church” atmosphere, but get the intimacy of “small church” with my small group. Like you referenced with your small house church group, if I am struggling, my small group knows b/c it is personal and obvious. If one of them calls, I don’t take offense b/c I know they truly care. So, my short response is, “Get people involved.” Whether that be serving in some area, or participating in a small group study outside of Sunday mornings. Therefore, the harder question becomes, “How do you plug people into meaningful groups?” Something our church has been asking for a while. But that’s another post…

  3. I went to a church recently for several weeks and had people talk to me, but never invite me to a small group. It was, evidently, my job to seek out a small group and I supposedly had to “join” the congregation before I was ever going to even be invited. So, guess what, I never got “plugged in” to this congregation. I never felt very welcome nor did I feel the urge to go back.It seems that at this church, they weren’t so worried about where I decided to attend or if I chose to pick their church to “join”. But this was a little offensive to me. I can see what Ben means in that they “knew” I was a Christian and it didn’t matter where I attended (it was my choice), but it made a real impact on me that it was impersonal. It can go both ways. It also depends on the personality of the “attender”. Are they a “people” person? Is their spirituality more personal and private to them (meditative)? Different people need different things. I think our job is to get to know the person, and then decide the best way to approach situations such as this.Steph

  4. The audience was Jewish converts who were having to make the decision to remain faithful to Jesus or return to the Jewish faith. This would have been a major social and religious decision for them. They needed each other’s encouragement, love, support, and help to remain faithful to Jesus.Living for Jesus is very hard for me. I constantly struggle because the world I live in and my own desires are pulling me to live for myself. I don’t live close to any family so my daily relationships are church people and co-workers. I have quit church on occasions and my faith is not strong enough to maintain a relationship with God when I am not with other believers encouraging me to practice spiritual disciplines and to be faithful to Jesus.When I have quit I didn’t need a sermon I need someone to listen to me and tell me how much they love and miss me. I didn’t need the sarcastic comments of “hi may name is and you are?” That just made me want to leave.I have never attended anywhere with a small group so I don’t know about that. I mainly know the people in my section of the auditorium and in my bible class. We get together and do things often. They are usually the ones who are my spiritual support and I try to be for them as well. I think we all need accountability but it can’t be on your terms of what you think I should be but on you helping me become what I need to be based on the areas the Holy Spirit is leading me to grow.

  5. Hello, I am Ben Diles, the teacher at C.A. I haven’t been reading or writing on this blog, but when I was asked for the third time whether I had made comments concerning some of the fairly recent issues, I thought I’d take a look. I found the blog note with 338 comments and accurately assumed that this was the sore spot. I know many of you have assumed some things about me and while I do have some fairly strong opinions on these issues, silence seems best. The only reason I write now is to make a few points.1. All matters of eternal judgment are God’s and his alone. I would never make a statement that would indicate that my judgment on a less than explicit biblical teaching was the equivalent of the Almighty’s.2. I have not written before this posting on this blog or any other internet site about any issues involving Maury Hills or C.A. 3. It is my belief that someone used the name Benjamin D. in an attempt to portray their opinion as mine. This may not be the case, but the fact that my name was cited warrants this response. To call people out and condemn them to hell without the courage to stand behind your own name is certainly not compatible with any teaching of Christ that I know. My beliefs may differ from some of you who read this, but you can be sure that I would stand behind them and not resort to the internet to make inflammatory statements.4. Finally, if anyone has felt personally slighted by me, then please contact me personally. My email is diles38401@yahoo.com.5. I am imperfect and striving to follow the teachings of Christ in my relationships, my daily walk, my worship, my family, my work, and my church. In spite of this, I fail frequently and I trust that God’s grace is sufficient for even those like me.In the name or Our Lord, Jesus,Ben Diles

  6. Hey, Coach Diles. I appreciate your comments. I’m glad that it was not you who left those comments earlier. I never thought that, but I’m glad that you clarified that for us.By the way, I had your cousin, Allen, for a class this past semester. He’s a great teacher. I guess it runs in the family.

  7. As for the verse in question, looking back on the Greek, it seems as if this verse (10:25a) could possibly be translated differently.”…not neglecting the assembling of themselves, just as [it is] a custom/practice for certain ones…”What’s a custom for certain ones? Neglecting the assembling of themselves. It appears to me that the Hebrew author was possibly talking to an entire church, exhorting them to keep meeting as a group of believers. Because some [churches or assemblies] had stopped assembling themselves. And what do you call an assembly that neglects the assembling? You get a whole lot of nothing.As far as the discussion concerning individual church members? I would look more toward the verses concerning the church as the body of Christ. Each individual in the church plays an important role, just as each individual cell plays an important role to the function of our bodies. If a church member leaves, it’s like having a cell (or group of cells, or tissue, or organ, or limb) that completely shuts down.I believe we may need to do a better job of getting people plugged in to the position where they can use their talents. If someone feels needed, they are more likely to stay. After all, we are told to do whatever we do to the glory of God. Give people opportunities to use their talents, especially if they enjoy doing what they are good at doing. Find a way.

  8. Let me start out by apologizing for the confusion that was caused by my name, I never intended my name to be interpreted as Ben Diles.Mr. Diles,You are right that all matters of eternal judgment are Gods, I never “[made] a statement that would indicate that my judgment on a less than explicit biblical teaching was the equivalent of the Almighty’s”. What I did do was use scripture to “teach, reprove, and correct” (2 Tim 3:16), this can be seen in my comments (I would repost them here, but for size sake you can read them for yourselves in context in the older posts).Also, I never “call[ed] people out and condemn[ed] them to hell” period, God speaks through the scriptures which I relentlessly used. Also, the internet is one of the world’s fastest growing mediums, and with millions of people logging on ever day. If the word of God is not defended here (the internet), then millions will never know the truth. I never came here to stir up trouble, I came here to defend the gospel and stand behind my faith (something that I wish more people at C.A. and other churches in the area would do).Coach Diles, I too am “imperfect and striving to follow the teachings of Christ in my relationships, my daily walk, my worship, my family, my work, and my church.” I debated with myself whether to post this or not and decided that I needed to defend myself. I have at times become frustrated with MH, so I have reread my posts to see if I was malicious in any form. I cannot find where I ever attacked (except maybe with scripture, if you want to call that “attacking”) or made fun of them. I encourage you (Coach Diles) and anyone else who cares, to read my posts again, look at the context and look at scripture used.I’d like to end with 2 Timothy 3, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, 7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. 9 But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was. 10 But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, 11 Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. 12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. 14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; 15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”Benjamin D.

  9. Benjamin D – not Ben Diles,This is why anonymous posters just confuse everything! Get a blogger account, or is that a sin??As for the frustrations with MH, I’ll say this once again and pray that it is heard this time:I am not MH, the Anderson’s are not MH, Ben Williams is not MH, Shump is not MH, and the Beaver Bunch is not MH, as well as others I’ve forgotten at the moment. The people you have been talking to the most are NOT MH! If you are frustrated with MH, use advice from the book you claim to understand oh so well. Go to them privately! Then, if they see their error, that will reflect on the internet. If you feel it is your mission to share the truth on the internet, then why single out MH? There’s a lot of false teaching out there, but maybe you have a personal agenda with MH.

  10. Having read some of the comments over the past few days, I must say the hypocrisy of some Church of Christ members in this community is appalling. I am not a member of any organized religious group, but have attended several Churches of Christ in this community over the past several years. I’ve heard many sermons preached on “false doctrine” and how those who preach it are leading people astray and ultimately to hell. I recall a few years ago, a local Church of Christ sold its building to another church (not a church of Christ) one that they would obviously consider a church that teaches “false doctrine.” I’ve often wondered, how can a church condemn those “teachers of false doctrine” and yet (for a price), provide them with a nice building to spread their “false doctrine,” thereby leading others to hell ? Legally, they most certainly did not have to sell the building to this group. For some it appears, convictions vacillate when money is involved.Furthermore, when the State of Tennessee was considering authorizing the state lottery, I heard many sermons from local Church of Christ pulpits on how a state lottery would be “nothing short of gambling and the work of Satan himself.” One local “preacher/teacher” even wrote an article that was published in The Daily Herald on how the lottery was against God’s teachings. Now that the lottery provides college scholarships to every qualifying student, those Churches of Christ have grown conveniently silent on the matter. In fact, our local christian school encourages and assists its students to qualify for those lottery sholarships. Why was it “nothing short of gambling and the work of Satan himself” a few years ago and now perfectly acceptable to partake in the fruits (lottery scholarships) of “Satan’s work?” Unfortunately, I can give you thousands of reasons and they’re all green.

  11. I think everyone here- whether of the MH or CoC persuasion- can agree that the church needs more engaged intellectuals, churchgoers with a capacity for critical thought.Herein lies the greatest benefit of college: it’s ability to force one to cut arguments open and analyze them.While the church is willing to take a stand against what has been scripturally denounced, but also has a long history of destroying lives and creating economies of vice, it seems foolish not to draw an education from a system that is firmly entrenched in the state economy.Or, for a simpler metaphor, consider hot dogs. One can savor the taste of a hot dog, no matter how unsavory one may find the initial animal parts of which it is composed 🙂

    • I know this is an old post, I agree with the need for more engaged intellectuals. However, if no one is going to listen to them, then they are wasting their time. Cutting arguments open and analyzing them has been branded a heretical act by many hard-liners. This is out of fear of change. Also, few want to listen to someone who perhaps is of the wrong gender, marital status, fertility status, etc. Thus, the summation is that many people in a church do not have a voice much less a seat at the table.This gets back to cofC governance by elders and deacons or elders and committes.

      Jay Guin on his blog recently had an excellent series on elders, deacons, and church governance.

  12. @gamalielYou don’t need a college degree to understand Christanity, theology or history. Just read. The secret of most most colleges is they make you pay them for testing you on how well you remember what you read. Just read. Start here “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christanity” and click on the blue words you don’t understand.

  13. Gamaliel,I too agree that every student should take full advantage of lottery scholorships. However; one (professing to be a christian) can not have it both ways. If they think the lottery is sinful and againt God’s teachings, then no matter how “foolish” it may seem, they should not accept the economic benefit (“ill gotton gain” as I heard my grandparents say) from that which they have condemned and deemed to be contrary to God’s will, irrespective of its entrenchment in the state economy. The governments involvment certainly doesn’t remove the “sinfulness” (as they believe) of the activity and the revenues generated as a result. If a person thinks drinking alcohol is a sin, and even though he/she may not drink,(buy lottery tickets)they probably shouldn’t own a liquor store and accept money derived from its “sinful” activity even if it is authorized/licensed by the state. P.S. I agree with you a college education is very important and I have no problem with lottery scholarships (just some christians.)

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