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?