I have gone to church all of my life, but there are many who often wonder why people choose to go to church.  There are many people who cannot understand going to church and so they ask the question, “why do you go to church?”  In today’s sermon I will focus on the question, “why do we go to church?”  I want to use scripture from Hebrews as my key verse, but I will also reference some other scriptures as well.

24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

Hebrews 10:24-25 NKJV

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Many of us started going to church when we were little.  I don’t know about you all, but I was one of the ones that actually enjoyed going to church.  I enjoyed the Easter egg hunts, saying my Easter speech, participating in the Christmas play, along with singing in the choir and badly wanting some of my mom’s communion bread and juice.  Church was fun for me!

The place of worship

However, there are many people who also went to church when they were young and did not enjoy it.  Whereas I would enjoy listening to the preacher preach (whenever I didn’t fall to sleep on grandma’s lap) there were many who didn’t enjoy church.  Church was boring to them where I enjoyed learning about this wonderful man named Jesus.

Many of us who remained in church all of these years later can come up with a number of reasons for why we go to church, but most often, we simply will state that we go to church to worship.  Some say, “you don’t have to go to church to worship God, you can worship Him anywhere.”  Are they right about this?  I want to take a look at this thought for a moment.  Is the church the only place where you can worship God?

In the bible, John records (John 4:1-26) a stop that Jesus made in Samaria.  Jesus, we are told, was tired (John 4:6) and so He sat down at Jacob’s well while the disciples went into the city for food (John 4:8).  While at the well, a Samaritan woman came to the well to draw some water from the well when a conversation broke about between her and Jesus.  I tell you, this conversation was a very fascinating conversation.

First, the two talked about water to which Jesus told her about this water that if she would ever drink it she would never thirst again (John 4:13-14).  Jesus then spoke to her about her husbands and told her things that she knew, but did not believe Jesus would know about her (John 4:17-18).  It was at this moment when the conversation turned towards worship.

I tell you that this part is very fascinating in that she spoke of how her fathers would go into the mountain to worship God (John 4:20).  You may ask, “why is that so fascinating?”  You must understand the history of the Samaritans to be able to understand why this is so fascinating. 

The Samaritans were of Hebrew blood but their bloodline was not pure.  You see, their history includes the ten Hebrew tribes that made up the northern kingdom.  The northern kingdom was conquered by the Assyrians around 722 BC.  Those in northern kingdom began to breed with the Assyrians and therefore the blood was mingled.  The Samaritans were essentially frowned upon by the Jews, and the Samaritan woman says as much (John 4:9).

The Samaritans would go into the mountain to worship God, but the Jews would say to them, “that’s not where you worship God.  The ‘right’ place to worship God is in Jerusalem.”  So, she asks Jesus, which place is the right place to worship God, since I perceive you’re some kind of prophet?  Jesus response is equally fascinating.

21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father.

John 4:21 NKJV

Jesus says to her, “neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem.”  The Jews wanted to always hold ownership of God but no one man can own God.  However, even in our times, there are people who feel that they can control God over others.  Is the church a place of worship?  Most certainly.  Is the church the only place where one can worship God?  Most certainly it is not.  Jesus says as much.

23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.

John 4:23 NKJV

There are many people who have made “going to church” out to be their religion.  Some go to church because it is part of their weekly routine.  Some go to church because they feel that if they go to church, they will gain something (worldly) from going to church.  So, going to church becomes religion instead of necessarily going to “worship”.  I say to you that Christianity is not simply religion – Christianity is faith!  You see, this goes misunderstood, but I tell you that Christianity is more than simply performing a routine.

There are many who will use this scripture as proof for never having to step foot into church to worship.  They will say, “see, I don’t have to go to church worship because I can worship God anywhere.”  This is actually true, in a sense I suppose.  You can certainly worship the Lord anywhere because God is everywhere.  Jesus says (Matt. 18:20) that where two or three gather in His name that He is there in the midst.  God dwells inside of all believers so even when we are alone, God is there.

So some say they can do all that they do in church in the comfort of their homes.  I certainly post sermons here on this site as well as over on YouTube and there are several other pastors with far larger followings who do the same thing.  Many people, especially in my generation, take advantage of listening to or watching services whenever they wish and wherever they wish.  However, I tell you today that you miss out on something even more important than worship when you don’t go to church service.

Warning against abandoning the church

The writer of Hebrews warns against forsaking coming together (Heb. 10:25).  Why warn against forsaking coming together?  To forsake something means to abandon. Some abandon coming to the congregation when the writer mentions the coming together leads us to exhorting one another.  You see, we believe we go to church for the sole reason of worshiping and lifting up God but you see, God does not need our lifting.

To exhort means to encourage.  God does not need our encouraging!  However, on the other hand, we most definitely need encouraging.  The writer of Hebrews said in the prior verse (Heb. 10:24) that we should provoke (stir up) each other to love and good works.  You see, we, all who genuinely believe, have to deal with living in this world.  The journey is certainly rough spiritually but it is also rough both physically and mentally.  When we are dealing with some mess or when we are down, I tell you that there is no better place for you than the church!

At church, you have a loving family of your brothers and sisters in Christ who are there to help encourage you, and provoke you to continue doing your work!  We miss this when we choose to abandon going to church.  Paul wrote (Colossians 3:16) that we should admonish each other in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.  Again, people think that we go to church just sing because it’s routine and a part of the program but we sing those songs not to lift up God (because He needs no lifting) but to lift up our spirits!

You see, going to church is not solely about worshiping the Lord.  We go to church to lift ourselves up!  This is the biggest part that many people miss out on today mostly because we live in a world where many people feel empty but satisfied.  The thing that will help fill their emptiness, they don’t believe the church can provide so they choose to stay away.  What are you looking for the church to provide?

Some will go to a church just to see what people have or to see what they are wearing.  They look at the preacher to see what he/she is wearing or to see what kind of car he/she is driving.  You see, they are looking for that blessing of great wealth.  I tell you, if you’re going or not going to church because you never got that financial blessing, you were going or stopped going for the wrong reason entirely.  Going to church never meant you were going to get such a blessing.  Becoming a Christian never meant you were going to get such a blessing.

Why do we go to church?  We do not go to church because we’re waiting for that kind of blessing.  No, we go to church because going to church brings our soul great joy!  We go to church because going to church helps to lift us up when we are down!  We go to church to learn this wonderful word that the Lord has given to us.  Yes, we may some scriptures and messages over again but many times we learn something new that helps us in that time.

There is certainly nothing wrong with worshiping God wherever you wish or worshiping alone.  However, I tell you that you miss out on the uplifting love of a brother or a sister in Christ when you choose to stay away from the church.  In a world where we see man go into synagogues and churches for the sole purpose of killing, and in a world where you can be killed for simply walking down the street – going to church, I feel, is very much needed.

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