Fomenting attendence, integration, and participation

Getting People to Faithfully
Come, Integrate, and Participate.

Why go to Church or Attend Church, Why Congregate.

by Missionary David R. Cox

What most people do not understand is the importance of sticking with the plan that God has devised for us, the local church. We cannot break with that plan to do some other plan of our own devising without totally going off into sin (removing God and His blessing from our work). God has a great genius that He uses to put design into His plans and commands that most normal people cannot even begin to grasp. At this point, we need to explain the importance of the local church. Please jump over to the following study and examine it before going on.

Refusal of Accepting God’s Pattern of the Local Church as the Method of God.

Let’s be frank about this. You cannot do much of anything with people if they do not:

(1) Come to church.
(2) Participate in the church.
(3) Support the church (read this, to serve and give).

We go back to one of our fundamental principles of church planting, the Pastor is the one in charge of fixing anything that goes wrong. So how? By preaching we change people. That is the only way that really works and works on a permanent life long basis. But if the auditorium where the preacher preaches is empty, it is of little use to preach to empty pews. (While somebody is there, at least something is happening in some people’s lives.)

So part of our job as church planters is to convince with logic and Scripture the people we have contact with so that these biblical principles we carry will change their lives. We start with why a Christian should congregate.

As the person who governs or administrates the church, you must deal with what is wrong in the church and in the individual lives of your people and fix it biblically speaking. As a pastor you must know like the back of your hand the arguments for why people should come to church and participate, and you should have your counter arguments down pat against why people don’t come (their excuses), and you should be constantly developing more in this area as time goes on. We are trying to “sell” the concepts of God to our people. This is where we insert these concepts into our people through sermons, through indirect treatments in different settings, and through items in the bulletins, in the announcements, and in any channel that we can get them across. At times the only way to do this is to go to a person’s house and sit down face to face and deal with them about these things. Although this is not “easy” by any means, many times it is a final last resort. They simply won’t come under your influence any other way, and this is how you must do it.

Every pastor should both know very well the arguments and his counter arguments in this area to deal with verbally in a one on one setting (counseling), and he should have literature prepared and ready for these kinds of situations. Here in Mexico I have a sermon on why we should attend church as well as a small book so that I can give them away in a less offensive move than sitting down face to face (which I use as a last resort).

Note that this gathering of the sheep is one of the basic duties of a pastor, sheep gathering and conversing.

Let’s start here by examining first of all why people come to church, and why they don’t. They we will go to why people participate and why they don’t.

A. Why people come to church

When we deal with church attendance as a person in charge of church oversight, we need to understand that we are not passive in this matter. The problems that drive people away from church and God in general are at our hands, and we cause these problems, we can prevent them, we can fix them, we can avoid them, and we can make them go away, because that is the ministry of oversight.

We start off by getting a good understanding why people come to church. There are right reasons and there are wrong reasons. On a superficial level, it does not matter why your people have come to church, because without their presence there, you can do very little for them short of moving the teaching and exhorting ministry of church out of church and into home Bible studies. This is possible, but it is not recommended nor our goal.

Issues-14 A Primer on Home Bible Studies

The Wrong Reasons for Coming to Church

Over the years I have heard a lot of things as a minister. These would be the reasons that I hear or discern that people come to church which are misguided or improper. I am trying to put forth these ideas as clearly and boiled down as I can, and most of the time these reasons are “cleaner” or rephrased so that they do not sound so harsh, but nonetheless it is the same issue.

(1) Because somebody makes me go to church.
(2) Because I want to find a Christian mate.
(3) Because I want the economic benefits the church offers me.
(4) Because I want to be entertained.
(5) Because I want status, prestige, and power.
(6) Because I want to be saved.
(7) Because I want to be religious.
(8) Because I want my husband/wife/children/parents to turn out right.
(9) Because I was brought up in church and its my custom or habit.

(1) Because somebody makes me go to church – This reason is because someone is forcing the person directly or indirectly against him will. After all is said and done, a person has to want to go to heaven and be saved. There are some people that after considering what it will cost them, they prefer not to pay the price. Christ directed teaching towards making people come to grips with the high cost of following Christ, and that a person should consider this high cost and enter in full conscience of what it will cost him, possibly everything including his family, his welfare, and even his life.

Useful Preaching Texts

a. Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Christ – Mat. 16:24; Mat 26:35; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23; 2 Tim 2:12; Titus 1:16.

b. Gain the world but lose your own soul – Mat 10:39; Mat. 16:25-26; Mark 8:36; Luke 9:24-25; John 12:25; 2 John 1:8.

(2) Because I want to find a Christian mate (or I want to find somebody, anybody will do, and the quality is better in a church College and Career than a bar) – Although this is a valid element of our church community, it should not be the priority in the life of a single Christian, and even less should it be the basis for deciding where or how often a person attends church. The person controlled by this worry typically goes church hopping to check out the available singles in all the churches in their area.

Useful Preaching Texts and Tactics

a. Wait on the Lord – Ps. 27:14; 37:4, 7,9,34; 130:5;

b. Deal with singleness as a gift and ministry – 1 Corinthians 7. First understand that God’s plan or norm is normally that every man and woman marry one time and settle down with that person until death do they part. All of the sexual, social, and spiritual needs that a person needs in companionship should be fulfilled in that relationship with their spouse. But God gives different gifts to different people at times (7:7), and there is a great spiritual benefit in singleness. Those that God wants to stay single is for undistracted ministry in God’s vineyard (7:25-35). Even so if a person is dedicated to ministry and serving God with singleness of heart (and singleness in their social life), if they meet somebody, it is not sin to marry (7:36-38).

c. God waits on you to prepare yourself socially and spiritually – God’s timing sometimes depends on you not being socially or spiritually prepared. Here read this because of our immaturity, God keeps our mate from crossing our path. Spiritually many people are likewise not ready to handle the responsibilities of married life, and the surprise that a child brings into it.

(3) Because I want the economic benefits the church offers me – This is the typical rice Christian approach to church growth. Many churches take the position that as long as they are in the door, for whatever reason they came we don’t care, we just want to count heads. As such they typically offer economic benefits in coming to their church. If they are children, then it is candy, toys, and other such things. If they are adults, then it is kitchen pantry items, or some other economic benefit.

Here we need to understand that very simply, people come with one or the other mental attitudes. Some come to get economic benefit, and they never put in the offering plate anything near what they take home economically. Those who come without consideration of economic benefit usually support the work of God.

Here we also need to understand that this type of church is flawed in its concept of the ministry, because the pastor at the head of this seeks power, influence, fame, and personal economic benefits. By using this tactic he promotes his own church to good Christians so they will give to support his ego trip. According to various passages such 1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7; 1 Peter 5:2, such a minister is disqualified from the ministry in any aspect.

Useful Preaching Texts and Tactics

a. Christians have to renounce riches and the retaining of riches to be truly saved.

Luke 14:33; Mat. 6:19-21. Early Christians lost their possessions without it bothering them because they sought a heavenly country and home Acts 8:2; Heb 10:34.

b. The value of a person’s life is not in the possessions he owns.

Luke 12:15, Mat. 6:21

c. Covetousness is a great sin before God.

1 Cor 6:10; Eph 5:3,5; It is idolatry Col. 3:5. Those who do this have erred from the Christian faith 1 Tim 6:10. Christ warned to avoid all types of lust, covetousness, and greed Luke 12:15. We need to be in constant vigilance against greed and covetousness in our lives Mat 23:25; Mark 7:21-23; Luke 12:15. We should flee the desire to enrich (make wealthy) 1 Tim 6:10-11; Heb 13:5. Christians should separate themselves from those who are greedy Eph 5:7. The deception of riches chokes out the true word of God in a person’s heart Mat 13:22.

d. Rich people hardly enter heaven.

Lazarus and the rich man “you have received the good things in your life” Luke 16:19-25. Luke 6:24. People either serve riches or God, but not both, so few get to heaven Mat 6:24; 19:21-24.

e. Christians should seek mediocrity, neither rich nor poor.

Proverbs 30:7-9.

(4) Because I want to be entertained – Some people today want to go to church to be entertained. Really what they want is a bar with its show, but don’t want to pay the price of admission. Somehow they think by involving it with religion it makes it right. These types churches usually cater to people who are very little interested in religious transformation, and are more interested in seeing, hearing, and experiencing.

Their services take the form of orchestrated shows. The hundreds of thousands of dollars on electronics to fully this is obviously a tip off. Who gets the glory, man or God? God organized the church such that the main force in it for spiritual change is the explaining of the Word of God. Does this kind of service fulfill this requirement? What is the spiritual change after hearing a moving (read rock and roll tune placed over a hymn)? Do the people meditate on the words and the message? Most of the time it is hard to even understand the words of these kinds of songs. The glory of the artists who perform them is also in question. God wants purity, so those who minister should be pure. Can God really effectively use a spiritually dirty minister? With the show mentality it doesn’t matter. With a church service that communicates spiritually to the soul (challenges the soul to better itself by obeying God’s word), it is very important. Who will listen to a child-abuser preacher who tells us how to order our families or love relationships with our spouse and children? Nobody. Because he is unqualified to spiritually minister. Yet the list of sins among Christian popular artists is long. None are exemplary in their lives. They are lustful for money, they are proud, they are vain.

You by following that type of church fall into the same sins as those in front of you each week.

Useful Preaching Texts and Tactics

(5) Because I want status, prestige, and power.

Useful Preaching Texts and Tactics

(6) Because I want to be saved – This is the desire or statement of a person who is not saved. Basically anybody who equates having to attend church in order to be saved, is believing in a work instead of faith to be saved.

Useful Preaching Texts and Tactics

a. We are saved by faith, not works. Ephesians 2:9-10; Titus 3:5.

(7) Because I want to religious – This is also the statement of somebody who is not really saved. The human mind and soul understands that there is a moral or religious side to life. Nobody can stand or accept when somebody else steals from them, hurts them, or in other ways does things against them. But without a moral structure, there is no reason why it is wrong. So morals have to enter into the picture in order for us to preserve our rights, freedoms, and liberties (and possessions).

But many people want morality, but they don’t want salvation. They have considered it, and they have deemed that what God has offered comes at a price to high for them. Therefore they fabricate their own religion to fulfill this basic human desire or need, but they create something that avoids their favorite hot points. Often we see belief systems that avoid concepts of hell, grace and mercy (they are not who controls salvation but God), and concepts of deep sacrifice, even to death.

The key to dealing with these people is to get them to see their concepts are in error, and that true salvation is only in Christ. God presents us Jesus, broken and hanging on a cross (speaking of his deep sacrifice), of eternal punishment that won’t go away because we don’t like it, and salvation by grace through faith that means you must understand and come to God and salvation on God’s terms and conditions not on your own fabrications. You cannot judge God, God judges you.

Useful Preaching Texts and Tactics

(8) Because I want my husband/wife/children/parents to turn out right

This is often seen in people who show up occasionally to get a “dose” of religion for their loved ones. Normally this goes hand in hand with family problems. When the kids are rebellious, the parents decide it is time to take them to church. When they think they have exposed them to sufficient “religion” (see above) then they again fall away from church attendance.

Here the point is to deal with these family problems separate from the rest, then deal with the lack of commitment in these key people (the ones doing the bringing), and finally to verify that they are truly saved.

Useful Preaching Texts and Tactics

(9) Because I was brought up in church, and its my custom/habit – Although church attendance should be the custom or habit of every true Christian, this should not be the reason why you go to church. You should go for other reasons, but it should be a part of your Christian life.

People who have this principle reason for going to church receive blessings anyway, but often they are very vulnerable to being offended, to being scared off by problems, or they don’t participate or interact with the church and the brethren because they have a faulty foundation here.

Useful Preaching Texts and Tactics

The Right Reasons for Coming to Church

(1) Because it is an evidence of true salvation.
(2) God commands me to go to church, and it should be my custom.
(3) It was the example left to us by the NT church and first century Christians.
(4) Church provides me with opportunity to identify with Christ as my Savior.
(5) Church provides me with opportunity to serve God by serving my brothers in Christ.
(6) Church provides me with the context to benefit from spiritually gifted ministers.
(7) Church provides me with the avenue to properly worship God.
(8) To comply with other commandments in my Christian life, I must do so in the context of church.
(9) Church facilitates the growth of my faith, the holiness of my life, and purity of my doctrine.

(1) Because it is an evidence of true salvation.

This point is our strongest point that we must belabor with our people regularly (always new people who come in and everybody has to have this grilled into them). Very simply the relationship we have with the people of God is a reflection of our saving relationship with God.


1 John 2:9 He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.

“hate” – [3404 miseo] – Meaning: 1) to hate, pursue with hatred, detest 2) to be hated, detested  BDAG – “depending on the context, this verb ranges in meaning from ‘disfavor’ to ‘detest’  The English term ‘hate’ generally suggests affective connotations that do not always do justice especially to some Semitic shame-honor oriented use… in the sense of ‘hold in disfavor, be disinclined to, have relatively little regard for.'” The point is that miseo can mean to want to do harm to, to detest, but it can also be a much less intense form, such as BDAG’s second meaning, (2) to be disinclined to, disfavor, disregard. Thayer’s has this second meaning as “to love less, to postpone in love or esteem, to slight… feel and express nothing more than interest in, or disregard and indifference.”

1 John 3:6-11 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. 7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. 11 For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

1 John 5:18 We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.


God places two clear signs of salvation before so that we may “try the spirits” 1 John 4:1-2, and discern what is of God and what is not. These signs of salvation are:

(1) to keep the commandments of God. (and they are not grievous to us 1 John 5:3).
(2) to love the brethren.

You cannot truly be saved and hate or sleight or put little or no interest and attention in Christ and His body.


1 John 3:14-19 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. 15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. 16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? 18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. 19 And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.


Simply put, anybody who hates his brother (here stronger use of “hate”) is a murderer and no murderer is a truly saved person, he does not have eternal life abiding in him. Sacrifice like Jesus did for us demanding a response if it is accepted. The only acceptable response is sacrifice in kind. Here we enter into some clarifications.

(1) Who is my brother? – Very simply everybody who is truly saved. This is why John entered into defining who is saved in the first part of this epistle. Those who we are to understand as being saved (our brothers) with which we have an obligation to relate are those who (a.) have fellowship with God 1 Jn 1, and that fellowship must be seen in their lives. (b.) They must manifest the light of God and not darkness. (c.) The true Christian is a person who does not sin. 1:8-10 says all sin, but here the idea is not a one time occurrence but rather an habitual practicing of sin. There is a firm and solid commitment on all Christians to “keep the word of God”, i.e. obey (2:2-5). (d.) The truly saved is marked by walking as Christ walked (2:6, 18; 1:6-7; Mat 11:29; John 13:15).

If this is true, then the context of seeing the lifestyle of our brethren must be limited to a limited and local context. Our brethren (those with whom we have obligation) are those who are local and visible, not on the other side of the world. It is not necessarily wrong to send help to some distant church, but the force of our spiritual obligation is to a local context, those whom we “live with” and “fellowship with” in a local context.

(2) What is love? – Love apparently is to see to the conditions of another, and make them better or the best that they can be. 1 John 3:17 interjects a physical needs element in this relationship. The person claiming to be saved and rejects sacrificing of his goods and money when a brother is in need, simply is denying the love of Christ, and this is a testimony against his salvation not for it.

Matthew 25:31-46 Parable of the helpful – Jesus put forth a parable to make a point, who really is the saved? As a shepherd separating his own sheep from the goats that join in his flock, God will one day separate the unsaved from the truly saved. Here the criteria is the point of this parable, what is the element that distinguishes a true sheep of Jesus Christ from a goat of Satan.

Love for Christ as demonstrated through service to the Body of Christ – These saved people didn’t fully comprehend that their service to their brethren was actually to Christ Himself. Thirst, hungry, clothing, seeing to needs when sick or in jail.

Matthew 25:40 Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Hatred for Christ as demonstrated for lack of interest in the Body of Christ – Here the point is not that these people persecuted the body of Christ, simply that they had no time nor interest for “those types of things”.

Matthew 25:45-46 hen shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. 46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

Clearly these are unsaved people who thought they were going to heaven got a nasty surprise. The criteria for discernment is simply in a person’s relationship with the body of Christ.

Matthew 7:20-23 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. 21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Here we need to insert this passage above. A true Christian is known by his fruits. Even some people will boast in the judgment that they have “prophesied” or preached, they have done many great and wonderful works like casting out devils, and God will say he never knew them. Their works are iniquity. The key is knowing God’s will by seeking God’s will, and then by doing God’s will.

(3) What is hate? – We have already seen that hatred is really not necessary the destroying of another (although it can be), but it is also the disinterest, the lack of priority, the lack of show of interest in something. This is what happens when a Christian takes a plan of attending church once a month or every other week something like that. It is disinterest. This is the same plan that a supposed Christian takes when he comes in late to the services, leaves early (no fellowship with the brethren), or when he refuses to open up in this fellowship to participate in what is going on in the local church.

You are only saved by loving Christ. To love Christ means to embrace Him, and all that that signifies. This love of Christ also includes loving those redeemed by Christ.

1 John  5:1 Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.

Simply put, you cannot manifest this love with the following things:

(1) Dedicate time to being physically with these brethren.
(2) Dedicate energy and interest to know them personally.
(3) Dedicate resources to help them (time in prayer, time in aiding them, etc).
(4) Sacrifice of your economic resources to help them (donations, etc).

The local church is a group of redeemed people in your area which have decided to organize themselves so as to comply with the will of God, and to move forward the word of God as best they can. If that is truly their purpose and character, you must unite with them and support them both with interest, energy, and resources. To do otherwise is to sleight Christ, and sleight your Savior and your salvation. These passages present us with the picture that such a person who sleights Christ and His body is simply not saved.

(2) God commands me to go to church, and it should be my custom (habit).

Psalm 50:5 Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.

Nothing is as direct or stronger than a direct command. Here we go to Hebrews 10:25.

Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) 24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

The context of this command is that Hebrews is written for Jews who were under the OT system. The point of the previous verses is that the author is convincing the Jews that the OT system is set aside for the new system (churches instead of the OT Temple). A false conclusion would be that our independence from the OT system would mean we do not need to congregate. Nothing would be further from the truth.

God has planned our salvation to be worked out in a context of a local group of redeemed, called a local church or a “church.”

Notice in Hebrews 10:24-25 that church attendance is wedged between provoking one another to good works and exhorting one another. This is a local church context.

Useful Preaching Texts and Tactics

a. God Treats Harshly Willful Belligerence on our part

Luke 12:47 And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.

1 John 2:17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

Here your best approach is to show the individual that salvation has as its foundation obedience to the will of God. That is what saves you, doing what God wants, and in the case of salvation it means being in Jesus as the Redeemer of your soul from your sins. If this is the foundation or a condition upon which we enter salvation, then it absolutely has to be an element of every true Christian’s life. He who believes he is a Christian but does not have that tender and live relationship with the will of God is only deceiving himself on the issue of salvation in the first place.

Other verses are the brokenness of Christ as our example (body broken on the cross and in the Lord’s Supper), meekness and humility as our principle Christian nature, the active seeking of God the Father’s will as Christ showed us so we can imitate (John 4:34; 5:30; 6:38; Mat 26:39), and verses using the keeping of God’s commandments as almost a condition of salvation (1 John 2:4-5; 3:24; 5:3; John 14:15, 21,23; 15:10; Mat. 11:30).

Acts 17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

b. The Idea of church or congregating

The terms used for church or congregation (ekklesia in the NT) means called out for a purpose. The point is that it was used to call the people out of their homes and normal business to gather for a special purpose, like a town meeting to deal with a group issue. This is what God wants us as Christians to do every Sunday and Wednesday night.

c. Custom, manner or Habit in Congregating Hebrews 10:25

The idea behind congregating with the people of God for the purposes of God is that it be an established regular part of our lives. A habit is something that we always usually do. On any given Sunday during the year, you should be in church. If you are not in church then it is because of an emergency or some non-normal event in your life, sickness, vacation (even here you should be in a church wherever you are vacationing), business travel, etcetera.

(2) It was the example left to us by the NT church and first century Christians.

Luke 4:16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.

We see that the New Testament church and Christians have left us an example for us to follow. Without argument, the New Testament believers had the establishment (by God) of local churches. These local churches were gathering points where the people of God got together to do the work of God and fulfill the purposes of God on the day God appointed (God changed it from Saturday to Sunday in honor of the resurrection).

Useful Preaching Texts and Tactics

a. Jesus custom was to be in with the people of God on the day God established for the purposes God established (Scripture reading and explaining Neh 8:8).

Luke 4:16.

b. New Testament Church example.

John 20:1, 26; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2

c. What did they do when they got together? Typical local church service stuff. Acts 2:46-47 fellowship and praising God, 1 Cor 14:26 Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, doctrinal teaching, edifying things; 1 Cor 11:27 Lord’s Supper. The most central activity is the public reading and explaining of Scriptures Luke 24:27, 32, 45; Act 17:2-3.

d. We should not let pass by either, that the Old Testament example is the same. Psalm 23:6; 27:4; 65:4; 84:4; 134:1-2.

(3) Church provides me with opportunity to identify with Christ as my Savior.

Our salvation depends on our faith, and the strength of our faith is extremely important therefore. That professing of Christ is precious and extremely dear to the true Christian. God has designed salvation such that it is necessary for us to interact in order to truly be saved.

Useful Preaching Texts and Tactics

a. Romans 10:10-11, Matthew 10:32-33 Importance of Confessing Christ

Romans 10:10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

Confession is a necessary outworking of our faith, because he who refuses to confess Christ is plainly not saved (Matthew 10:32-33). Here (verse 11) he who is ashamed of Christ is not saved.

Matthew 10:32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. 33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

The bottom line here is that anybody that claims to be a Christian but refuses to publicly confess Christ is simply not yet saved. Take great caution that you do not leave the impression that some kind of confession (as a work) is necessary for salvation, but rather the reality of salvation depends on the boldness and lack of shame one has towards his faith in Christ.

Useful Explanation: Here I use the illustration of two young single people. If a young man asks a girl to marry him, but they do it in the privacy of his room with nobody else present, and then he says to her that they will never tell anybody that they are married, they will never get a marriage certificate, and they will not live together, both will continue to live with each’s parents like they did growing up, what girl in her right mind will accept this kind of thing? All girls want the same thing here, a ring (shows commitment), a wedding where both families and friends come (shows lack of shame and public acceptance of the girl as his wife), and in general a constant acceptance by the guy that he is really married, and married to her.

God is no different. God wants us to publicly confess Christ. Here the beginning is in our water baptism, then our relationship with God is seen in our relationship with a local church where there are true redeemed, and then a general anywhere everywhere public recognition that Christ is your hope of going to heaven, you are a little Christ, or Christian.

b. We should not have shame towards our faith in Christ.

God is very specific about the absolute need of not being ashamed of Christ if you propose that you have saving faith. See No Shame in Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26; Romans 9:33; 10:11; Phil 1:20; 1 Pet 2:6; 1John 2:28. See No Denying in Mat. 10:33; Luke 12:9; Rom. 1:16; 2 Tim 1:8; 2:12.

c. We are saved by God to give witness to the Savior.

Mat. 5:16 – God commands us to let our light shine.

1 Peter 2:9 – God has ordained us as a people to show forth the praises of he who calls people from darkness to light.

(4) Church provides me with opportunity to serve God by serving my brothers in Christ.

God’s design for every Christian is that he live out his spiritual life in the context of a local church, relating to the other redeemed in that local church as well as the spiritual leadership in that local church. This is main burden we have in this issue of attendance and participation. If we lose the battle here, we have lost everything.

Useful Preaching Texts and Tactics

a. Brotherly love with the redeemed is a principle part of God’s commandment to us.

First is that the true Christian must love his brother, and secondly this love must take the form of service. He who does not love and does not meet the needs of his Christian brethren by means of personal service, well, they cannot enjoy salvation it would appear.

Here we need to explain some things. First of all, Titus 3:5 and Ephesians 2:8-9 again clearly lay down the principle that we are not saved by works but by faith. But true saving faith is a “fruitful” belief, that is, a belief that produces fruit or evidence in a person’s life. No evidence, no real faith (see James 2:17-24).

Okay, so real faith is to love God for the salvation He has given us, and this love is intangible, because God is not physically here in a body that we can show Him our love. So God has replaced his physical body with the body of Christ, the redeemed. We show our love for God by what we do to our brethren.

Read Matthew 25:31-46.

Let’s note a few things here. First note that God sees how we treat our brethren in Christ as how we would treat God if he was here again in a physical body. Not treating God with respect gets one thrown in hell pretty quick. That point is lost in our day of disrespect being trendy.

Next let’s note that it is not how we treat everybody else, but how we treat our brethren in Christ. This does not extend to the unsaved but to the saved, and this we understand in the context of a local church.

Next let’s note that those who are disfavored here are not out of God’s will, or good Christians that God is displeased with, but the roughest wording possible is used. They are going directly to hell!

Matthew 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Matthew 25:45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

Both the positive and the negative are noted. Those who are truly saved do serve their brethren in Christ, and those who do not serve their brethren in Christ cannot possibly be saved for God condemns them to hell. Here we go much beyond church attendance to church participation and active Christian service of every member towards their brethren in Christ.

1 John 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

Now we go to 1 John and note that to be saved by God is to declare and comply with one’s intentions to be like God. However God is, that is how we should model our lives. God is love, and love demands relationship with somebody else in order to truly manifest itself in its purest form. Therefore a community is absolute necessary.

Chapter 3 of 1st John reveals to us how to discern who is our brother. Basically our Christian brother is somebody who confesses publicly Christ and does not sin. Sin is ever present with us, even among good Christians, but the idea is that Christians renounce sin, and when they do sin, it is a shame and they are uneasy and stressed by it, and they repent and abandon it.

But note something else here.

1 John 3:11 For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?

What we have here then is a clear explanation of what should be happening in every true believer’s life. He has a relationship with the body of Christ, other Christians, and here we insert other Christians in the context of a local church. The New Testament clearly presents that Christians had relationships with each other in local churches, and we see nothing that clearly presents any parallel to the church. Only the local church exists in the New Testament. Everything rotates around it. There are no Christian organizations or groups outside of the local church.

So a Christian that does not love his brethren, is not really a Christian. Can you love somebody that you neglect, that you do not seek out, that you do not serve and care for? Matthew 25 says no.

The relationship of the believer with other believers is absolutely essential in his Christian life and for him to validate his salvation. The idea here is that he validates his true love for God through how he relates with his brethren in Christ. If this is a valid conclusion from this passage (and I assert it is), then what does it reveal about the reality of the love of a professing Christian that abandons the church and never participates, and attends almost nothing at all? His love for God is fake.

b. Our attitude should be happy and glad at the thought of church, not something else.

Psalm 122:1

c. God doesn’t want us to serve and worship God in outward hypocrisy, but in inward truth.

John 4:23; Matthew 15:7.

Getting this concept through to our church people is absolutely necessary for their spiritual growth and spiritual welfare.

(5) Church provides me with the context to benefit from spiritually gifted ministers.

Very simply put, God has given us a set of commandments and teachings that makes it quite impossible to comply with all of these without first depositing the context of a local New Testament church. You simply cannot comply correctly without understanding that each and every Christian is a member of a local church.

Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

For example, in this passage God has given His church spiritual gifts. Now the question is, where exactly did God intend for these gifted people to exercise their spiritual gifts so that everybody can benefit? Isn’t it in the context of a local church?

Useful Preaching Texts and Tactics

(6) Church provides me with the avenue to properly worship God.

Although we should be worshipful towards God always, no matter wherever we might find ourselves, God’s desire is that we join with our co-redeemed in the place God has appointed, on the time God has appointed to do what God has appointed. In this time and place and situation, we should worship God in the presence of our brethren.

Useful Preaching Texts and Tactics

a. God deserves all our worship and honor.

Rev. 4:11.

(7) To comply with other commandments in my Christian life, I must do so in the context of church.

Useful Preaching Texts and Tactics

a. Verses that demand a community of the local church

James 5:14 – sick call the elders of the church.
Galatians 6:2 – bearing one another’s burdens before the Lord (especially in prayer) this shows the great need of attending mid-week prayer service
1 Thess 5:10 – encourage one another with these words
1 Thess 5:10 – edify one another
1 Thess 5:12 – know (recognize and honor) those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you.
Acts 3:13 – exhorting one another.
1 Cor 16:14-16
– submit yourselves to those who are addicted to the ministry of the saints and works diligently, and are helping.
Hebrews 13:7 – remember (recognize and hold in respect) them which have the rule (governing or leading) over you… whose faith follow considering the end of their conduct.
Hebrews 13:17 – Obey them that have the rule over you and submit yourselves (1 Tim 5:17)
1 Cor 9:14 – those who work of the gospel should live of the gospel (by your financial support)

b. Verses touching our spiritual sacrifices to God

God established (Exodus 19:6; 1 Peter 2:4,5, 9) that we redeemed in the New Testament dispensation are all priests before God. Part of our priesthood is to offer sacrifices (with the requirement of a holy life before we can do so correctly) and to intercede before God on the behalf of others.

Holy life dedicated to the Lord and His work – Romans 12:1-2; 2 Cor 8-15
Brotherly love through goods works and mutual help – 1 Tim 6:18; Eph 2:10; 4:28; Gal 6:10; Titus 2:14; 3:1,8; Hebrews 6.10; 13:1,2,15; Romans 12:10,13.
Joy – Phil 2:17-18; Psalm 107:22; 132:9.
Thanksgiving – 2 Cor 9:9-12
Praise – Hebrews 13:15; Psalms 50.14; 107:22; 116:17
Hymns and Spiritual Songs

(8) Church facilitates the growth of my faith, the holiness of my life, and purity of my doctrine.

Let’s put this point as clearly as we can. The only thing that saves us is our faith in Jesus Christ. The quality of our Christian life (and life in general) after we are saved is dependent in only one thing, the same thing, our faith in Jesus Christ. So our faith is a most important thing for those of us who are really saved. What’s more our faith is of great concern to God.

Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) 24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

God wedges this great commandment concerning our congregating in a passage with other elements. Verse 23 speaks of God’s exhortation to us to hold fast or to shore up our faith. The way to do this (keep your faith, and make it grow stronger) is simply by congregating (not just attending church, but attending and participating or interacting with other redeemed in church).

Notice that our activities here are provoking our Christian brethren to love and good works. How? By us being an example in doing this. We are to exhort one another. How can we do this if we do not have time during each week in which we are with our Christian brethren in a certain place with this as its purpose? This is church!

Useful Preaching Texts and Tactics

Is Church Membership Necessary?

B. Why people don’t come to church

C. Why people participate in church.

D. Why people don’t participate in church

(in construction)

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