Things somehow get way off topic in the comments section, so I’m moving a debate on church attendance from the Crash! thread to here. It all started when Trish rebuked someone for not attending a church. When challenged about her interpretation of Hebrews 10:25, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching,” Trish wrote:
No I am not kidding about Heb. 10:25 being a proof text for church going, as we refer to it today. In context the writer to the Hebrews is on the same page with the Apostle’s teaching for New Covenant believers (even though he uses Old Testament imagery), which sees the regular assembling of God’s people, the church. The Hebrew believers were in danger of backsliding so he/she urges them towards one (of many) means of God’s grace which was regular meeting together for the fellowship of mutual encouragement until Jesus comes back again. For the early church their identity was much more than just hanging out together; it included the practice of ordinances, proper pastoral leadership, worship and so on. The reason I brought it up is because of a couple of entries on April 27/2004 where it was said that the text in question isn’t “about attending church services” and that its exhortation is merely “a suggestion if you will.” I disagree strongly and believe that a churchless Christianity is a grotesque misreading of the epistles in the New Testament. The readership of Hebrews was largely Jewish and (new covenant) Christians probably just before the time of the destruction of Jersualem, (70 A.D.) which isn’t mentioned, and they are falling backwards turning their backs on church.
Trish has obviously looked into the background of the passage, and she makes some good points. There’s no doubt that we’re supposed to get together with other believers to do certain things. I think the big flawed assumption here is that the passage had anything in mind like our modern church service. Somehow I thought for years that if you put on a suit or dress, went to a particular building, sang, put something in the offering, listened to a 30-minute sermon, and grabbed a coffee on the way out, that you had obeyed Hebrews 10:25. I’m now pretty sure that if that’s all you do, you’re not doing what this verse says at all. It obviously means we ought to do something, and I’ll get around to that, but for now I’d like to challenge you to think about what we do Sunday mornings in most of our churches. It’s not necessarily wrong, but does everyone have to do it this way? Are there alternate ways of being the church that are just as valid? Do we really accomplish everything we think we’re accomplishing in our Sunday gatherings? I’m not implying answers, but I’m suggesting that these are legitimate questions worth thinking about.