Why do you go to church each week? To worship God? Do you go to sing and hear the sermon? What about going for fellowship? According to a recent survey by the Barna Group, people say they go to church for two main reasons: to grow closer to God and to learn more about Him.
The sad part is that most people don’t feel close to God, and they don’t learn more about Him. In fact, according to Barna’s research, just 6 percent of those people who have ever been to church say they learned something about God or Jesus the last time they were there.1
It’s good that you go to church to learn more about God or Jesus. And it’s good that you go to sing, hear the sermon, and fellowship. But let me give you another reason to go to church, and it’s one that you can use the next time you’re there: Go to church to encourage one another. The Old Testament word for encourage means “to strengthen,” while the New Testament word means “to comfort.”
First Thessalonians 5:11-14 says:
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.
To encourage means to “come alongside of.” To encourage others, we need to reach out and help them. We can do that by recognizing what God has done through them. We also encourage people by not discouraging them, by listening to them, praying with them and for them, and taking their concerns seriously.
Encouragement is important because so much is at stake. Hebrews 10:25 tells us to not give up our “meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Many people don’t go to church because they don’t think it is important, thinking they can just do church at home. That is not what the Bible says. It says we need to go to church to encourage one another.
Let’s meet together this coming week not only to praise God but to encourage one another.
- Barna Group, “Americans Divided on the Importance of Church,” barna.org.