The key verses on this topic come from Hebrews 10:
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. ” (Hebrews 10:24-25)
These words are written in the context of what Christ’s sacrifice has done for us, and how we are able to approach God through the blood of Christ. It encourages us both to stand firm in our own faith and to meet with other believers and encourage and help them.
Certainly sometimes it can seem like there is very little point going to church. We don’t help anyone else, money is given that just goes to keeping up the building or the minister, and this goes on week after week, month after month without anyone seeming to grow or change. Maybe we even feel that it is just something we do to show that we are good, but doesn’t have a real meaning. However, I think it is important to remember that a church is just a group of individuals. These words in Hebrews tell us that we personally have to act, not just say “The church isn’t getting anywhere”. If nothing seems to be happening, we are encouraged to think about how we can persuade other people to show love and to do good works, and to encourage each other. As the Day of the Lord’s return comes nearer we need to try and encourage each other more. Even our attendance might be helping and encouraging others who are there in ways that we do not realise.
In continuing to meet together we are also following the New Testament example of Christ and the apostles. Christ made it his custom to meet in the Synagogue on the Sabbath (Luke 4:16), and while he was there he would teach and encourage. Paul showed a similar example (Acts 17:2), even searching for another meeting place with people to meet with when there was no synagogue (Acts 16:13). The believers seem to have met together to worship together, to pray, to have fellowship, and to remember and proclaim Christ’s death (e.g. Acts 2:1, 42 – 47; 12:12; 20:7; 1 Corinthians 5:4; 11:17 – 20, 23 – 26; 14:23). If we choose not to attend a church or meet with other believers, then we are going against this precedent. What this means is that we are not helping others become better followers of Christ, and that we do not have anyone to help us become better followers of Christ or to assist us when things seem too hard. Scripture encourages us to work together to prevent this happening (Ecclesiastes 4:9 – 12).
Of course, if a church is wrong we cannot always fix all of its problems by ourselves. In some cases moving to a different church might be a good idea, but I think the overall scriptural principle behind meeting with others is so that we can help them and they can help us. I find it encouraging that in Christ’s letter to the church at Sardis (Revelation 3:1 – 6) he states that the church is dead, but also says that there are a few people who remain who are worthy and they will be in the book of life and be saved. Even if we are working in a church that seems dead, we can still be chosen followers of Christ and we can even help those seeming dead in that church to become living followers of Christ.