Why is it important to go to church? Doesn’t the lockdown show that we don’t need to go to church?
By Ntobeko Mjijwa
The importance of going to church (the congregating of believers in one place) can be seen throughout scripture. It is visible, for example, in the book of Acts, in Paul’s letters, and in the book of Hebrews.
Belonging to a church is more than just gathering in a church building.
“The concept of “breaking bread” (Acts 2:42) also carries the idea of having meals together. This is another example of the church promoting fellowship. The final purpose of the church according to Acts 2:42 is prayer. The church is to be a place that promotes prayer, teaches prayer, and practices prayer.” (https://www.gotquestions.org/purpose-church.html)
Going to church is one place where we get to meet other believers in person, this way we truly form genuine relationships, and we truly become a community. This also helps us to see the practicalities of Revelation 7:9-10:
“After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb… and they cried out in a loud voice: salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne and to the Lamb.”
When we participate in church gathering we portray this truth that is and it is still to come.
Church is not a mere gathering but a community of believers who encourage each other physically, mentally and Spiritually. Hence it is important to be part of a ministry (teach Sunday School, lead a Bible study, bake/cook for a function at church, help with setting sound, chairs or clean up before church starts etc.) in church so you can serve other believers with your gifts.
“The church is to be a place of fellowship, where Christians can be devoted to one another and honor one another (Romans 12:10), instruct one another (Romans 15:14), be kind and compassionate to one another (Ephesians 4:32), encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11), and most importantly, love one another (1 John 3:11).” (https://www.gotquestions.org/purpose-church.html)
Doesn’t the lockdown show that we don’t need to go to church?
On the contrary, I think it underlines the importance of church gatherings. You may ask how so? Every Christian who believers in Jesus Christ’s life, death and resurrection is the church, not the four walls of the building. It should be a pleasure for us to read our Bibles at home and pray at home, and we don’t have to wait for Sunday gathering to do so, but church is not the place in which we consume Christian content. It is the place in which we express the qualities of relationship and love. The absence of these things under lockdown has shown how important they are.
The lockdown is the government exercising its God-given power (Romans 13) to protect its citizens from a pandemic/COVID-19. Therefore it was a necessary precaution from the government’s part to prohibit all gatherings in order to stop the rapid spread of the virus. This decision was not to render church unimportant but to protect the citizens of South Africa. The Scripture does urge us to listen to our government or those in authority (Romans 13) until we gather again as believers in the church building when it is safe. In the meantime let us continue praying, reading our Bibles, watching sermons on zoom/YouTube or listening to audio sermons inside our homes with family members.