History of apostle John, became pastor of Ephesus church, exiled on Patmos for awhile.
There is a church tradition, which says, that when John was evidently an old man in Ephesus, he had to be carried to the church in the arms of his disciples. At these meetings, he was accustomed to say no more than, "Little children, love one another!" After a time, the disciples wearied at always hearing the same words, asked, "Master, why do you always say this?" "It is the Lord's command," was his reply. "And if this alone be done, it is enough!"
Why did the Apostle John need to go to church? He was an apostle? Lived with Jesus?
Can you know God apart from a Church? Yes, you can. Then do we have to go to church? Can we get spiritual nourishment from private prayer and personal Bible Study? Yes, you can? Then why go to church?
1. God commands us to
Lev 23:3 The seventh is a holy convocation. Many scriptures about the Sabbath. Few say to assemble.
Heb 10:25 Let us not forsake the assembling of ourselves
2. To worship and praise God – group worship and praise
Psa 89:7 God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints
Psa 111:1 I will praise the Lord with my whole heart in the assembly of the upright, the congregation
3. Jesus set us an example to follow
Luke 4:16 Jesus custom was to go to the synagogue on the Sabbath day
Luke 6:6 On another Sabbath, also, He entered the synagogue and taught
Jesus went to the Jewish synagogue every Sabbath. Why? Did He need the spiritual message? Or for other reasons? Did He as the Son of God learn anything when others read the scriptures? Yes, He went there to teach, but was that the only reason?
4. For spiritual food – we need someone else’s perspective, not just our own
Eph 4:12-16 God gave His church a ministry for the perfecting of the saints, unity of knowledge
For spiritual food. If your church isn’t supplying you with nourishment – a healthy well balanced diet -- then not the right church. If half truths, then there are fillers, chemicals, etc. in your spiritual food.
4A. For spiritual correction
2 Tim 4:2 Sermons should include reproof, rebuke, exhortation, that is, correction
2 Tim 3:16 Scriptures for reproof, correction and instruction
Often need someone else to point out our faults and opportunities for improvement. We aren’t as likely to see our own sins through our own Bible study and prayer. Another point of view is important.
But going to church is for more than just for spiritual food.
Mal 3:16 Those who feared the Lord spoke to one another
John 17:20-21 To be at one with one another
Acts 2:41-42 Church grew, they continued in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, eating and prayer
Psa 55:14 (LB) What good fellowship we once enjoyed as we walked together to the house of God.
6. To help, serve brethren – To show our love and concern for each other and encourage each other to be a better Christian. To hopefully set a good example.
Gal 6:10 As have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially those of the household of faith
1 Thes 5:11 Brethren are to comfort each other and edify one another
6A. To encourage each other
Heb 10:24-25 Consider one another in order to stir up love and good works
6B. Hear about other peoples trails, health, so we can pray for them
Jam 5:16 Confess faults to one another and pray for one another
6C. Hear about other peoples blessings so we can rejoice with them
1 Cor 12:26 One member suffers, all suffer. If one member honored, all members rejoice with it
Rom 12:15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep
6D. For correction from brethren
1 Thes 5:14 Brethren are to warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak
Heb 3:13 Exhort one another daily, lest we be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin
7. To praise God in songs
Psa 149:1 Sing to the Lord a new song. Sing His praises in the assembly of the faithful
Eph 5:19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing to God
While we desire spiritual food, we also go to church to be comforted spiritually and physically, for spiritual mental stability – there are others who believe like we do.
For Spiritual Healing – The Church is not just for perfect Christians. Never been one, never been a perfect church.
Mark 2:17 (LB) Healthy people don’t need a doctor – sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.
We take advantage of every tool God’s gives us to grow in spiritual health: private prayer, private Bible Study and going to church with fellow Christians with the same beliefs. Don’t take going to church for granted. Add to list of things we talked about in sermon series give God thanks for things we usually take for granted.
Attend at least weekly
Never/almost never attend
This data is taken from the Millennium Study by Taylor Nelson Sofres Intersearch in 1999.
For years, pollsters have been asking adult Americans whether they go to religious services regularly. Typically, the specific question asks whether they attended a service during the previous weekend. The results have been relatively constant over time. Some recent estimates:
· 38% by the National Opinion Research Center
· 44% by the Institute for Social Research’s World Values survey. This institute is located at the University of Michigan.
· 40% by National Election Studies. Their poll shows that in 1996, 25% of adult Americans claimed to attend church, synagogue or temple every week; 12% almost every week; 16% once or twice a month, 18% a few times a year, and 30% never. 7 Assuming that “almost every week” means 3 weeks out of 4, then these data indicate 40% attendance.
Various studies in recent years have cast a grave doubt on the 40% value.
Public opinion polls generally do not report real opinions and events. They report only the information that the individuals choose to tell the pollsters. Quite often, their answers will be distorted by a phenomenon called “social desirability bias.” Pollees answer questions according to what they think they should be doing, rather than what they are doing. For example, a poll by Barna Research showed that 17% of American adults say that they tithe—i.e. they give 10 to 13% of their income to their church. Only 3% actually do. (17 ½ % actually do what say they do.
The gap between what they do and what they say they do is closer in the case of religious attendance. It is “only” about 2 to 1. (50% actually do what they say they do.)
“Like other social scientists who use survey data, we trusted Gallup poll results because we knew they employed sound sampling methods. Doubts emerged, however, when we compared statistics on church membership from American denominations to Gallup’s reports on church attendance. If the percentage of Americans attending church is stable, aggregate church membership should have increased as the American population grew. But after adding together denominational membership statistics (including estimates of membership for independent congregations) we found that the aggregate membership total has been virtually static since the late 1960s. This contradiction led us to wonder if Americans were reporting the same level of attendance to pollsters while their actual church participation was dropping. Our first study provided an initial test of this dynamic. Subsequent research confirmed it in important ways.”
Hadaway, Marler, and Mark Chaves counted the number of people
attending four Protestant churches in Ashtabula County, OH, and in 18 Roman
Catholic dioceses throughout the U.S. In their 1993 report they stated that
actual attendance was only about half of the level reported in public opinion
surveys: 20% vs. 40% for Protestants, and 28% vs. 50% for Roman Catholics.
They later returned to Ashtabula County to measure attendance by Roman Catholics. They physically counted the number of attendees at each mass over several months. They concluded that 24% of Catholics in he county actually attended mass. They then polled residents of the county by telephone. 51% of Roman Catholic respondents said that they had attended church during the previous week. Apparently, most were lying.
Later in 1993, Jay Demerath of the University of Massachusetts referred to the gap between poll results and reality. He said: “Gallup and other pollsters are aware of this. Its kind of a dirty little secret.”
Presser and Stinson found that many Americans were not at church when they claimed to be. Their best estimates are that the percentage of adults who actually attended religious services during the previous weekend dropped from 42% in 1965 to 26% in 1994.
If this study by Presser and Stinson is accurate, it would indicate a substantial drop in actual church attendance from the mid 1960s to the mid 1990s. Since the reported attendance has remained stuck at the magical 40% figure for decades, one might conclude that the rate of exaggeration of church attendance is increasing. Also, it would appear that polls are to be mistrusted. Nobody really knows what the percentage attendance is. To obtain accurate data, pollsters will have to abandon the comfortable task of polling opinion by phone and camp out in church, synagogue, and mosque parking lots so that they can count noses.
There was a surge in church attendance after the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington on 2001-SEP-11. Some religious leaders predicted that the phenomenon would be short lived. Others saw it as the start of a major revival in the U.S. According to the New York Times, Franklin Graham, son of the well known Christian evangelist, Rev. Billy Graham, hailed it as an enduring turn toward God. On NOV-20, Fundamentalist Christian Pat Robertson said that the attack was “bringing about one of the greatest spiritual revivals in the history of America...People are turning to God. The churches are full.” It appears that, with the exception of the New York City area, the increase lasted only about two months.
The director of the Center for the Study of Religion at Princeton University, Robert Wuthnow, said that the terrorists’ attacks have not changed the basic makeup of the U.S.:
· About one in four of American adults is devoutly religious;
· one in four is secular, and
· the remaining half is mildly interested about religion.
Rabbi Ronald S. Roth of West End Synagogue in Nashville, TN, said:
“We did see a larger influx for the holidays, and the mood was very intense. I can’t say, however, that this increased interest in services has been sustained...When people face such a tragic and horrible event, they need comfort, they need community, they need to relate to their God and their traditions, and try to find a way to get through the pain. Once I think people got past some of the initial shock and difficulties, they started to get back to how it was before.”
A poll conducted by Barna Research Group showed no increase in 11 of the 13 key measures of religiosity due to the terrorist attacks.
“We are in some ways a very religious country, especially compared to Western Europe. But we’re of two minds, and the other mind is that we really are pretty secular. We are very much a country of consumers and shoppers, and we’re quite materialistic. And as long as we can kind of paste together a sense of control through our ordinary work and our ordinary purchases, we’re pretty happy to do that.”