Can Christians be pleasing to God by worshiping at home instead of assembling with saints?

A large percentage of denominational folks have long believed that “going to church” or going to a worship assembly is unnecessary. They claim to worship God in their own individual ways, at home, in a boat fishing, or otherwise meditating on God. These folks ignore the warning of Heb. 10:25 – “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the day approaching.”

But it is not unheard of for real Christians, members of the Lord’s church, to adopt a similar stay-at-home attitude. They often do so either because they disagree with some decision or practice of the local church, or because that is a convenient excuse to just stay home.

Whether the stay-at-home practitioner is a denominationalist or a Christian, both mistakenly or purposely ignore much that the Bible teaches about worship, fellowship, and the duty of disciples. Often, refusal to assemble with the saints is rooted in a selfish and prideful attitude.

Justifiers of home and fishing boat worship often point to Matt. 18:20, where Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there in the midst of them.” But Jesus wasn’t there justifying mini-assemblies. The context shows quite clearly that the plural number addressed the number of witnesses needed to establish error on the part of a fellow Christian.

Mom and pop home assemblies – unless no other alternative is possible – prevent the worshipers from having fellowship and communion with a wider portion of the body of Christ. Examine 1 Cor. 11:17-34 and notice that Paul repeatedly states how the Lord’s supper is to be observed “when you come together as a church” and “when you come together in one place.”

What if everyone decided to do what our “home worshipers” do? Instead of having a congregation (assembly, church) of sixty or seventy members, we’d have twenty to thirty little congregations without personal fellowship with one another.

Is that what the Lord wants? Apparently not, because in the same letter just mentioned, Paul wrote: “Now I plead with you brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Cor. 1:10). Some in Corinth were dividing themselves. The apostle condemned such.

The Hebrew writer quoted earlier directed the saints not to forsake the assembly, but to “exhort one another.” Exhortation is encouragement of one another. It is one of the great blessings of assembling with other Christians. Apparently, self-exiled Christians neither see the need for exhortation nor the need to exhort others. Again, this may well be indicative of prideful selfishness.

We also are instructed to “edify” one another, which speaks of building one another up through our teaching, encouragement, joint participation in worship and expressions of faith (Rom. 14:19; 15:1-3). How can we edify other saints when we are absent? How can you encourage others in the faith when you are not there or know of others who need encouragement from you?

Our fellowship in Christ involves a joint sharing in the blessings of salvation. But fellowship also is reflected in our giving, our mutual support of the gospel, and our shared efforts to expand the kingdom.

I have known a few Christians, who had to meet in their own homes because no local congregation existed, who laid by in store on the first day of the week as the Lord had prospered them. They kept those monies separate from their own for a long period of time and then gave it to a worthy evangelist, provided for the needs of worthy saints, or merged it with the treasury of a sound church at a later date.

But I wonder whether the typical “I’ll just worship at home” advocate worships the Lord by financial sacrifice. If not, they are not worshiping as instructed by Scripture (1 Cor. 16:1-2; 2 Cor. 8 and 9).

Another disposition that often leads to isolationist worship is the selfish demand that one individual’s judgment in various matters prevail.

If a congregation teaches false doctrine or practices things unauthorized by or condemned by Scriptures, a faithful saint may have to break fellowship with that group. But when matters of human judgment, expediency, or preference are at issue, a faithful Christian dares not divide the body of Christ.

And even if true error is being taught or practiced, a faithful Christian is under obligation to refute the error with biblical teaching, rebuke those who practice such and urge repentance. To do less is to abdicate one’s duty and is a reflection of little love for those perceived to be lost in their sins, James 5:19-20; Gal. 6:1; 2 Tim. 4:1-4.

One wonders whether stay-at-home worshipers believe they don’t need the “effective fervent prayers” of their brethren. We are left to ask whether these brethren feel they are so strong that they don’t need the instruction of Bible classes and sermons. It is seldom that one finds reclusive members growing in faith and spirituality.

If we want to see the church grow, see souls saved, the weak encouraged, we’ll want to worship with the saints each Lord’s Day. If we want to see our children and grandchildren taught, given good examples, and led to faith in Christ, we’ll want to be a part of the worship and service of the Lord.

The church is not unlike links in a chain. A missing link severs the chain and limits its potential use. The apostle Paul used another analogy – that of the human body – showing that each and every part is needed, Eph. 4:15-16; 1 Cor. 12:12-27. And he asserts there should be no schism in the body.

If you absent yourself unnecessarily from the worship of the saints, your brethren miss you. You are failing to do things commanded you by God. You aren’t showing the love and concern for others that you ought, and you are doing yourself harm.

Think about these things.

By – Randy Blackaby, Truth Magazine, Feb. 3, 2005

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