Over and again, I hear people give reasons for not coming to church, and usually they entail to things like this: “I don’t like the music, it’s too old fashioned/too new,” “I don’t recognize it any more,” “the preacher’s too charismatic/too boring” “It’s too loud/quiet” “I don’t like the way they do things,” and much the same along these lines. If we’re being quite honest with ourselves (which often, we’re not), there’s only a handful (if even that) of reasons to not gather with the Church or to leave a congregation, but the majority of the ones we pick have nothing to do with how Scriptural a congregation is, but rather a matter of our tastes, comfort, and how they make us feel. The only reasons I truly believe that one should miss gathering together (as it is commanded in both the Old and New Testaments) is if the congregation is not the Scriptural Church (measure it against Scripture, not tradition or taste), or if your health keeps you from going out. Otherwise, we should seek to gather, and gather often!
In the west, many of us look toward tradition and taste, but in India, many countries in Africa and the Middle East, China, and other parts of the world where following Christ is forbidden or oppressed, the true Church gathers on muddy floors, risks imprisonment and death to gather, and seeks to find Christ through the Bible wherever it can. They look after one another, and love one another as Christ commanded. They seek sound doctrine and to be as close to Christ as they possibly can. Loved ones, we have to stop looking at nostalgia, tradition, personal ambition (am I getting my way or not) and taste as the measure of a congregation, but how they follow and pursue Christ, honor and teach the Scriptures, and how they seek to be the Church that Christ calls them to be through the Scriptures.
The Church is to be a people who are so radically different than the World, following the Great Commandment, to love the Lord our God with all our Heart, mind, soul and strength, and loving our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:35-40), while actively making a lifestyle of the Great Commission: to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all of Christ’s commands, and fixing our eyes on Him who has all authority on heaven and on earth and is with us always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:16-20; this is a run on sentence if ever there was one, but if Paul can do it, so can I!). There are very few reasons to not gather with the Church, make sure that you’re using the proper viewpoint when choosing not to!
But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 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.