The Lord’s Day assembly of the church was authorized by Christ, set in motion by the apostles, honored by disciples of all ages, and fully recognized as a sacred obligation for all Christians by the inspired writer of the book of Hebrews (10:25).
The assembly is an indispensable part of Christianity with at least a three-fold purpose. It allows Christians to worship God in a corporate capacity (Jn. 4:24), it is a source of mutual edification among Christians (1 Cor. 14), and it provides mutual exhortation necessary for Christians to maintain their faithfulness (Heb. 10:24; Cf. 3:13).
Note the connection between “forsaking the assembling of ourselves together” and the “sin” of apostasy in Hebrews 10:26. The author of Hebrews repeatedly points out the dangers of falling away (2:1-4; 3:12-14; 6:1-8), and forsaking the assembly is regarded as a visible sign of such apostasy.
At the time of the writing of Hebrews, however, some were already abandoning the assembly for various reasons, including persecution from Jews which tempted disciples to forsake Christianity altogether and to return to some form of Judaism (Cf. chapters 7-9; 12:4; 13:9ff).
In addition to this abandonment, the assemblies also suffered from misuse and abuse in the early church. The Corinthian church perverted the assembly by making a common meal of the communion (1 Cor. 10-11). They also abused the spiritual gifts they had received and were using them in the assembly in such a way as to cause confusion and chaos at the expense of edification (1 Cor. 12-14).
Since that time the assembly has continued to suffer abuse, de-emphasis, and abandonment in many different forms. Christians continue to quit the church completely for various reasons and their absence from the assembly is a tangible sign of their apostasy. Most churches also have their share of Sunday-Morning-Only Christians—Christians who feel compelled to assemble on Lord’s Day morning, but who do not understand the privilege and benefits of participating in other assemblies.
Other abuses have resulted from the belief that the apostles’ doctrine, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayers (Acts 2:42) are no longer effective as an agenda for worship, and that Sunday School or “children’s church” are more relevant and understandable, and often more entertaining, especially for children. The proponents of this practice believe that young people should be separated from their parents when they enter the church doors on Sunday morning, and go to services or classes with their peers while their parents participate in the main worship without them. There are a variety of similar scenarios where the bottom line is that in many churches the family does not worship together. Proponents of this practice argue that young people will be more likely to stick with the church over their lifetime if it is geared more to them when they are young. However, hard evidence shows today that they are mistaken.
Religious education expert James W. Write says that studies reveal children who worship regularly with their parents are more likely to worship consistently as adults than children who grow up primarily attending Sunday School or children’s church (Religious Education Press).
Some churches are finally recognizing what is the irony of splitting up already fragmented and overstressed families on Sunday morning. Some of these churches have begun a movement to change course and bring families together for worship, and yet they continue to run into resistant parents who believe it is the Sunday School’s job, not their job, to teach their children the truth of the Bible.
Host of “It Takes A Parent,” radio show on WYLL in Chicago comments on the above dilemma by saying, “It’s ironic to me that some of the very same people who are adamant that they should be integrally involved in their child’s secular education want to leave the child’s religious education entirely up to the church experts. But since no one loves or lives with our kids like we do, this has to be our job more than anyone else’s. We churchgoing parents of every stripe need to be sitting down with our children on a regular basis and teaching them the doctrines of our faith (not just Bible stories) so they can absorb more of the lessons they learn in the worship service. We need to be praying with and for them. We need to not just be living out our faith at home, but talking to our children about it.”
You talk about a couple of novel ideas! Experts have decided that it is more profitable to keep the assembly of the church undivided, parents and children together, while the body is being edified, and that parents ought also to teach their own children at home. Of course, that is precisely the pattern God designed for us in the beginning. The church is to assemble “in one and the same place; at the same time, together” (1 Cor. 14:23; 1 Cor. 11:18; Heb. 10:25), for corporate worship, mutual edification, and exhortation, and parents are to teach their own children at home (Eph. 6:4; Deut. 6:6-9).
Article by: Carl Johnson