Regarding church attendance, this writer questions why any faithful child of God would ever ask such a question as “Do I have to be there?” in the first place. Unless there is a compelling reason that prohibits attendance, where else and with whom else would a child of God want to be than with the saints? (cf. Acts 2:42; Romans 12:9-10; Romans 15:30-32).
We have the obligation to submit ourselves to elders in such matters as attendance for the inspired writer of Hebrews 13:17 says:
“Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.“
The elders are charged with the oversight of the local congregation. They have been given the responsibility to “feed the church of God” (Acts 20:28 KJV), and that “feeding” involves providing the necessary teaching to bring them to spiritual maturity (Ephesians 4:11-13). Thus, when the elders set a day and a time for the church to assemble, the church should assemble in order to be spiritually fed.
From the well-known passage of Hebrews 10:23-25 we read:
“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and to good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.“
Willful absence from any assembly of the congregation of which we are a member serves to discourage those who do attend. That is why the Hebrew writer said, “And let us consider one another to in order to stir up love and good works.”
Let’s ask ourselves, “How does my personal, willful absence from any service that I could have attended indicate that I am thinking about anyone but myself?”
Having said that, how does our “staying home” help us get to heaven, which should be our primary goal? In what way does our staying home, when we honestly and truly could have been at the worship service, serve to “stimulate” our brothers and sisters in Christ “to love and good works”?
Philippians 2:3-8 exhorts us to do the following:
“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.“
After reading and studying the above passages in context, this writer cannot imagine any child of God asking, “Do I have to be there?” Dear fellow saint, can you imagine it?