Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 1, 1967
NUMBER 5, PAGE 7b-8a

What Is The Answer?

Thomas F. Shropshire

We have pondered the question over and over: Why does a considerable percent of brethren everywhere, attend only one service a week? There must be an answer to the question - a reason for such a practice. We wish to examine some possible answers with the view of appealing to at least a few, to attend all of the services.

1. This service (the one they attend) is the only one which is important. This is possibly the answer as far as many are concerned. We are not suggesting that there is no relative difference in the importance of services. But when we admit that there is a relative difference in the importance of services, it could not be construed that we are admitting that any of them are unimportant.

If some feel that the services, other than the one they attend, are unimportant, where did they get the idea? Somewhere, somehow, we have come up with the phrase "worship services" to designate the service or services in which the Lord's supper is observed, and to distinguish them from the rest of the services. This phrase is applied to the Lord's day services, morning and evening, in which the Lord's supper is observed. Those who attend only one service, attend one or the other of these two. Why do they attend only one of these? The answer is obvious. They feel that the Lord's supper makes this "worship", and since it is necessary to eat the Lord's supper only once a week, it is therefore necessary to attend only one "worship service" a week.

These things raise other questions. If the services other than those in which the Lord's supper is observed are not "worship services", what kind of services are they and what are they for? And if they are not important, what makes them unimportant? In all of these services, the word of God is taught. Is teaching (or being taught) the word of God unimportant? Mt. 15:9 necessarily infers that teaching the word of God constitutes worship. In some of these services prayer is engaged in. Is prayer unimportant? Does prayer constitute worship? Who is ready to deny that it does? In some of these services there is singing of spiritual songs. Is this unimportant? Does this constitute worship?

When we come together in a service, if we respect the authority of God's word, we will do only that which is authorized in God's word. Everything we have mentioned is authorized to be done when we come together. What is the purpose in engaging in these things? We are taught to, "as newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:" 1 Pet 2:2, and to "grow in grace, and in knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." 2 Pet.3:18. Paul says, in Eph. 4:15 that we, by "speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ." The design of these services is to edify and build all of us up spiritually. Is it important that we be thus built up? Attending, to be thus built up, is at least a part of working out our own salvation, as we are commanded in Phil.2:12.

It is evident that many have not seen the connection between attending services, other than those in which the Lord's supper is observed, and their salvation. Why are people sometimes not baptized, even though they believe Jesus Christ to be the Son of God? The answer is obvious. It is because they do not believe baptism to be essential to their salvation. It is also obvious that some who do not attend some services, absent themselves because they do not believe such attendance to be essential to their salvation. One who does believe such attendance to be essential to their salvation will attend all the services unless they are prevented by circumstances from doing so.

2. It is because they do not have the time to attend. This may be the answer as far as some are concerned. But in most cases, this is no more than a "lame" excuse. It is hardly possible to arrange the services so none of them will conflict with necessary activities of some members. This is why the Lord's supper is offered both morning and evening on the Lord's day. However, this arrangement is used by many as a matter of convenience, when actually they are not prevented from attending any service by necessary activities. This would not be a significant factor if all would attend every service they could attend.

3. It is because of illness. As far as a few are concerned, this is a legitimate answer. But when we see some who are present in every service, in spite of various physical handicaps, it should put to shame many who give this answer. There are times when any of us may be prevented by illness from attending services, including those in which the Lord's supper is observed. But it does not seem reasonable that we would be able to attend one service a week regularly and unable to attend any other, because of illness.

4. It is because they are disinterested. It is hardly likely that anyone is going to offer this as a reason for their not attending services. But this is one of the best answers we have considered. This condition complicates the possibility of reaching many with the truth about attendance or a lack of it.

Many, who attend only one service a week, are too unconcerned to pay much attention to the teaching which is done in this service. These are the ones who will not generally read an article which is long enough to fully consider any subject. They are generally disinterested in the advancement of the cause of Christ and the accomplishment of that which God designed the church to accomplish. They are unconcerned about their own spiritual growth, to say nothing of the spiritual welfare of others. These people will talk like they are interested in these things but will do little to help make the attendance what it should be.

These are not "mean" people who are generally ungodly or morally corrupt. They are really nice folks to be around. But to be around them, except one service a week, you must go see them. But how can one appeal to someone when they have little or no interest in such an appeal. This is one question for which we have no answer. The only thing which we can do is to make the appeal and let them make whatever disposition of it which they may.

The thing most churches are experiencing in this day and time, is to see most everyone present for the "worship service" on Sunday morning. We have a wonderful service and remarks are heard about the good attendance. But on Sunday evening and at midweek service, the audience looks about as scattering as a covey of quail several days after hunting season has opened.

If every service could be like the Sunday morning "worship service", as far as attendance is concerned, we would be amazed at the difference it would make in the success of the work of the church.