Close Your Church for Good, Chap 4, Sec 1. I finally begin to share some practical ways you can close your church for good. The suggestion in chapter 4 is to cancel your church service.
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If your church is going to die, you’ve got to go for the guttural. Strike without fear. Make sure the first blow is the only blow. Aim for the center. One bullet; one kill. The heart of the typical church is the Sunday morning service. If you want to kill your church, the best place to begin is by cancelling the church service.
I can already hear the Bible pages beginning to turn, so let’s face the music and deal head-on with a favorite verse of pastors who are trying to boost Sunday attendance.
Do Not Forsake the Assembling
Generally, when someone suggests that Christians don’t need to attend church, a pastor or other church leader is quick to quote Hebrews 10:25. This verse warns believers against forsaking the assembling of themselves together. But let’s be clear. Nowhere does the passage say how often believers should meet, where, or with whom. Nor does the text does state what should be done when they meet, other than encourage one another. Aside from this, it is questionable whether the passage can directly be applied to believers today since the original recipients of the letter were former Jews who were now being pressured through persecution to return to the customs and laws of Judaism.
Which raises an interesting possibility. The word that the author uses in Hebrews 10:25 for “assembling together” is episunagōgē, which could possibly be an allusion to the Jewish Synagogue. Maybe the author is telling his readers that even though they face persecution at the Synagogue, they should continue to go. It is just as likely, of course, that these Jewish believers in Jesus had started their own “Christian Synagogue” patterned after the Jewish traditions, and it was this they should not abandon, even in the face of persecution (cf. Jas 2:2; 5:14). If either of these theories are true, we must be careful about using the verse to guilt people into “coming to church.”
Having said this, however, I do not believe the verse is referring to a synagogue. The word used in Hebrews 10:25 is also used in 2 Thessalonians 2:1 where Paul is writing about the ingathering of believers for the Day of the Lord, after which time we will spend eternity with Jesus. Many take the term in 2 Thessalonians 2:1 as a reference to the rapture, but this is not necessarily so. Instead, this word (like the term for “church,” ekklēsia) refers not to a time and place where believers gather together on a regular basis for singing and sermons, but rather to the activity of God in gathering together a people for Himself to accomplish His will. Therefore, both 2 Thessalonians 2:1 and Hebrews 10:25 remind believers that God has gathered the church out of the world for a purpose. Some people are in the habit of forsaking this purpose, and this we must not do.
So what does Hebrews 10:25 teach? It is telling believers to fulfill their God-given purpose, and encourage others to do the same. And what is this purpose? Each person has their own unique purpose in God’s plan, but the general purpose of us all is to live life and love others like Jesus. Sitting in a building for two hours on Sunday morning may not be the best way to accomplish this purpose. This may be helpful for some, but not for all. To allow people to fulfill their purpose, we must set them free from the manmade requirement of “attending church.” One way to do this is simply to cancel the church service.