Today, more and more people are just concerned about their own wellbeing without caring much about society, family, or other groups of people. This may also influence Christians and their relation to the church. On the other hand, people like to meet in clubs, pubs, at sporting events, etc. because humans are sociable beings. But is it necessary to attend church?
I. JESUS AND HIS CHURCH
• At the time of Jesus, Jews met every Sabbath in the synagogue for worship (Acts 15:21). It was Jesus’ custom to go to “church” regularly on Sabbath (Luke 4:18).
• Jesus established the church. The church is a group of believers who follows Jesus, believes what Jesus believed, and does things together (Matt. 16:18).
• Christians are also called His “flock.” This term implies that Jesus’ disciples are not only isolated believers but form a group that meets, listens to God’s Word, prays, proclaims the gospel, etc. Without meeting, sharing a common message, and being involved in a common task, there is no “flock” or church (John 10:16).
• Sometimes the local congregations may be small, but
where two or three are assembled in the name of Jesus, He has
promised to be with them (Matt. 18:20).
Jesus emphasized the ordinance of footwashing (John
13:14, 15), instituted the Lord’s Supper (Luke 22:19, 20), and
gave the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18–20). All of this requires
a church and believers who meet regularly—particularly on Sabbaths—to
worship God and serve humanity.
II. THE PRACTICE OF THE EARLY CHURCH
• After Jesus’ ascension to heaven, the believers met in Jerusalem (Acts 1:15).
• While together, they experienced the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1).
• Those who accepted the gospel were baptized and added to the church. Baptism involves living with the community and family of Christ—His church (Acts 2:41; 5:14).
• They enjoyed regular fellowship (Acts 2:42, 46).
• While Peter was imprisoned, the church was praying for
him and a miracle occurred (Acts 12:5).
III. PAUL AND THE CHURCH
• Paul went to the synagogue on Sabbath (Acts 13:14, 42).
• On Sabbath, Paul and his companions were looking for an outdoor gathering place for communal prayer. (Acts 16:13).
• It was Paul’s custom to attend worship services on Sabbath (Acts 17:2).
• This was also an opportunity to discuss and teach Christian beliefs (Acts 18:4).
• The Bible contains a clear admonition to meet together.
Christians cannot be people who live in isolation, unless they find
themselves in a place with no other believers. To meet is necessary
in order to encourage, comfort, and strengthen each other;
learn from each other; be more and more grounded in the Lord
and His message; and be prepared to do what He calls His disciples
to do (Heb. 10:25).
IV. CHRISTIANS MEETING OVER THE CENTURIES
Church history reveals that over the centuries Christians
maintained that they needed to meet on a regular basis. Even
when persecuted, Christians did not give up assembling for worship
and other purposes. They may have fled to other places
(Acts 8:1, 4). The Waldenses moved to remote places in the
Alps; others went underground. Christians, Adventists among
them, met regularly.
It was very well understood that it is not optional to form a
fellowship of believers in order to meet as a church.
V. ADVENTISTS AND THEIR MEETINGS
Adventists meet on the biblical Sabbath to study and worship.
They believe it is necessary to have a Bible study session
in which believers and guests can learn, share their experiences,
ask questions, make meaningful comments, and prepare for their
ministry. Jesus opened the Scriptures on Sabbath morning and
shared. Paul taught and discussed the gospel with people on the
In addition, the Adventist Church devotes time to hearing God’s
message preached in a sermon, singing and praying to the Lord,
thanking Him for His guidance, and bringing tithes and offerings.
However, the life of the church is not totally expressed by
meetings on Sabbath. There are other meetings and activities on
other days of the week. Some churches have official prayer meetings,
meetings for Pathfinders and youth, meetings for women
and men, social meetings, etc. In addition, larger churches may
have small groups that meet for Bible study and prayer during the
week and for various other purposes. To join them can be very
A Christian in deliberate isolation is an oxymoron. Believers
in Jesus Christ form His church. They refrain from thinking just
about themselves. They form a larger community—a fellowship
and family that lives for the common good, shares the wonderful
gospel entrusted to it, and reaches out to those having all kinds
Ekkehardt Mueller is an associate director for the Biblical Research
Institute at the General Conference World Headquarters. This article has
been reprinted, by permission, from Reflections, the BRI Newsletter.