Well, here it is: the only verse in the entire New Testament that even comes close to being a commandment from God to attend church. We trot it out whenever attendance falls off, hoping no one ever asks for more corroboration because we know there’s no more there. People hardly ever do, so we skate by on that one verse.
Unfortunately for those who would like to enforce church attendance, “the day” has already come and so the admonition no longer applies. (See the Introduction of A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom for posts that make this clear.)
Let’s leave aside for the moment, however, the issue of the coming of the day of the Lord. Even apart from that issue, it is hypocritical of us to announce this scripture as a summons to Sunday worship services at the local church because we do not even obey it ourselves. Here’s why: The scripture says that we should not forsake the assembling of ourselves together. We never do it together; we always do it separately. In any given city, even in small ones, there is a Baptist gathering, a Methodist gathering, a Presbyterian gathering, a Roman Catholic gathering, a Greek Orthodox gathering, a non-denominational gathering, and on and on – sometimes right across the street from each other!
The New Testament church did not divide up this way. When the first sign of fissures began to show, Paul rebuked them strongly (1 Corinthians 1-3). There was one church per city. Has this even been tried in our day? Yes…and to much failure. What then are we to do? Acknowledge that the day of the Lord – the kingdom of God – has come. Thus we should seek the Lord, seek His kingdom – not try to build houses named Ichabod.
At the very least, let us admit that Hebrews 10:25 is not a call to church attendance, but rather an indictment of our disobedience to the Lord who called us to be one. Thus, the Bible verse that is most often used to compel church attendance actually condemns it in our day.
I do not fault the sheep for they merely want to know more about Jesus. We shepherds, however, should know better. We have been wrong to make the sheep choose among us. We should not be calling the sheep to ourselves but rather directing them to Him who is their true Shepherd.