Those who admonish us that we “ought to be in church” can claim to be following the Bible. Believers are clearly urged to prioritise fellowship:
And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. Hebrews 10:25 NLT
But does a formal service amount to fellowship?
Those claiming the authority of the church as their high ground to tell others what they “ought” to do with their time and money, have become the modern-day Pharisees and Sadducees Jesus warned us NOT to listen to:
"Watch out!" Jesus warned them. "Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees." Matthew 16:6 NLT
Right there we have a thumbnail of the bigger picture of how church has changed, and how people have voted with their feet.
If we expect an accepting, encouraging “meeting together” in which Jesus presences Himself spiritually — that's not someone with the title and tassels that Jesus explicitly said to avoid, reading from a book, and offering judgment not help.
It’a a very different picture to the relationship and mutuality and Jesus-centredness expressed in this:
On the first day of the week… we were GATHERED TOGETHER to break bread Acts 20:7 ESV
Those who have stepped back from an experience of repeated Sunday morning abuse will all express different reasons, but NOT finding what is spiritually and socially real is a common thread.
Fellowship can easily become cliquey and exclusive.
And creating an expectant space for the Spirit of Jesus to presence Himself, to minister and encourage by speaking to us afresh, turns into exalting man, when the spirit that is ruling is a religious one.
Wherever we are on the journey of faith we all share, we sense what is real and true. And when we discover that a diversion has taken us down a road that leads nowhere — we’ll stop following it.
In the UK 97% of people do not regularly attend church. Jesus wants to show them His Way — with His followers helping them to find it.