Question:

Dear Sir,

I have not been attending church services regularly for about two years. I'm a baptized believer and had been attending a church of Christ. My reasons for not going were due to a lot of different things, but these don't excuse my absence.

I've recently started going back but I am confused about what the right protocol is. Do I have to replace my membership? Do I need to go up front and confess that I was not attending? Am I allowed to take the Lord's Supper if I don't go up in front of the church?

I'm confused about a lot of the Scriptures, especially with these questions. I was told you do not even have to go to church to be saved. Is that true?

While this is no excuse to not go up in front of the church, my mental issues and shy timid personality consumed with anxiety hinders me from doing so. I personally have not sinned while not attending so I just need clarity on the right thing to do.

Thank you so much.

Answer:

Allow me to start with the question about whether attendance is required for a Christian. You seem to understand that you are supposed to attend, but someone claimed that it isn't necessary. Whoever it was who told you this doesn't know his Bible well. "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near" (Hebrews 10:23-25). Some might make a habit of skipping services, but God expects us to attend both for our encouragement to remain faithful and to be available to encourage others to live righteously. Therefore, you were breaking a law of God by not worshipping with your brethren.

In addition, there are commands that only be fulfilled in a meeting of the church, such as the sharing of the Lord's Supper (I Corinthians 10:16-17) and the singing to one another (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16). By not being with the saints, you neglected these commands as well.

But the wonderful news is that you've changed and that you are attending once more. I would argue that your attendance demonstrates your repentance. But you will find many brethren believe that more is needed, though they will not be able to cite a passage to prove it. Sometimes the easiest way to keep the peace is to tell people that you know that not attending was wrong and that you have changed. If you have trouble talking to the congregation directly, ask the elders if you can write something out for one of them to read on your behalf.

In regards to your membership at the congregation, you had not been a member there for two years, so it would be proper to ask if you might be considered a member once again. You could make it a part of the letter to the group and deal with both issues at once.

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