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.
—Hebrews 10:24–25

Today the local church is under vicious attack. And not just from those outside the church but also from those within the church. In fact, what is deeply disturbing to me about recent attacks on the church from within is they’re coming from Christian leaders. One pastor wrote, “Sitting down with a friend over coffee is every bit as spiritual as going to church together. The casual setting provides just as great an opportunity for supernatural influence as being in church does—and often even more.” Now, if there is no more value to going to church than sitting down with a friend for coffee, then why in the world would you get up and go through the hassle of coming to church on Sunday morning? Why would you give sacrificially to the church if it’s not doing any more to advance the kingdom of God than the local Starbucks? With leaders discouraging the church like that, it’s no wonder that church attendance continues to decline. George Barna predicts, “In just a few years, we will see that millions of people will never travel physically to a church but will instead roam the Internet in search of meaningful spiritual experiences.” Apparently that’s all right with Barna since he believes the essence of Christianity is the development of people’s character. Spiritual transformation or even intimate worship, he says, does not require worship service but a personal commitment to the spiritual disciplines.

How contrary that is to what the Word of God teaches. In Hebrews 10:24-25 the writer says, “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.” Spiritual development, even our own spiritual development, doesn’t take place just in a vacuum. We need the stimulation, the encouragement that comes from other believers.

But I have to be the first to admit that local churches do have some serious flaws. I can identify with Mark Buchanan, who writes, “I assume you’re like me. I can get itchy skinned and scratchy throated after an hour or so of church. I can get distracted and cranky when it goes too long. My feet ache. My backside numbs. My eyes glaze over. My mind fogs. My belly growls. I find myself fighting back yawns. And I’m the pastor.” We all identify with that. But you know, those who would write off the church as an antiquated organization that needs to be replaced by a new paradigm forget one important fact. The church was created by God. The local church is God’s idea. It is His way of fulfilling His mission. He is the one who came up with the composition, the organization, the polity, the priority of the church.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “America’s Last Hope” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2011.

Dwight Edwards, “Releasing the Rivers Within” (New York: Crown, 2013); George Barna, “The Second Coming of the Church” (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1988), 65; Mark Buchanan, “Things Unseen” (Colorado Springs: Multnomah, 2002), 66.

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.