What do you do when a friend who was formerly a very active Christian and who was growing in the things of God suddenly begins to show evidence that he or she is wandering? Suddenly, the dialogue has less about Christ in it; suddenly, behaviours that the individual formerly shunned are becoming part of his or her life. The person doesn't share anything about what he is learning about God. The person does not sound like she has a spiritual vocabulary at all any longer. Church attendance has dropped, and every excuse in the book is given. While frail old ladies make it up the stairs of the church to worship, our friend uses every illness and circumstance to justify lack of church attendance.
When you love your friend, these things are worrisome. We all go through spiritual dryness at times, but I think when worship becomes a hit and miss thing, there is reason to be even more worried. God is worthy of our worship. Yes, worship at home is okay, but absence from church life means there is no accountability, no fellowship, no vehicle for service.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones, in his book Faith on Trial, talks about the need to think spiritually. One of the ways he suggests in cultivating spiritual thinking is to worship with the people of God in the house of God:
What a wonderful place God's house is. Often you will find deliverance by merely coming in. Many a time have I thanked God for His house. I thank God that He has ordained that His people should meet together in companies, and worship together. The house of God has delivered me from 'the mumps and measles of the soul' a thousand times and more - merely by entering its doors. How does it work? I think it works like this. The very fact that there is a house of God to come to at all tells us somethiing. How has it come into being? It is God who planned and arranged it. To realize that in itself puts us immediately into a more healthy condition. Then we begin to go back through history, and remind ourselves of certain truths. Here am I at this present time with this terrible problem, but the Christian Church has existed all these long years. (I am already beginning to think in an entirely different way) The house of God goes back through the centuries to the time of our Lord Himself. What is it for? What is its significance? And the cure has begun
Again, we go to the house of God, and to our amazement we find other people there before us. We are rather surprised at that, because in our private misery and perplexity we had come to the conclusion that perhaps there ws nothing in religion at all, and that it was not worth continuing with it. But here are people who think it is worth contining with; and we feel better. We begin to say: Perhaps I may be wrong; all these people think there is something in it; they may be right. The healing process is going on, the cure is being continued.
There are many reasons why people stop attending church. Often the reasons are legitimate, but often, they have more to do with the person's heart than anything else. I've been there. When I have had spiritual dryness in my life, or I am grumbling and feeling self-centered, church is the last place I want to be.
It's easy to avoid reading the Bible alone in our homes. There are so many other distractions. But attending church means we will be confronted with the reading of His Word. We will be confronted by other worshippers. Attending church is not the substance of our faith, but a complete lack of it may be a sign that there is a problem.