To understand the importance of church attendance, one must understand the purpose of church. Many different ideas are held about what going to church accomplishes. Some think church is to make people feel closer to God. Others think it is about learning to be a better person. Many think church is to teach people how to do what is right. Changing the world, being part of a community and having sins forgiven are other reasons given for being a part of a church. These are all benefits of going to church, but they are not the purpose of church. The church was designed by God for Christians to help them be like Jesus and to give them the tools needed to serve Him in the world. The church is for those who have trusted Jesus for salvation.
Those who are not saved are not commanded to go to church. Frankly, church is going to seem weird and very boring to those who have never turned to Jesus for salvation. Attending church is important for those who are saved, but going to church will not bring salvation. A person can be saved without every having attended a church in his entire life life. A person can attend church faithfully every week for his entire life and never be saved. The church does not save, weekly attendance at church does not save, nor will keeping a special day set apart for the Lord save a person. Church attendance is important as a right response to salvation.
Church attendance is an act of obedience on the part of the Christian. This act of obedience is a little bit more difficult because it is something that requires repeated observance and regular interaction with people who are still far less than perfect. Unlike being baptized, attending church is not a one time event that barely interrupts regular life. Church attendance requires a regular pattern of doing something whether you feel like it or not. Church attendance requires a commitment to a group of people that will offend one another, wound each other and do sinful things to one another.
The sinfulness of the people in church does not justify not attending. Nowhere in the New Testament does church attendance presuppose a perfect church. In fact, an honest reading of the New Testament reveals that church attendance presupposes an imperfect church filled with sinners. The churches in the New Testament were attended by liars, adulterers, narcissists , gossips, divisives, cowards, idlers, complainers, false teachers and stubborn rebels, just to name a few. The church always has been and always will be filled with sinful people of all varieties. Being around perfect people, or people just like ourselves is never the purpose of church attendance.
To get around to answering the question, church attendance is important for several reasons. First, regular attendance at church is commanded for every Christian. The simplest place to show this from is in Hebrews 10:25 where believers are instructed to not forsake the assembly. Church attendance is the obligation of every child of God. Second, church is necessary for growth in Christ. The New Testament has no conception of a mature Christian that is not a part of a church. Instead, every Christian in the New Testament is understood to be a part of a church. The stay at home Christian does not exist in the New Testament. Third, church attendance is the only avenue for obedient service to the body of Christ. The New Testament is full of commands instruction Christians how to treat one another. The New Testament is full of commands to serve the local body of Christ. These commands cannot be obeyed apart from the regular gathering with other believers. Last, the church assembly is the gathering of God’s children whom He loves. Those who love God will love God’s children. (1 John 4:20-21) Ignoring, forsaking and avoiding God’s children cannot possibly be defined as love for the brethren. Church attendance will the natural response of all those in Christ who love His children.