Dear Church Family,
The third section of our newly adopted church covenant reads: “We will not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, nor neglect to pray for ourselves and one another.” In a way, it might be helpful to view this section as the other side of the coin for the previous statement. The second statement affirmed what we will do to love one another as church members and now this third statement lists the denials of what we won’t do because of that love. Let’s think about the three parts of this statement in turn.
1) We will not forsake the assembling of ourselves together.
Since the days of the early church, there have always been those who claim to be Christians yet decide they don’t need to assemble together with the church. This is certainly prevalent in our day with books and blogs being written about how to be a Christian without going to church. Now is not the time to list all of the reasons to support such a lifestyle, but our local church has committed itself not to go down that path. Why? Is it because this just happens to be our opinion? No, rather we are seeking to uphold the commandment of Scripture. Consider the words of Hebrews 10:23-25: “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
In fact, John talks in a sobering way about those who have forsaken gathering together with the church in 1 John 2:19, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.” In other words, this is no small matter. God has indeed saved us as individuals, but in so doing He has also intentionally brought us into a family. Disciplining ourselves to assemble ourselves together with the other members of our local church won’t always be easy. We all have times in which it is not convenient for us to do so. There will also be times when we simply don’t feel like it. Nevertheless, we must trust the Lord’s wisdom in commanding this and know that it is for our good, as well as the good of the whole body.
Just as word of qualification, we have many members who are unable to regularly gather with us due to health reasons. Those who are genuinely hindered in this way have not forsaken the assembly—their hearts long to be with us, but their bodies won’t allow it. I am so thankful for so many of you who intentionally go to these brothers and sisters in order to encourage them since they aren’t able to come to us. God is gracious and He will sustain them through these trials, but we must be diligent to remember them and share their burdens as we are able.
2) We will not neglect to pray for ourselves.
Why would this be included in our church covenant? This assumes each one of our personal prayer lives affects the health of our whole body. Therefore, we demonstrate our love for our church by praying faithfully for ourselves. We each know ourselves better than anyone else which means each of us is uniquely enabled to pray specifically for our own needs. Of course, our prayers should follow the example of the Scriptures in what we pray, how we pray, and why we pray. As we grow here, we seek our own health which shows our love for the church as we contribute toward its health.
3) We will not neglect to pray for one another.
In the same vein, we are to seek to love, know, and care for one another through prayer. We are called to pray for everyone just as we are called to love everyone, but as church members we are also committed to pray specifically for the members of our local church just as a husband is called to love his wife specifically. Again, this communicates that we are all in this fight of faith together. As a starting place, let me encourage you to pray through the pages of our directory. If you prayed for the members on one page each day, you would pray through our directory once each month. In addition to this, decide to gather with us on Sunday nights where we have the opportunity to learn more about one another in order that we might pray better for each other. The more we pray for one another, the more we will love and care for one another. And by this, the world will know that we are Christ’s disciples.