ONLINE CHURCH BULLETIN
ATTENDING WHEN OUT OF TOWN
A great number of Christians have to travel to other places in connection with their jobs. Some Christians travel to visit family or friends. And many travel for recreation or vacation purposes. When members of the Lord's church are away from their home congregation, what about attending services on the first day of the week or during midweek? Some saints of God make it a point to attend services when they are out of town, others are hit-and-miss, and then there are also those that seemingly make no effort to attend services anytime they are away. What can we say to these things?
First, the need for children of God to attend is not restricted to those times when they are home. Acts 20:6-7 records that Paul and those that were traveling with him assembled with the saints in Troas on the first day of the week. Troas was not the "home church" of Paul and his companions, yet when Sunday rolled around they met with other disciples. Consider also the command of Hebrews 10:25: "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching." The charge not to forsake the assembling of God's people applies to all children of God, regardless of their geographic location. To say, "We'll be out of town" does not relieve us of our obligation to worship God! Yea, if God's cause is first in our hearts and lives like it should be, then everybody that is going to be traveling with us, as well as the brethren with whom we normally assemble back home, know full well that even though we are away from home, we will plan to attend services.
Second, when possible, plan ahead. Before leaving home, know where you will try to attend services. Many Christian families have made it a point that they will not purposely travel to any location unless they are sure that they will be able to attend services in that area. We commend them for this approach. Also, planning ahead includes actually finding the location of the meeting place and knowing the service times in advance. Many Christians have had the frustrating experience of missing services or arriving late because they were unsure about service times or the exact location of the building. Planning ahead can help avoid that.
Third, when travelling make every effort to find a sound church. If we would not feel comfortable attending an unsound or questionable church in our own neck of the woods, then why would we "just go anywhere" when we are away from home? We know that there are situations that sometimes arise which can make some matters out of our control. But the rule should be this: before leaving home, I'll try my best to learn where I can attend a sound congregation. "Sound doctrine" (Titus 2:1) is the healthy teaching of the Christ. A sound church is one that adheres to that pure teaching. How can I learn the location of a sound church? Try asking for information and recommendations from sound brethren that you know. Some books are available that list the congregations in a given area. However, it is important that we recognize that those books do not guarantee the soundness of the churches that they list. Do not assume that just because a church is listed in a book, that it must be a good one.
Fourth, when we are away from home, why would we not want to make every effort to attend Bible class as well as worship? Good Bible classes help us to grow (1 Peter 2:2), and that is true whether we are at home or on the road. We send a message to our children and others that travel with us when we skip Bible classes and slide in for the worship assembly. I personally do not understand the logic that says, "We should go to the Bible classes of our home church, but Bible classes are not as important when we are away from home."
Fifth, if you attend services when you are away from home, you may see or hear things that are unscriptural. Many of us have had this unpleasant experience. What to do? It would certainly be appropriate to politely express disappointment in such. It would be good to point out politely to the bishops of the church (or the preacher if there are no elders) just wherein unscriptural action or teaching has taken place. I know that some of our courageous members at Union Grove have done this very thing, pointing out face-to-¬face on the spot what was out of order. Good for them. Some have chosen to return home first, then write a letter to the congregation they attended. That works, too.
Few, if any, members of the church go through their entire Christian life without ever being away from home on a day of the week when they would normally be attending services back home. May we all determine to include the Lord in any future travel plans that we might have. May we all give serious thought to doing what is right in His sight in the matter of attending services. —Roger Campbell (continued from last issue)
—Roger Campbell , Glad Tidings of Good Things, Vol. 14, April 11, 2008, page 3
"Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established." —Proverbs 4:26