[The following is excerpted from the book, Gather: Getting to the Heart of Going to Church, Copyright © 2021 by M. Hopson Boutot. Click here to download the entire book for free.]
Last week on the blog we established works of necessity and works of mercy as the two categories of reasons to miss gathering with God’s people. Let’s begin putting it all together.
Let me suggest three simple questions to help you decide whether its right for you to miss church this Sunday. Let’s begin with the reason why you’re considering missing. A day on the boat? Travel? Sickness? Sleeping in? An extra shift at work? A picnic in the park? A ballgame? Once you’ve got your reason in mind, ask yourself these three questions.
Question One: Can it be rescheduled to another day? If the answer is yes, reschedule it and go to church. If no, move on to question two.
Question Two: Is it a work of necessity? Just remember what we mean by necessity. Not “I need to go fishing today because I haven’t been in ages!” More like, “If I don’t do this thing it will significantly harm myself or my neighbor” (see Fisher and Turretin above). If the answer is yes, you are free to miss church without guilt or shame. If no, move on to question three.
Question Three: Is it a work of mercy? Are you meeting your neighbor’s serious and urgent need in such a way that you are unable to gather with God’s people? Are you sure that this cannot be rescheduled to another day? If the answer to both questions is yes, you are free to miss church without guilt or shame.