In this post I’m going to cover 9 powerful reasons why we should attend our church meetings in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Most meetings can now occur virtually or safely in person, as local conditions allow under the direction of the bishop.
When I was about 10 years old, I remember a Sunday in which my parents weren’t feeling well on a Sunday. They said to me, “Dad and I are going to stay home from Church today. But you’ve been baptized, and you can make your decision. If you want, you can walk to Church with your older sister.” At first, it seemed tempting to stay at home and play. But I could feel some kind of pull within me to go to church.
So, my sister and I went. I remember others asking where our parents were and proudly boasting that we came by ourselves. When we left Church that day, I remember viewing it a little different than I had ever done before. It was more than feeling like a big kid. I felt such joy and peace in choosing to go. I remember thinking, that I wanted to always be there each Sunday no matter what.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and church meetings were suspended for a period of time, I think it was a true test to shift towards more of a home centered and church supported lifestyle.
David A. Bednar Taught
“We cannot expect simply to attend Church meetings and participate in programs and thereby receive all of the spiritual edification and protection that will enable us ‘to withstand in the evil day.’5
The ultimate missionary training center is in our homes; secondary missionary training centers are located in Provo, Manila, Mexico City, and in other locations. Our most instructive Sunday School classes should be our individual and family study in our places of residence; helpful but secondary Sunday School classes are held in our meetinghouses.
Family history centers now are in our homes. Supplemental support for our family history research work also is available in our meetinghouses.
Vital temple preparation classes occur in our homes; important but secondary temple preparation classes also may be conducted periodically in our meetinghouses.
Making our homes sanctuaries wherein we can “stand in holy places” is essential in these latter days. And as important as home-centered and Church-supported learning is for our spiritual strength and protection today, it will be even more vital in the future. (Prepare To Obtain Every Needful Thing)
Interesting to note, that we don’t need to choose between home-centered church or attendance of church. But we are encouraged to do both. Just going to church will not be enough. Nor is it OK to just have “Home Church” and not attend our meetings. Recently The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has provided updated guidelines to help Church leaders and members safely increase engagement in worship and other activities during the COVID-19 pandemic. They encouraged us to
- Remember members by name and nourish them spiritually (see Moroni 6:4–5)
- Strengthen members and help bear their burdens (see Mosiah 18:1–11; Doctrine and Covenants 20:47, 59)
- Uplift one another and create unity through activities (see Mosiah 18:21; Doctrine and Covenants 121:9)
In addition to their council here are 9 reasons why you should be attending your church meetings.
1. Attending church meetings is a commandment with a blessing
I met someone who shared with me her thoughts on the importance of church meetings. When we started having meetings virtually and limited in person attendance in our area, she didn’t attend. She had a young family and said they got more out of just doing their own home church rather than watching it via zoom.
When her temple recommend expired and she went in to her interview, this question really struck her: “Do you strive to keep the Sabbath day holy, both at home and at church; attend your meetings; prepare for and worthily partake of the sacrament; and live your life in harmony with the laws and commandments of the gospel?” (Temple Interview Questions).
She reflected on “do you…attend your meetings.” She realized that although Sacrament meeting and 2nd hour meetings were available via zoom, that she wasn’t having her family attend. She also realized that the “Home Church” she was doing, she could continue to do in addition to attending these meetings. Even after holding a temple for years, She honestly answered this question to the Stake President with a no and a commitment to repent.
Attending our Church meetings can help us to become more obedient to the Lord’s commandments. Church meetings help enlarge our talents, increase our knowledge of gospel doctrines and principles, and develop greater faith and testimony. They strengthen our ties with friends and neighbors who will support us in living righteously. They draw us closer to our Father in Heaven and Jesus our Savior. They help us to have the Lord’s Spirit. The Savior has promised that “where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).
From Preach My Gospel, our missionaries teach that revelation and testimony come when we attend our Sunday Church meetings: “As we attend Church services and worship together, we strengthen each other. We are renewed by our association with friends and family. Our faith is strengthened as we study the scriptures and learn more about the restored gospel.”8
Elder Kevin S. Hamilton taught: “We each have many choices to make as to how we observe the Sabbath day. There will always be some “good” activity that can and should be sacrificed for the better choice of Church meeting attendance. This is in fact one of the ways that the adversary “cheateth [our] souls, and leadeth [us carefully] away.” He uses “good” activities as substitutes for “better” or even “best” activities.
Continually holding fast to the rod means that whenever possible we attend our Sunday meetings: sacrament meeting, Sunday School, and priesthood or Relief Society meetings. Our children and youth attend their respective meetings in Primary, Young Men, and Young Women. We should never pick or choose which meetings we attend. We simply hold fast to the word of God by worshipping and attending our Sabbath meetings.” (Continually Holding Fast)
As one of His Ten Commandments, God commanded that we keep the Sabbath day holy (see Exodus 20:8–11). One of the ways we keep this commandment is to meet together on Sundays to worship God and give Him thanks. We are also strengthened when we are around other believers, see their faith, and hear their experiences and testimonies.
2. The Sacrament Helps us to remember Jesus
When Jesus taught the Nephites the purpose of the sacrament and how to partake of it, He said, “And I give unto you a commandment that ye shall do these things [take the bread and water]” (3 Nephi 18:12).
“The Church directs the holding of weekly sacrament meetings in all its organized units. These are the most solemn and sacred meetings in the Church. Their purpose is to enable the saints to renew their covenants by partaking of the sacrament; to receive instruction in the doctrines of the kingdom; to worship the Almighty in song, prayer, and sermon” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. , 661).
3. You Make us a Better Church
In the Bible, the Apostle Paul compared the church to a body, with Jesus as the head. He said for a body to work, every member is important and must do its part (see Ephesians 4:16). Participating in church and offering your time and talents will improve and strengthen both you and the people around you.
4. Church services teach and uplift
When I was a young child, I thought that Church meetings dragged on. I remember dreading the long sacrament meeting. Until one Sunday, my mom invited me to sing with her out of the hymn book. I began singing with her and others in the congregation and felt such a joyous feeling. I began looking forward to each time we sang. Eventually I started getting more out of what the speakers were sharing. I felt my own testimony begin to grow.
What we learn at church gives us guidance on how to follow God, improve our spirituality, and live better lives. You can be uplifted by fellow believers and by the opportunity to serve and worship. You can also feel the Holy Spirit who brings “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, [and] faith” (Galatians 5:22).
“One of the ways I hear Him is through listening to the faith building stories of others. I love testimony meetings on the first Sunday of the month because they are filled with experiences of how people have felt the hand of God touch their lives, seen miracles, or been converted to the Savior. These experiences bolster my faith and remind me of my own conversion experiences.”
Ali – Palo Alto, CA
5. You gain a sense of belonging
Last year I had the life changing opportunity to go back and visit where I served my mission in Salvador Brazil. I arrived to the chapel of one of the wards I had served in, and people came running up to the windows pointing and gasping. They couldn’t believe that I had returned.
I saw converts, friends, and people I taught. I wept and laughed with them. It was a wonderful experience. Once the church meetings ended, I expected everyone to leave and head home. But no one did. They all stayed for a baptismal service. After the baptism, talks, several musical numbers, and a cake, I expected us to leave, but instead they pulled out meals and had a potluck type of lunch. Families stayed, ate, and interacted with one another. Then they split up into additional classes, talked about ministering and those in the area that were in need. After about 5-6 hours, I was one of the first people to leave.
I couldn’t believe how much time the members were spending with each other on a Sunday. But I learned something from it, to them, Church was more than a place of worship on Sunday. It meant belonging to a community.
Church is a community where we can socialize and support each other. You can make friends, feel a sense of belonging, and build a support network that you can rely on. The church community helps us to “mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort” (Mosiah 18:9).
6. God can speak to you
I knew a man that lost his son and his wife. They had tragically died. He was inconsolable. He found himself in the streets of Las Vegas, gambling and drinking away what money he had left. He found himself with nothing, with no hope left to live.
He pulled a pistol out one day to end his life, but couldn’t bring himself to do it. He prayed to God that day “I’m such a coward, I can’t even find the courage to take my own life! Dear God, I don’t want to live, please take my life! I can’t do it. Please take it!”
He had the words enter his mind accompanied by a feeling a peace. “Go to the bus stop.” He know that God was answering his prayers!
He made his way to the bus stop unsure what the plan was. Perhaps, he wondered, God would have him be hit by the bus in answer to his prayer.
He stood at the bus stop not certain what to do. When a bus arrived, that same voice returned giving him instruction.
“Get on the bus.”
He entered on the bus and sat anxiously for some time. Uncertain what was going to happen. After several stops, the voice returned to his mind “Get off here.”
He stepped off the bus and found himself across the street from a church building of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“Oh no!” He thought, “Not a Church! This isn’t what I was asking for! I can’t go into a Church.”
The voice responded “In there you’ll hear my voice.”
The words struck him to the center and played over and over in his mind. “In there you’ll hear my voice.” He had every objection there could be. He wasn’t dressed for church. He didn’t feel comfortable at a church. He had never visited this church before. He didn’t know anyone. He was just thinking of suicided. But the words kept playing back in his mind. He knew that he would hear God’s voice in there. He walked across the street, Took a deep breath, and walked into the building.
I met him less than two weeks after this experience. He was baptized shortly after that and has shared this stories to hundreds of people with his testimony that we truly do hear God’s voice at Church.
You can find answers at church. Maybe you’re struggling with a specific question or need some direction in your life. Maybe you just need to feel God’s love and know that He is there. As you listen to sermons and study God’s teachings, you will have opportunities to receive insight from God. He wants to communicate with you, and church is a good place to hear His voice in your heart and mind.
7. To Receive Essential Ordinances and Covenants
Heavenly Father’s work is to “bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). But sometimes we might forget that His work requires some work on our part too! We qualify for the blessings of eternal life by obedience to the ordinances and covenants of the gospel. President Russell M. Nelson has said: “We cannot wish our way into the presence of God. We are to obey the laws upon which those blessings are predicated [see D&C 130:20–21].”1
The ordinances we participate in and the covenants we make are necessary for us to return to the presence of our Heavenly Father and live with Him. Those ordinances and covenants require the priesthood—which is available only in God’s true Church. Without those covenants, we’d be lost.
Church meetings help us learn about the essential ordinances and our covenants.
8. To Help Families Qualify for Eternal Life
Another major reason we have the Church meetings is to help families qualify for eternal life. The sealing ordinance in the temple allows families to be together forever. For that to happen, we have to live worthy to receive those blessings. The Church helps families help each other do that.
As Elder Christofferson has taught, “The point of gospel teaching and priesthood ordinances administered by the Church is that families may qualify for eternal life.”4 Thus, the Church helps us live up to those covenants—and helps us support each other along the way.
9. To Bless People All over the World
Elder Christofferson said that as we work together in the Church, Heavenly Father can “achieve needful things that cannot be accomplished by individuals or smaller groups.”5
Did you know that every year for the past 30 years, the Church has donated US$40 million worth of welfare and humanitarian aid and service projects? The generous donations and volunteer service that Church members offer accomplishes things that could be done in no other way.
Through our extraordinary missionary program, missionaries share the light of the gospel with people all over the world. Nearly 105,000 missionaries (including young adults and seniors) are serving. Wow! That’s more people than the population of some cities!
And because of members’ charitable donations, the Church has the resources to build temples all over the world. As of April 2018, there were 182 temples in operation, under construction, or announced.
Bonus Reason: To Establish the Kingdom of God on the Earth
One of the most important reasons God established a church is that it is the kingdom of God here on the earth (see D&C 65). The Lord bestowed upon Joseph Smith and all the prophets and apostles since him the keys of the priesthood. Elder Christofferson taught, “In the authority of these keys, the Church’s priesthood officers preserve the purity of the Savior’s doctrine and the integrity of His saving ordinances.”6
Through the Church leaders, the Lord can administer His work and minister to His children. Without such leadership, all kinds of false ideas and teachings would threaten to lead us into dark, forbidden paths. In other words, to help us know how to achieve eternal life, we need the protection provided by truly called and ordained prophets and apostles. That happens only in His Church.
What to Expect at Church
Attending church each Sunday is a respite from fast-paced daily living. We slow down for two hours each week to reflect, worship God, strengthen our spiritual connections, and refocus our lives on Jesus. We attend with a community of Saints who are all trying to be more Christlike and learn from each other.
I remember a Sunday when I was young, that the moment the closing prayer was said in a Sacrament meeting, I stood up and said “Oh Good! It’s finally over! Now, let’s get out of here.” I marched down the isle and encouraged everyone to leave as quickly as possible. My point of view at the time was that Church was something to be endured. I’m grateful that my parents and other leaders invited me to see things differently.
Church meetings are powerful and life-changing. I’ve received more answers to prayers on a Sunday at a church meeting than in any other location or time. I have the power of my renewing my covenants, feeling a sense of community, and serving others by worshipping with them.