As a disciple, I have often wondered that is it okay for a disciple to miss church for reasons other than attending funerals or visiting the sick. Is it acceptable to miss a church meeting when we are out of town visiting parents, going on a short holiday, or attending business seminars? -- Tendai

The Bible does not address every question we could ask. Rather, it gives us principles to live by. While familiar verses like Hebrews 3:12-14 remind us of our deep need for fellowship, few of us would interpret Hebrews 10:24-25 -- let us not give up meeting together -- as allowing no exceptions. While I personally strongly encourage every disciple to make all the regular meetings of the church and even a good number of the "optional" ones, we all realize that we are not to be bound by legalism.

Let me share my thinking about the sample situations you mentioned.

When both my parents were alive and I visited them, I always made it a point to visit the local church. My wife and I are loath to fly on Sundays if that means we will not be able to attend service--even if that means we pay more for our ticket. (A small price to pay for spiritual input and a consistent example.)

Short holidays can easily be constructed so that we do not miss church services at all. Thanks to the fruits of evangelism (and also international missions efforts), in most cities around the world you will not be too far from other Christians.

Work sometimes does require us to miss church, but if it has us missing too much church, we should consider getting another job. I am not talking about overtime. Sadly, some disciples willingly work longer hours than necessary and end up being late to (or absent from) meetings of the body.

In the world, many men (and women) virtually worship their careers or else worship money. Occupation is king. But the truth is, Jesus Christ is the true king. We must not become slaves of Mammon. In short, missing church is an extremely bad habit. The more someone misses, the more he or she will grow weak spiritually. The fact that some exceptions may be legitimate should never be taken as an excuse for drifting away from the body (Hebrews 2:1). I pray these comments will be taken in the right spirit.

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