I concur with you Christopher. My secular employment makes Sunday mornings difficult to attend. I personally am not a regular institutional church attendee, not do I adhere to the traditional precepts of man. Considerably too much tradition forces Christian's into thinking the ritualistic gathering of staged worship is required to be a good Christian. This can easily become religion of the external, lacking faith of the heart. Many of souls will have appeared in church religiously for 50 years, yet after death will hear "Away from me, for I never knew you." Corporate attendance does not equate to God's smile and a stroke of affirmation. Such a persuasion would be a "justified by works" motivation.

For me, it is a priority to read from the Bible some every day, pray and have regular times of worship independently via CD music. However, I do have a core study group in which I belong during one evening a week, who is a melting pot of denominations. An independent fellowship group similar to the H2H movement. It required my sifting through a number of groups and churches, and considerable prayer and tenacity, to find a living organism that represented Christ's purpose.

I too lamented as many, that few biblically grounded Christian group could be found. In my primarily "Emergent Trend" community of churches, I did manage to find more than one quorum of biblically based believers. This is after a search of more than 5 years. Like all living things, the church is an organism, shifting, transitioning, growing or decreasing. Sometimes one will be healthy and then fall ill, some fail. On the other hand, some institutions prosper in attendance, but lack the Spirit. One must be flexible and not conformed to a mentality that would have us stay in a situation that the Holy Spirit has impressed us to move on from. Other times, the Holy Spirit may indeed have us stand fast. Each situation differs in composition, as diverse as people.

Of course, there is the issue of hurt. The spiritual landscape is filled with people who have been hurt by the “church” and therefore the church universal is abstained from as a source of pain. This is not God’s will, nor will it ever be. Personally, I have been hurt, rejected, misunderstood, asked to leave, and on it goes. After 25 years of being a Christian from childhood, I have experienced much at both extremes. I did spend some time separate from the church after a fall out due to error on the part of multiple parties. I can either sit licking my wounds while blaming others and the church, or obey Christ, forgive even if despitefully used, learn the lesson, and get back in there and rub shoulders with the saints. I realize the Lord allows a time of grief, but there comes the time which we must pick up our mats and go back home to His people.

The foundational fact of all this is, it is impossible for anyone to maintain a healthy spiritual core by being a closet Christian. As a body of water must circulate to remain oxygenated less it become poisonious, so do we have to give and receive love from a core group, or become toxic to ourselves and others. This rule isn’t limited to Christianity, it is a precept of humanity. I think of the passage in Hebrews 10:24-25 "And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near."

One of my commentaries read "The reason the meetings of the assembly are not to be neglected is that they provide a communal setting where mutual encouragement and admonition may occur… The entire community must assume responsibility to watch that no one grows weary or becomes apostate. This is possible only when Christians continue to exercise care for one another personally.” – William L. Lane, Hebrews 9-13, Word Biblical Commentary vol. 47B.

This is not an isolated conclusion. In fact, the vast majority of commentators recognize the importance of “mutual encouragement and admonition” when believers gather together. They recognize that the author of Hebrews assumed that this would be the normal behavior for all assemblies of the saints. Even the Apostles' and Nicene Creed place emphasis on this when the later text reads "I believe in the Holy Spirit... the communion of the saints".

Two problems in church life—complacency and arrogance—are addressed in Hebrews 10:24-25. As Christians, our commitment to loving one another and using our gifts can falter because of either. We can become complacent so that we demonstrate very little active love and responsibility for one another. Our Christian existence becomes routine and lifeless. The writer warns us to be thoughtful in these areas. What can we do to stir up our holy zeal and stop being complacent? How can we fan the flames of our faith and service to others back into life? What can you do to help those close to you live a life characterized by love and the charitable giving of self?

If we look carefully at what Hebrew's writer is saying: "Stir one another up to love and good works." He is not saying to stimulate one another up to write esoteric theological treatises, or begin to practice obscure religious liturgies or other "religious" tangents that do not minister to people’s needs. Nor is this prompting the idea of huddling in a corner to become an enraptured student of the scripture unto oneself. Rather, we are told to stir one another up to love, agape love, that magnificent compassion that finds a way to do good in all circumstances. We can’t fulfill the "love" cycle unless we inject ourselves into the lives of others. If we are practicing known sin, we will naturally resist being part of the community.

Arrogance is the second problem addressed in this verse. If we would respond to Christ and minister among believers, we need to abstain not only from complacency, but arrogance also. "Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together," we are told. Do not reject and turn your back in arrogant superiority toward other believers. Do not imagine you know so much and are so spiritual that you have advanced beyond the unwashed masses, the ordinary struggling Christians around you. We should never come to a place where we don't think we have need of others found at elementary levels of maturity. Nor should be look down on them, or scoff at their childlike ignorance. This is spiritual pride, the ugliest of religious poisons.

"…as you see the day drawing near." The day of the return of Christ is nearer, nearer perhaps than many care to think. Knowing that, we ought to all the more thoughtfully consider how we might stir up one another, being diligent to retain enthusiasm for our assembling together and being part of one another. May the Holy Spirit work within each of us to help us properly understand our role in His Kingdom.