Start the next part of your journey. Go far close to home at McDowell Tech, the 6th best community college in the USA

Embracing the Joy of Gathering

By Toby Crowder

Mitchell CountyToby Crowder Mt. Carmel Baptist Church Spruce Pine

Barney Fife sang it best (and slightly off key) when he bellowed the words “Welcome sweet springtime, we greet thee in song…” and I can’t help but agree with him! With the coming of the Spring season, many churches and Pastors begin to look forward to the end of inclement weather and the ability to begin planning church events and anticipate Spring revivals, Camp Meetings, and other church gatherings. If your church has three worship services per week, that affords the average church member with over 150 opportunities annually to gather with God’s people to worship. If you consider special services like VBS, prayer gatherings, etc. then that number increases exponentially. In our post-covid world, many churches have seen a decline in regular church attendance. Speaking from the standpoint of a Pastor, I have learned that we can not focus on why people choose not to attend church services but rather focus on why we DO want to come to the house of God. As with any other activity, we are prone to put forth the effort and be faithful to those things in life that we have a deep desire to experience. This desire seems evident to me when I read the words of the Psalmist in the above verse. This Psalmist was GLAD to go to the House of the Lord! He was not mad… or sad. He was not upset at the Pastor or the choir leader, and he didn’t decide that it would be easier to casually watch the live stream on a Smartphone. This privilege of being active in a local church body is all too often taken for granted.

There are many reasons why people do not come to church, and there are also many excuses. Many will relate it to fighting in the church, hypocrites, and other complaints, but these are excuses at best. David was going through what most of us would call a “rough patch” or a time of trial. He had been betrayed by his people, and his close friends, and driven from the throne by his own son Absalom and into the wilderness of Judea. He was far from the home and people that he loved and from the sanctuary in Jerusalem. David was both physically and spiritually in a wilderness place. What are some elements about the house of God that David might have missed, and do we consider these when we do not faithfully attend?

One element is what I would call spiritual communication or sharing the things of Christ in a common setting. We should be sharing what God has done in our lives with our brothers and sisters in Christ. The simple joy of salvation, the sharing of prayer requests and praise reports, studying the Word of God in Sunday School and small groups, singing in a choir, and just enjoying the presence of the Lord with like-minded believers. Jesus Himself has promised us in Matt 18:20 “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” And when we come together with others, we can see this promise fulfilled as we worship together.

There is also spiritual cooperation or working together with others for the cause of Christ. This cooperation may show itself in many forms of outreach. For example, our church body recently came together on a weeknight and cooked and delivered meals to several widows, the elderly, and the unchurched in our community.  Ministry opportunities like this require cooperation, and when we join in spiritual cooperation with others, we can minister as the body of Christ and be His “hands and feet” in our community.

Finally, consider the spiritual communion that happens when we come together in communication and cooperation to fulfill the work that Christ has called us to do. When we join ourselves with a local church and serve together, we can experience this sweet communion together which draws us closer to one another and the Lord. We forfeit all this and much more when we “skip” church. What a privilege it is to be a part of the church! It truly is a joy to serve Christ with others who have that desire. Let’s join David and be GLAD to go to church!


Toby Crowder serves as Pastor of Mt. Carmel Baptist Church in Spruce Pine. He and his wife Leslie have been married for almost 30 years and have two daughters, Emilee, and Katy. Feel free to contact him at or


Read more from Toby Crowder here.