“They continued devoting themselves . . . to associating together.”—ACTS 2:42.
1-3. (a) How have Christians shown that they are eager to meet together? (See opening picture.) (b) What will we discuss in this article?
WHEN Corinna was only 17 years old, her mother was arrested and sent to a Soviet labor camp. Later, Corinna herself was exiled to Siberia, thousands of miles away from her home. Treated like a slave, she was sometimes forced to work outdoors in the bitter cold without adequate clothing. Despite those harsh conditions, Corinna and another sister were determined to attend a congregation meeting.
2 “We left our work area in the evening,” she explains, “and walked to a railway station 15 miles (25 km) away. The train departed at two o’clock in the morning, and we rode for six hours before disembarking and walking six miles (10 km) to the meeting place.” Was the trip worth it? Corinna relates: “At the meeting, we studied The Watchtower and sang Kingdom songs. It was a very upbuilding and faith-strengthening experience for us.” Though they did not return to work until three days later, the farm manager did not even notice that Corinna and her companion had been away.
3 Jehovah’s people have always treasured occasions to meet together. Immediately after the Christian congregation was formed, followers of Jesus began “devoting themselves . . . to associating together.” (Acts 2:42) You likely share their desire to attend congregation meetings regularly. Nevertheless, all Christians face obstacles. Secular work, a busy schedule, or fatigue because of our daily routine can make it difficult to attend meetings. What will motivate us to try to overcome these obstacles and maintain a healthy pattern of meeting attendance? How can we help our Bible students and others to see the importance of attending meetings? In this article, we will consider eight reasons to meet together for worship. We can group those reasons into three categories: how you are affected, how others are affected, and how Jehovah is affected when you attend meetings.
HOW YOU ARE AFFECTED
4. How does meeting together help us to learn about Jehovah?
4 Meetings educate us. Every congregation meeting helps us to learn about our God, Jehovah. For example, over a recent period of almost two years, most congregations considered the book Draw Close to Jehovah at the Congregation Bible Study. Did not that study of God’s qualities, along with the heartfelt comments of your brothers and sisters, strengthen your love for your heavenly Father? We also increase our knowledge of God’s Word by paying careful attention to talks, demonstrations, and Bible readings. (Neh. 8:8) For instance, think of the spiritual gems you discover each week as you prepare for and listen to highlights from the Bible reading!
5. How have meetings helped you to use what you learned from the Bible and to improve the way you preach?
5 Meetings teach us to apply Bible principles in all aspects of our life. (1 Thess. 4:9, 10) The Watchtower Study, for example, is tailored to the needs of God’s people. Has a Watchtower Study motivated you to reevaluate your goals, to forgive a fellow Christian, or to improve the quality of your prayers? The midweek meeting educates us for the ministry. We learn how to preach the good news and how to teach Scriptural principles effectively.—Matt. 28:19, 20.
6. How do our meetings encourage us and help us to keep strong?
6 Meetings encourage us. This system of things can weaken us mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. In contrast, congregation meetings encourage and strengthen us. (Read Acts 15:30-32.) At many of our meetings, we review the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. As a result, we reinforce our conviction that Jehovah’s promises for the future will likewise be fulfilled. Of course, it is not just those who speak from the platform who encourage us. Fellow Christians who offer comments and sing from the heart also build us up. (1 Cor. 14:26) And when we converse with our brothers and sisters before and after the meetings, we feel a sense of belonging and enjoy true refreshment.—1 Cor. 16:17, 18.
7. Why is it so important to be at our meetings?
7 Meetings bring us under the influence of holy spirit. The glorified Jesus Christ said: “Let the one who has an ear hear what the spirit says to the congregations.” (Rev. 2:7) Yes, Jesus leads the Christian congregation by means of holy spirit. We need holy spirit to help us resist temptation, to embolden and equip us for the ministry, and to enable us to make sound decisions. Should we not take advantage of every provision—including congregation meetings—to receive that spirit?
HOW OTHERS ARE AFFECTED
8. When our brothers see us at the meetings and hear us comment and sing, how does this help them? (See also the box “He Always Leaves Feeling Better.”)
8 Meetings give us opportunities to show our brothers that we love them. Think deeply about the challenges some brothers and sisters in your congregation must endure. No wonder the apostle Paul wrote: “Let us be concerned about one another”! Paul thereafter explained that we can show our concern by “not forsaking our meeting together.” (Heb. 10:24, 25; ftn.) Your presence at meetings shows that you deem your fellow worshippers worthy of your time, attention, and concern. In addition, your heartfelt comments and singing encourage your fellow Witnesses.—Col. 3:16.
9, 10. (a) Explain how Jesus’ words found at John 10:16 help us to understand why it is important to meet with our brothers. (b) If we are at the meetings regularly, how can we help someone who has been rejected by his family?
9 Meetings unite us with fellow believers. (Read John 10:16.) Jesus compared himself to a shepherd, and his followers to a flock of sheep. Consider: If two sheep are on a hill, two other sheep are in a valley, and still another sheep is grazing elsewhere, would we describe those five sheep as a flock? Generally, a flock of sheep stays together under the care of its shepherd. Similarly, we cannot follow our Shepherd if we deliberately isolate ourselves. We need to meet together with other Christians to be part of “one flock” under “one shepherd.”
10 When we attend a meeting, we contribute to the unity of our brotherhood. (Ps. 133:1) Some of our fellow worshippers have been rejected by their parents and siblings. Yet, Jesus promised that he would give them a spiritual family to love them and care for them. (Mark 10:29, 30) When you attend meetings regularly, you may very well prove to be a father, mother, brother, or sister to one of these dear ones! Does that not motivate us to do our utmost to be at all the meetings?
HOW JEHOVAH IS AFFECTED
11. How does attending meetings help us to give Jehovah what he deserves?
11 Our meeting attendance gives Jehovah what he deserves. As our Creator, Jehovah deserves praise, glory, thanksgiving, and honor. (Read Revelation 7:12.) When we pray, sing, and speak about Jehovah at our meetings, we are giving him what he so richly deserves—our worship. We cherish the privilege to honor the One who has done so much for us.
12. How does Jehovah feel when we obey his command to attend meetings?
12 Jehovah also deserves our obedience. He has commanded us not to forsake our meeting together, especially during this time of the end. When we willingly obey that command, Jehovah is pleased. (1 John 3:22) He notices and values the effort we put forth to attend each meeting.—Heb. 6:10.
13, 14. How do we draw close to Jehovah and Jesus at meetings?
13 Our meeting attendance shows Jehovah that we want to draw close to him and his Son. At our meetings, our Grand Instructor directs us through the pages of his Word, the Bible. (Isa. 30:20, 21) Even unbelievers who attend our meetings may conclude: “God is really among you.” (1 Cor. 14:23-25) Jehovah blesses meetings with his holy spirit and actively directs the Scriptural teaching program. At our meetings, then, we are listening to Jehovah’s voice and sensing his loving care. Consequently, we draw close to him.
14 Jesus said: “Where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there I am in their midst.” (Matt. 18:20) In principle, Jesus’ statement applies to our meetings. As head of the congregation, Christ “walks among” the congregations of God’s people. (Rev. 1:20–2:1) Think of it! Jehovah and Jesus are actively involved in strengthening us at Christian meetings. How do you think Jehovah feels when he observes our eagerness to draw close to him and his Son?
15. How does going to meetings show God that we want to obey him?
15 Our meeting attendance demonstrates that we support God’s sovereignty. Although Jehovah commands us to attend meetings, he does not force us to comply. (Isa. 43:23) Therefore, it is up to us to show Jehovah how deeply we love him from our heart and how firmly we support his rule. (Rom. 6:17) For example, we may be pressured by an employer who insists that we sacrifice regular meeting attendance for secular work. We may be opposed by a government that threatens us with fines, imprisonment, or worse if we meet together for worship. Or we may be tempted to engage in recreation rather than attend a meeting. In each of these situations, we face a choice: Whom will we serve? (Acts 5:29) When we choose to support Jehovah’s sovereignty, we make his heart rejoice.—Prov. 27:11.
CONTINUE DEVOTING YOURSELF TO MEETING TOGETHER
16, 17. (a) How do we know that meetings were very important to Christians in the first century? (b) How did Brother George Gangas feel about Christian meetings?
16 The early Christians did not simply meet together for a brief period following the stunning miracle at Pentecost 33 C.E. “They continued devoting themselves to the teaching of the apostles, to associating together.” (Acts 2:42) The Greek word translated “devoting themselves” implies enduring or persevering in a course with intense effort. Under Roman rule and faced with opposition by the Jewish religious leaders, those Christians did not find it easy to attend meetings. Nevertheless, they persevered.
17 Many modern-day servants of Jehovah have shown deep appreciation for Christian meetings. George Gangas, who served on the Governing Body for over 22 years, stated: “To me, meeting with the brothers is one of life’s greatest pleasures and a source of encouragement. I love to be at the Kingdom Hall among the first, and leave among the last, if possible. I feel an inward joy when talking with God’s people. When I am among them I feel at home with my family, in a spiritual paradise.” He added: “As the compass always points to the north, just so my innermost thought and desire is to attend the meetings.”
18. How do you feel about our meetings, and what are you determined to do?
18 Do you feel the same way about gathering together to worship Jehovah? Then be determined to endure and persevere in your earnest efforts to attend meetings regularly. You will thus show that you agree with King David, who said: “Jehovah, I love the house where you dwell.”—Ps. 26:8.
 (paragraph 3) Some of our fellow believers are unable to attend meetings regularly because of circumstances beyond their control, such as serious illness. They can be certain that Jehovah understands their situation and deeply appreciates their whole-souled worship. Elders may assist these infirm ones to benefit from spiritual programs, perhaps by helping them to tie in by telephone hookup or by recording the meetings for them.
 (paragraph 3) See the box “Reasons to Attend Meetings.”