Does Matthew 18:20 Exempt Christians From Attending The Regular Worship Assembly?
Some Christians quote Matthew 18:20 to try to justify their practice of going out on Sunday to fish, golf, attend travel ball or perform some other recreational activity, missing the first-day-of-the-week assembly and simply holding their "own services" since two or three are gathered. Many verses like this are abused in like manner (such as, Matthew 7:1 where people claim that you cannot judge (see our Question in the Q & A- Is It A Sin To Judge?).
This verse has to be put into its whole context: Matthew 18:15-20: "Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that 'by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.' And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them."
The context indicates that Jesus is talking about conflict resolution, not the worship assembly. Notice there is a progression of what is to happen to gain your brother or sister in Christ back if they have sinned against you. First, you are to go to them personally. If that does not work, secondly, you are to bring two or three witnesses. If that does not work, then every church member ought to go to that erring brother or sister so that he/she may be regained. Notice that Jesus goes back to the part about two or three witnesses because such was done in His name (by His authority - Colossians 3:17). Therefore Jesus will be honored when His commandments are being obeyed by that company of His precious followers who are trying to do the right thing.
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