I do not know of anyone who thinks that is not important. I have been trained and influenced in such a way that if a visitor to our church lives a good distance away, I always recommend a healthy church nearer to them if I know of one. But I wonder if I am overthinking on that one.
Perhaps I have not been taking into consideration the cultural changes between today and the first century. The invention of cars and interstates makes a 30 minute drive to a worship service not that different from a 30 minute walk or caravan in yesteryear. And perhaps I should take relationship into consideration when thinking through these things too.
My new “sister-in-law” (my sister’s husband’s sister) has been visiting our church recently. I have recommended a great church to her in the past that is about five-ten minutes from where she lives, but for now she prefers taking 40-45 minutes to come to us. She is young in the faith and has relationship with us; she does not get much spiritual support from her husband at this point; and my sister and bro-in-law are more than willing to drive to her and bring her every week. It does not interest her much to go to a church near her where she does not know anyone. In fact, her husband is now very open to visiting our church. Her coming for now to our church seems like such a good thing.
Perhaps as she begins to grow in Christ, and becomes more missional in mindset, she will see the value of inviting friends to come to know Christ, and then perhaps see a need to be in a church nearer to her own community. But even then, I wonder if it is right, because of God’s providence over our relationships–and especially as long as the speed limit is 60 on the H-3–to simply think of them as virtually being “near” to our community.