This is easily the most misunderstood of the five items taught by Hebrews in this passage. One reason is that this verse (10:25) has been used as though it was a direct command to attend worship services and Bible studies, with the implication that those who failed to attend were sinning.
But the function of the passage is completely different. It is not even a command! Rather, it helps describe how to keep a different command. The phrase, "not neglecting to meet together," (ESV) helps describe how to do the command it is attached to: "Consider how to stir up one another to love and good works" (10:24). Quite simply, if we do not meet together, we cannot encourage one another in this pursuit.
The goal of this teaching is the mutual encouragement of believers. The writer knows how easy it is to become discouraged. Without the encouragement of other believers, discouragement in our isolation can very easily cause us to give up.
The phrase, "not neglecting to meet together," is not meant to be used as a hammer to hit folks over the head who do not attend worship services and Bible studies as often as others would like them to. Rather, it helps describe the purpose of gathering together--for mutual encouragement as we push one another on to greater love and maturity.
This can be accomplished during our worship gatherings. It can also be accomplished during one-on-one coffee appointments, times where a few families gather for dinner together, or in a variety of different ways. None of these should be neglected. We ought not neglect coming together for encouragement in worship and Bible study; neither should we neglect the spurring on of others to love and good deeds during the week when we do not gather together as a church.
How often and in what ways do you gather with other Christians? What is your purpose in coming together? How can you become more of an encourager?