You may have met a Christian who didn’t go to church. “Inconceivable!” you thought. After all, how can someone be a Christian and not go to church? It would be like having a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with no peanut butter. I believe the Bible refers to that as blasphemy. Oh wait… The Bible doesn’t talk about peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Anyways, we wanted to answer the oft-asked question about whether Christians needed to go to church or not.
I find fellowship with believers a great way to grow your faith.
As Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
We should be working together to lift each other up and help others come to Christ. Doing so in a church setting is one of the greatest ways to achieve that.
The church is called the Body of Christ in Scripture (1 Corinthians 12:27). I really don’t think that God’s Word would put that much importance on something if it wasn’t a key part of our walk with Him. What we have identified as a church for several centuries (four walls, a steeple, a pulpit, etc.) is beginning to change a little bit for some people, though.
Several groups have begun meeting in each other’s homes or at coffee shops with devotionals or their Bibles to study with. These meetings can also allow us to encourage each other and draw closer to Christ. We have to remember, though, that we are called to give to the community and help the hurting (1 John 3:17), and as long as the group is doing that, together or individually, I don’t really have an argument against you.
The church as it has been for centuries has stayed that way for a big reason; it works! You have a building to have services in, someone who has studied Scripture to give an understanding of it, and fellowship and servitude with brothers and sisters in Christ. I don’t think our generation is so different from past generations that we need to destroy the way that it has functioned for so long, but I’m also sure that people have met outside of church walls for a long time as well.
The important part is that we are working together to grow in Christ. We should do this together, but it is also important to have time to fellowship with God on our own. You shouldn’t only be getting fed spiritually from one place. God gave us prayer, the church, Scripture, communion, and a number of other ways to connect with Him. We need to be sure to seek God on our own as well as together in many ways.
So does a Christian need to go to church? I can’t speak for everyone, but I think history has shown that we have benefited from it. I know, personally, I come out of church feeling like I have gotten closer to God. It’s hard for me to do so without having other believers to grow and learn with. Sometimes what I have understood from Scripture has been completely different than what someone else in my church community has thought, and after talking it out with them, I’ve changed my opinion a time or two and the same can be said vice versa.
If you haven’t tried attending church, I think it would be in your benefit to give it a go. Try a few churches from different denominations too. You never know which church community is a good fit for you until you attend a few weeks. Other than a few hours on your Sunday, you don’t have much to lose, but you have the opportunity to gain so much.
This is a personal topic for me since I have actually been on both sides of the fence. Let me share my short story so you can see where I am coming from and I can give you a clearer answer.
At one point, I didn’t attend the church I had been going to (currently the largest church in all of Miami, FL) and serving in for about ten years because I saw too much abuse and manipulation in the leadership. So called “brother/sisters in Christ” decided to gossip about my wife and I because they didn’t like us being together. This was not just silly gossip, but literally spreading rumors about us without our knowledge and pretending they were very holy in doing so. We decided not to be a part of any bible studies, evangelism, or discipleship until we prayed and figured out what God wanted us to do.
As days turned to weeks, then months, we felt more at peace not being part of that church and instead seeking God daily in our personal lives. I knew that God was leading us to go to another place, but I personally don’t agree with “church hopping,” so we continued to pray and visited only one other church a few times.
A friend of ours was attending a small church (like 30-50 people) and I was invited to their men’s bible study. I honestly had never attended one so I was looking forward to it, and after going several times I shared my heart with the pastor. He and the other guys prayed for the right decision to be made, and after hanging out and spending time with their church community we stayed. We chose to stay not because they were nice, but because their vision and goals were what we were looking for.
If your story is similar to mine, or you don’t relate to it at all, that’s ok. The point of the story is that as Christians, we need to be around a community of believers that can lift our hands when we can’t anymore. We need to hear a message that will challenge us and not make us feel comfortable. Christians need to know that they aren’t alone in their struggles, because the Devil loves to isolate and make us feel that we are the “only ones” going through this and that.
“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13
Christianity is about community and relationships. You cannot pull one verse from the New Testament that shows Jesus going off on His own except in prayer. He is always around His disciples (unless they abandoned Him one way or another), or after the Resurrection you find Apostle Paul always mentioning in his letters how he goes to visit the churches he planted. Even Apostle Peter whose own shadow healed the sick never stopped communing with the other disciples.
“For I long to visit you so I can bring you some spiritual gift that will help you grow strong in the Lord.” – Romans 1:11
“But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.” – 1 John 1:7