“…not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” – Hebrews 10:25
Yes, Christians need to meet together. Is your salvation on the line if you don’t do it? Not remotely. But having fellowship with other believers is something you need in your life to encourage you. This particular oft-quoted verse comes from the book of Hebrews, and the entire purpose of that letter was to tell Christians, “Don’t go back! Don’t fall away from faith!” God seems to think that meeting up and supporting each other is something that helps us.
I do not mean that Christians need to go to the church building, or be part of some organization. All that can help, but it’s not necessary. “Going to church” is meeting together with other believers in Jesus’ name, and for the purpose of growing closer to him.
“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” – Matthew 18:20
That is church.
Church doesn’t need to be going to a certain service. It can be two believers talking at lunch. The main thing is that what’s happening is in Jesus’ name, that He himself is a part of it. It is possible for believers to meet together and not have church, to just “hang out.” That is good, but I don’t think it’s church. We need something more to encourage each other. We need fellowship.
A common analogy that I find helpful is this: when a predator hunts its prey, one of the first things it does is try to get its target away from the herd.
As believers, we have a predator, an enemy whose sole purpose is to accuse us before God and to drag us down to the same empty place he’s in.
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” – 1 Peter 5:8
We’re stronger together than we are apart. Everyone needs a support system. We weren’t meant to be alone.
I think that at its best, church should be like family. Sure, it may have its squabbles and annoyances, but deep down you know you are there for each other, that in the face of an unsympathetic world (and for believers, an actual adversary bent on destroying you), you have each other’s backs. You support one another, bearing each others weaknesses and helping one another grow closer to God.
It is possible to “go to church” and have never experienced real fellowship. I would encourage everyone to find a church family that they can experience the real thing with. Not every gathering place is a healthy one. If Jesus isn’t there with you, it’s not church.
Real church, meeting together with the family of faith in the presence of your Savior, is something everyone needs, even if they’ve not experienced it and don’t realize they need it. It doesn’t have to happen in a church building, or according to a pre-planned church schedule, and it’s not going to mean you don’t belong to Jesus if you don’t go, but we all need each other. We weren’t meant to go it alone.
The first thing I want to clarify is the church is not a building. Church is a body of believers coming together (Acts chapter two). Why do I bring this up? Well the dictionary defines church as “a building used for public Christian worship.” (Insert buzzer sound here). That is a common misconception, but not just amongst non-believers. Many, many Christians believe this as well. This means they may have missed the entire book of Acts in the process.
I have always viewed Acts as the sequel to the Gospels. The Gospels are the first four Rocky movies and Acts is the sixth film. I skipped the fifth Rocky due to no one liking it. Anyways, the church is the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27).
Who can be in this “body of Christ” that I speak of? Well… anyone really. Anyone who has accepted Christ’s salvation for our lives and placed their faith in Him (John 3:16; 1 Corinthians 12:13). Seems pretty simple, huh? But, that is not the question we are answering here. We are answering whether Christians need to go to church or not. Not what the church is.
1 John 1:3 shows us that we are meant to be in a fellowship that is with God and the church. We are meant to be together (Romans 12:5) and not separated. Being separated from the pack is when Satan has his easiest shot at you. After all, you are alone and vulnerable with no support. A stray sheep from the pack.
Since the church is the body of Christ then that must mean you are one of its limbs or organs. You are an essential part. I find that the following verses sum this up quite nicely:
“Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor.” – 1 Corinthians 12:14-23
“But I don’t like church. They ask me to give money/something bad happened there/other excuses.” First, giving money to the church is honoring God as known as tithe. Second, the church is full of human beings. We all mess up. Find a new church then. I have been to a church that left a sour taste in my mouth as well so I prayed about it and found a new one. It sucks having to do that, but some things are just unavoidable.
So, do we need to go to church? Yes. Can we make excuses for not being part of a church? 99% of the time… no. Unless you physically are incapable of going then you lack an excuse. This goes for everyone, including myself.
“I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD.” – Psalms 122:1
It is becoming increasingly common to find more empty pews in Christian churches in this generation. You wouldn’t have to go to a church for long to start hearing some of the reasons given for those vacant seats from some of the church’s more infrequent attendees. I know I must have heard dozens of reasons why not to go to church through the years.
Sometimes it’s just a small thing that causes a person to miss a few midweek services, other times it’s a colossal issue which may have caused someone to backslide and renounce their faith. Often the cause and effect is somewhere in between. A person may still believe in Christ, and wish to love and serve Him, but find themselves disconnected from a Church body.
With a bit of research and personal account I’ve come up with a few of the general reasons people give for not attending church.
Reasons Why People Don’t Go to Church
A busy life
Disagree with a specific church’s teaching(s)
The church is full of hypocrites
Churches are just after money
Churches are too judgmental
There are too many different “types” (denominations) of Christian churches
Everyone expects something different out of Church / The traditional and contemporary refuse to be reconciled
I would like to, and could, go through each of those reasons individually and show how they don’t make sense logically and/or through scriptural teaching;, but I’m not going to do that here. That would make this article far longer than it needs to be and probably make a lot of people who hold tightly to those reasons upset yet unchanged. Instead I will just give the simple explanation which would be a resounding theme throughout the other explanations I could give to counter all of the previously mentioned reasons not to go to church. …
Because the Bible says it’s important.
“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” – Acts 2:42
It is a key fixture of the New Testament that the believers in Christ would gather together to encourage each other and to learn about God through the preached word. It’s easy enough to understand, and it’s a somewhat common saying, that you are who your friends are; you will be who you hang out with. The early church and its founders knew this and were careful that they spent as much time as possible with like-minded people of God. This was a way to bond fellow believers with each other for mutual support. For a further understanding of how this could work I’d suggest giving the song “Lean On Me” by Bill Withers a listen.
“And let us take thought of how to spur one another on to love and good works, not abandoning our own meetings, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and even more so because you see the day drawing near.” – Hebrews 10:24 – 25 (NET)
I know that it could be argued that a lot has changed since late Biblical times, but we must be careful with changes we make to how we practice Biblical doctrine because we may have no Biblical backing to do so. It’s far more common for us to claim that something we find inconvenient is unnecessary rather than for that thing to actually need to be changed.
There are some people who say that Churches made more sense in a time when individuals could not read and study the Word of God as easily as they do today. They say that with modern advancements in knowledge and learning it’s possible for an individual to be a Christian and not necessarily be connected to any church body or organization. They have used mere logic to conclude that going to church is no longer necessary.
I would obviously disagree.
The advantages of being formed together as a church which helped the early Christians of the first century still hold true and can clearly help the Christians of the twenty-first century. The advantages given to the modern Christian by means of education and ability to study the Bible more conveniently isn’t a reason to substitute Biblical principles for modern alternatives. If anything we should use contemporary means in addition to traditional ways of drawing close to God. That would be using all the tools at our disposal to draw nearer to the Lord.
“For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” – 1 Corinthians 1:21
“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.” – Proverbs 12:15
It’s very likely that nearly everyone who has left a Church had a seemingly legitimate reason for doing so. I cannot argue that every church, or even any one church, is perfect. However, as we can clearly see through scripture, the early founders of the Christian Church thought that the gathering of believers together was extremely beneficial if not essential to an individual’s salvation.
Allowing someone or something to get in the way of you getting to Church puts your soul in jeopardy; and that’s a lot of power to just hand over.
“Wherever we see the Word of God purely preached and heard, there a church of God exists, even if it swarms with many faults.” – John Calvin
“Church attendance is as vital to a disciple as a transfusion of rich, healthy blood to a sick man.” – Dwight L. Moody