Do You Have to Go to Church to Be a Christian?

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According to Barna Group research, 10% of Americans now classify themselves as people who “love Jesus, but not the church.” This is beyond alarming and demonstrates the spiritual decline and secularization of our nation. Is this okay?

To be sure, church attendance does not save us. We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. However, to be saved by God’s glorious grace and  NOT desire to be part of a faith community, is ludicrous; the New Testament knows nothing of a believer that is not connected to a local church.

When we are saved, we automatically become part of the “Capital C” Church (i.e. the body of Christ). Then, part of the biblical Christian experience is to be connected to a local church. In spite of churches being imperfect (and at times very frustrating),  they are helpful and a necessary part of the Christian life. Here are some reasons why church attendance is vital:

1. The Local Church is a Means to Christian Maturity

The early church met regularly for fellowship, prayer, and learning, and they did sonot out of mere obligationbut with glad hearts (Acts 2:42-46). It is in these times of gathering that the Christians would hear and devote themselves to the teachings of the apostles.

The meeting together of believers is still a necessary part of Christian growth and maturity. The church is a place where believers can be taught the Word and be trained to use their gifts for the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:12). Yes, believers can (and should), read the Bible for themselves, but this does not replace the roles of pastors and teachers in a Christian’s life.

2. Encouragement

Hebrew 10:24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 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.

1 Thess. 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

The secular world is often the source of great discouragement, especially for the Christian. When surrounded by people who are militant against Biblical ways and values, we can feel isolated and weak. When we gather together, we are reminded that we are not alone in this walk, and through the encouragementfound in corporate worship, the precious Scriptures, and other believerswe are strengthened! We are better together!

3. The Church Needs You

When you are an active part of the local church, it is mutually beneficial: you are encouraged and spurred on to good works (Heb. 10:24) and others are blessed because of you. The Biblical call is not to just go to church, but rather to be an active part of the church. This is a place where you can use your unique God-given gifts to serve the Christian Community.

As believers, we make up the body of Christ; the body has many members, and each member has a unique function (1 Corinth 12:12). For the body to properly function, each believer must use his or her particular gifts(s) for Kingdom purposes. In most churches, the Pareto Principle is evident, where 20% of the people do 80% of the work. This shouldn’t be! Every person is called to engage in continual, active service (Romans 12:3-8, Ephesians 4:12-16).

This call to actively use our gifts for Kingdom purposes is not burdensomeit is a privilege and joy! When I watch churchgoers move from spectators to participators, there is normally an unbelievable changein attitude and actionsthat transpires.

You have a gift that your preacher may not have. The church needs you! Get in the game, son!

4. Perseverance

Hebrews 3:12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.

The evidence of someone truly being saved includes endurance to the end. To be sure, God alone is the one who is able to keep us from falling (Jude 24); however, it is important to note, that one of the means that the Lord uses to cause believers to go on believing, is the local church, where we have the opportunity to exhort one another. The local church is a place where we can confront sin, encourage repentance, and spur one another on to good works.

Final Thoughts

Christians, active church attendance is vital! Go to church every time the doors are open. I know some of you have been hurt by church folks, and trust me, it probably won’t be the last time. We are saints, positionally,  but we don’t always act like them. Remember, we are family, and family sticks together even through hurt and pain.

I encourage you to do more than sit in the pew; serve, worship, grow. Commit to a Bible-believing local assembly, put your roots down, and aim for longevity in that particular church.

See ya Sunday?