Do I Have to Go to Church?

People search this question on Google about 30 times a week…  If you’re one of those 30 people, this post is for you!

A church celebrates the Lord's supper

If you’re at church 3-4 times each week, you’ll also benefit from what I have to say. You’re probably wondering how to help other people become more consistent, and this post applies.

Church attendance is part of growing in faithfulness.

As with other areas of personal consistency, start with what you believe—your feelings and actions come from this.

So, what do you believe about church? To be a faithful Christian, do you need to be at church all the time? What does God expect?

Let’s start by asking what the church is.

The word means “an assembly.” The word existed before the time of Jesus and the beginning of Christianity. The first Christians began referring to themselves as “the assembly.” Simple enough.

This point helps explain why “church” has several meanings to us today.

  • The church is all the Christians in the world throughout history.
  • It’s also a particular gathering of people on a Sunday morning.
  • It’s also those same people throughout the week when they are not gathered.
  • Lastly (and least usefully) “church” is a shorthand for “church building.”

The church is a group—a divinely created group.

When Jesus saves people, he calls them to join into a community to become his body (1 Corinthians 12:27). We are like living stones, together building a single temple for God (1 Peter 2:5).

God intends us to work together, each contributing in our own ways to building his unified kingdom (Romans 12:6). God expects us to love each other deeply (1 John 4:7-8). He expects us to impress other people by the love we have for one another (John 13:35).

How can we build such unity? There are two main foundations, both of which should be accomplished in the weekly church gathering. They are:

1. The preaching of God’s Word.
2. The weekly celebration of the Lord’s supper.

This was the practice of the first Christians and the entire church until the development of Roman Catholicism.

Christians gathered each Sunday to celebrate the “Lord’s Day” (Revelation 1:10).

Every Sunday was an Easter celebration of Jesus’ resurrection. This was the day the disciples consistently came together for preaching, the breaking of bread, singing, prayers, and a collection for the saints (Acts 20:7, Ephesians 5:19, 1 Corinthians 16:1-2).

Why did they meet so often? Because they knew the value of provoking one another to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24). The church gathering is the equipping stage of Christian life. It’s not the fulfillment of our task as Christians; it’s the mission-briefing.

Do you see the weekly gathering as a dull responsibility to fulfill?

Please don’t think this. It’s the Lord’s Day. And you have the great privilege to praise him, to gather with others in the power of the Holy Spirit, and to provoke others and be provoked to the good deeds you will do throughout the week.

Do not overlook the great blessing of praying with God’s people and gathering to hear the truth. When you look around at the people Christ called to himself, remember they are the very bride of Christ. Treat them in as worthy of this honor, both in your outward actions and your inner thoughts.

There are so-called Christians who leave the church.

For some, it is to have more “family time.” For others, it is to write a book about spirituality and coffee shops. Whatever their outward excuse, their inner failure is that they do not love God’s people nor the teaching of God’s Word.

It is them that Hebrews 10:25 denounces as “forsaking the assembling.”

You always have the time to do what matters most.

To exhort other Christians—that’s what matters in God’s eyes. That’s what mattered to the disciples.

God has called us to assemble. Does he want you to be there? Yes.

It glorifies God. That’s why I get out of bed.