Do Christians have to go to church?
“I don’t have to go to church to be a Christian.” Ever heard that? Ever said it? “I’m a Christian, but I don’t go to church.” Of course, there are plenty of Christians in the world who never go to church (Christians in prison, or isolated for other reasons). But it’s worth thinking twice before saying that sort of thing again. Here are just a few things to chew over:
1. ‘Going to church’ is not the issue; ‘being part of the church’ is. ‘Church’ is not a building, a place, an event: it’s a group. In Biblical terms, ‘church’ is just the gathering of God’s people around God’s word - meeting to hear from him. In other words, (again, as the Bible puts it) there are just two groups of people - ‘the world’ and ‘the church’ - those who live apart from God, and those who are now his. If you’re not part of the church - a local gathering of God’s people - it is worth asking whether you really do identify with his people.
2. Why would a Christian not want to be involved with church? For a Christian, Jesus is life to them - he’s everything. To meet with those of the same mindset is a life-line! It’s being with family, with those you belong amongst. A Christian would be somebody who craves the company of God’s people.
3. A lot of what we call ‘church’ isn’t church. I think people often make that statement because they have had bad experiences of church. That may be, in truth, their problem, where they have been unforgiving. But it may also be that the so-called ‘church’ they have experienced is simply not a gathering of God’s people
around God’s word. Don’t let a bad experience put you off the real thing! Religious groups can attract the worst sort of people - Jesus had no time for such as them.