Some folks didn’t like an article that I linked on social media a couple of weeks ago. It was entitled, “Sorry, but if you’re a Christian, you need to go to church. Regularly.”
People fired off a number of reasons why they didn’t need to attend church. Most of the comments boiled down to the church being an institutionalized business, headed by pastors whose main task is raising money and increasing numbers rather than ministering to the broken. Others reminded me that we should not “go to church” but “be the church.” One woman commented, “Jesus Himself never said, ‘Go to church every Sunday.'”
Listen, I get it. Some churches do seem to be mega-corporations. Others seem to idolize their flashy worship and celebrity preachers. And I’m the first to admit that all congregations have failed people from time-to-time.
But “going to church” is being the church — at least, it’s a vital component of being a genuine Christian. Now I’m not too particular about where you meet. You could assemble in a stately building with stained-glass windows, a rented storefront, a school, in a living room or under a tree. The ancient Israelites met God encamped around an enormous tent. Jesus Himself went to worship in the synagogue, “as was his custom” (Luke 4:16). The early Christians came together in catacombs, houses and the temple courts. But the point is, they met. Regularly. They prayed, sang praises, received the Word and took up offerings for the afflicted. The church even had administrative meetings! But even back then, there were some who claimed they didn’t need to “attend church,” as Hebrews 10:24-25 mentions:
“…let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another…” (italics mine).
And, yes, then we need to “be the church” in this broken world — scattering individually, but maintaining the collective mind of Jesus as we minister to those who need the touch of God. So…do you believe in Jesus but have ditched church? Are you ready, like a gunslinger, to whip out your favorite excuse if challenged? Yes, I know there are homebound people who can’t attend worship. That’s a reason for the church to go to them – “For where two or three gather together in My name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:20). Of course, not everyone can gather on the traditional Sunday morning. That’s why many churches offer services and studies on other days of the week. Do you take advantage of them – or are you keeping your “excuse-holster” full?
The point is, we need to be together. Often. People who claim to believe in Jesus Christ but don’t plant themselves in a local church are like athletes who say, “Our coach is awesome, but we don’t feel the need to show up for practice.” John Wesley said, “The gospel of Christ knows of no religion but social; no holiness but social holiness.”
Agree? Disagree? Please comment!