Why Should I Go to Church?
This article addresses the question,
"Why Should I Go To Church?"
One of the more disturbing revelations about churches is that they are composed of sinners just like you and me
The question underlying this brochure is one that I have heard almost continually since I have been a Christian. The essential question is:
"Why should I have to go to church?"
For many people in the Baby Boomer generation and younger, I have noticed an aversion to authority in almost any form. Most of us after all are "rebels at heart." For example, even though someone may profess to know Christ, and even though he/she may call himself a Christian, - that does not automatically mean that there is an attraction to church attendance. Many prefer to view themselves as "world" Christians rather than make a commitment to a local church.
Others explain that they are part of the "universal or worldwide" church, and do not believe that the local church is for them. Still others do not mind attending a local assembly, but they steadfastly resist ever joining.
As a minister for some 25 years, I believe it may be important to point out that this generation is not the first to resist vital and obedient Christianity, nor will it be the last. I want to point out that all of the answers that will be proposed here will have their roots secured in God's Word. While it may be comforting to "sincerely believe" and "feel" that one is correct about a decision, - it should be pointed out that it is even more important to have our convictions grounded in the truth - God's truth. His Word is presented here for your study and consideration.
Question: Even though I'm a Christian, I don't know of any place in the Bible where God says that we have to go to church. Isn't that true?
Answer: That's a very interesting way that you've framed that question! I say that because you seem to have asked it from a somewhat negative perspective. Let me show you what I mean:
- The Bible does not address many specific areas. For instance, the Bible does not tell us that we should drive cars, - yet we do. The Bible does not tell us that sunscreen will shelter our skin from ultraviolet light. The Bible does not tell us that computers can be valuable instruments.
- My point here is that it is not a good practice to say that I should not do something unless the Bible addresses that very point. Remember, the Bible doesn't tell you to breathe either!
Question: Well, OK then let me say it this way: I don't see anywhere in the Bible where God shows us that we should attend a church?
Answer: Now I'm afraid that I must confess that you and I must not be reading the same Bible. I fear that you may be guilty of what I term "selective reading" - that means seeing and reading only the passages that you want to hear and see. I would need to ask you: "Are you worshipping the god you want or the God Who is?" Let me show you some of the words in my Bible and you might want to check them in yours also. I'm sure you've read Ephesians 4: 11 - 13 "It was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ." As you read that verse, I'm sure you wondered like I did - pastors of what? After all, "pastor" means "shepherd" so one would assume a flock somewhere. And in that same verse, do you see the phrase, the "body of Christ" - one would assume that the church was supposed to be recognizable somehow, wasn't it?
But read further in Heb. 10:24,25 and you will find these words: "And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching."
You can probably deduce from these verses that assembling together with other Christians is what God intends for you. His Word here even reminds us to encourage others toward attendance. Evidently, church attendance may have been an issue in the First Century as well!
Question: But what about church itself? Why go to a church and see a man speak or hypocrites assemble?
Answer: I hope that you're not seriously thinking that that is what church is all about! Jesus Himself says that He sent pastors and teachers to build our faith "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" But not all of God's people accepted the good news. The prophet Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed our message?" Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ (Rom. 10:13-17). You see, these verses tell us that it is important for God's people to make sure that His message goes out from the group that knows it to the group that still needs to hear!
And then you must remember Matt. 16: 18,19 where Jesus says that He built the church. He owns it and He protects it. Or Matt. 18: 20 where He says that He gathers together with His followers when they come together. And I'm sure you must recall that Jesus Himself set the pattern for us of regular church attendance as we're told in Luke 4:16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was His custom.
Question: Frankly, I still don't see why I have to go to church. Can't I be a Christian by myself?
Answer: Let me answer by pointing you to I Cor. 12:14ff "Now the body is not made up of one part but of many...The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!"...there should be no division in the body, but its parts should have equal concern for each other...Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it." It sounds to me like you want to be independent and God tells us that we are to be interdependent like the limbs and organs of the human body!
Question: But there are so many "hypocrites" in churches today. Surely God knows that and wouldn't mind if I didn't mingle with them!
Answer: Perhaps now we're getting closer to your real objection to church - there are sinners there! IK have noticed that as well! And I am also a sinner and a hypocrite even though I do not want to be! The folks in church may even be people who know you! But consider this, you might even be called upon to take steps of obedience and accountability if you did begin to attend a church.
- Regarding "hypocrites" and others who may have hurt us or could hurt us, I recall Paul's words in Eph. 4:32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Incidentally, let's look a little closer at this issue of ‘hanging around sinners'. I suppose that you have the notion that church is for saints, or for holy people only. That is just not the case. Church is for sinners only. Anyone who is perfect has no need of church! All others should be in church! Jesus said that He came to seek and to save the lost. He said that it was the sick people that needed the doctors, - not the healthy ones! I'm sure you must recall that it was Jesus Himself who was accused by the real "hypocrites" of spending too much time with sinners!
- But you're right when you think that people in churches might hurt you. You're right if you think that leaders in a church have at times misled their flock. You're right if you think that all denominations have something wrong with them. And you'd be right again if you wanted to think that there really is no perfect denomination. But I trust that you now know that you're very wrong to stay away! God wants you in church this week and every week so that those in His body can build you up, so that your gifts can be exercised within His body and so that you can be a part of God's own program and God's own building.
Jan Paul Sattem