I Don't Have to Go to Church to be a Christian . . . Or Do I?

I suppose it has always been popular to say, "I don't have to go to church to be a Christian."  Technically, that is correct.  Salvation is not earned, nor is it maintained, by doing good works - including attending church.  Only the grace of God saves us, and only the power of God preserves our salvation.   However, if you think God doesn't care if you attend church, you are wrong.

Hebrews 10:24-25 says, "And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching."

Make no mistake.  God does expect Christians to regularly assemble with other believers.  When you forsake this aspect of your faith, you are in direct violation of God's Word.  It is impossible to be a healthy Christian, and not be committed to a local church.

There are many good reasons why God commands Christians to physically assemble together.  We worship.  We organize for ministry and evangelism.  We grow in our faith.  And we enjoy fellowship and encouragement.

At this point there are always those who say, "I can worship at home or on the lake.  I can grow in my faith by watching a television sermon, or listening to a podcast.  I can contribute to ministry and missions by giving directly to charitable organizations and Christian causes.  Why do I need to attend a local church?"

Well first of all, if you actually do all those things on your own on a regular basis, congratulations.  You're a step ahead of me, and most other Christians I know.  But let's assume that's true.  Let's assume you are the model Christian, and have no need for the encouragement and accountability of other believers.

It doesn't matter.  Other believers need you.

Look again at Hebrews 10:24.  What is the first phrase in that verse? - "Let us consider one another."  Contrary to popular opinion, we don't just go to church for ourselves; we go to church for others.  We don't just go to church to receive; we go to church to give.  We go to church to be part of something bigger than ourselves...  The Body of Christ.  We need to remember this.

One final thought...  While it is technically correct to say that church attendance doesn't make one a Christian, 1 John 1:7 does add this little wrinkle, "if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another..."  You may not have to go to church to be a Christian but, on the other hand, you may not be a Christian if you don't go to church.