If you’ve been following along with our 31 Days of Worship and Music series, I welcome you back. If you’re new here, I would encourage you to check back with some of the previous posts in the series – but it’s not required. I have intentionally planned the series so that each day’s message builds on those before, but so that each could also stand alone. I know how life is, and I know it’s hard to get around to reading something every day. Stop by when you can…comment when you feel led…whatever you want to do. I’m just glad you’re here, and my prayer is that God speaks to something inside you somehow while you’re here.
There is a dangerous idea running rampant among self-declared Christ-followers. If you’ve been a Christian for any amount of time, you’ve probably heard it…and you may, like me, have even said it yourself. It is not an inherently incorrect statement, but it undermines what the church is about and, in essence, says there is no need for the church in the first place.
What are people saying?
“I don’t have to go to church to be a Christian.”
And it isn’t wrong to say so. As we said just yesterday, in fact, church is in no way a requirement for following Christ or worshiping Him. Worship can be done anywhere, at any time, in many ways. The Bible does tell us to worship God, yes, but it does not anywhere say, “Worship God every Sunday morning by entering a place with the word ‘church’ on the sign.” Church, per se, is not required of us. To make church attendance a requirement of the Christian life is to practice legalism….which paradoxically says we don’t believe in the sufficiency of Christ to begin with (and in which case we don’t really believe in Christ at all).
If that is true, then, why is church such a big deal? Why do we go to church? Why do good Christian families bring their children up going to church every Sunday? Why does church matter?
God never intended for Christian life to be a solo endeavor. The Bible is full of metaphors indicating that Christians are not meant to stand alone: we are a flock, a body, a holy nation. God never meant for worship of Himself to be done solely as individuals; one of the first things Christ Himself did when He began His public ministry was to surround Himself with others. This was the beginning of the Church, yes, but was also an indication that human nature was created for community. When God Himself put on human flesh, He looked for others with whom He could take the journey. God Himself sought community. And community – the living of life together with others – is at its best when it is built on that which is central to its members.
Homeschooling mamas look to other homeschooling mamas for support and encouragement.
Alcoholics cling to other alcoholics in pursuit of sobriety.
Students form study groups with others in their class to work together toward their shared goal.
Writers and bloggers come together with other writers to learn from one another and encourage each other in their callings.
And worshipers of God come together with others who worship God to encourage and be encouraged…and to more fully experience a life of worship.
Even the most personal, private, individual efforts are enriched when they are joined to a bigger picture. Church connects us to the biggest picture of all.
So no, you don’t have to go to church to be a Christian. You don’t have to be a member of a church to love God. But if you want the richest experience of God that you can have on this side of heaven, church is the only way to get it.