Hebrews 10:23-25 (NLT)23 Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.24 Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
In his book The Christian Atheist, Craig Groeschell has a section titled “When You Believe In God But Not In His Church” (a Christian Atheist is somebody who says that they believe in God but live as if He doesn’t exist) . One of the sections of that book is “When You Believe In God But Not In His Church”. In that section Craig says that many Christian Atheists don’t really believe in the church.
There are lots of Christians that say they don’t “do church”. They don’t “do church” for various reasons. They had a bad experience with a church member, or pastor, they fell for a false teaching and got hurt, they don’t see any difference in church goers and people who don’t go, or are not even believers. They think they can read the bible and gain as much knowledge by themselves as if they went to church every week. Church repulses them because they feel it’s full of hypocrites. Other people accept that people are hypocrites by nature; they just can’t stand churches talking about money.
Even if they can get past those issues, still others steer clear because church is irrelevant to their everyday lives. Some may even want to attend church, but when they do, they feel even guiltier than they did before. The pastor and all the other “put-together, perfect people” just make them feel worse about themselves. They tried church before, and it didn’t make a difference. So why bother?
Finally, there a the “super spiritual”. Their ideals are so high that no church can possibly meet their standards. They have detailed lists of what’s wrong with each church in town. The worship music isn’t “Spirit-led” enough, or it’s too loud, too soft, or too whatever. The sermons are too shallow or too intellectual. The missions program isn’t aggressive enough or it’s all the church talks about. They spend too much money on the building or not enough.
Here’s the thinking of a lot of Christians today. We can get all the Christian content we need from websites, podcasts, and books—even television and radio.
I don't have a big problem with Christian television, radio, and tape ministries, websites (I have one),but they are no substitute for regular attendance and involvement in worship services, ministry outreaches, and educational programs of a local church.
The Bible tells us we need to attend church so we can worship God with other believers and be taught His Word for our spiritual growth. The early church was devoted to hearing God’s word and in fellowship with one another every day.
Acts 2:42 (NLT)42 All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.
We should follow their example which includes meeting together. They didn’t have church building so, they met in the temple courts and then went to their homes to fellowship, and they did this everyday.
Acts 2:43-47 (NLT)43 A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders.44 And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had.45 They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need.46 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity--47 all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.
When asked what was the greatest commandment Jesus answered this way;
Matthew 22:36-40 (NLT)36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment.39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
The church allows you to both, to love God and love your neighbor. The church is God’s vehicle to meet, through other human beings, people's true needs. In order to do that the church needs needs every believer.
The Apostle Paul compares the church to a human body that needs and uses every part.
Romans 12:4-8 (NLT)4 Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function,5 so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.6 In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you.7 If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well.8 If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.
Scripture Requires Church Attendance And That You Join A Local Church
Editor’s Note: The following is from “According to Scripture, Why Should Every Christian Join a Church?" By Mark Dever and 9Marks Ministries. Full Scriptures added by me.
Every Christian should join a church because Scripture requires it. Granted, there is no direct command in Scripture that says, “Every Christian must join a local church,” but two factors in Scripture indicate that every Christian should be a member of a local church.
Jesus established the church to be a public, earthly institution that would mark out, affirm, and oversee those who profess to believe in him.
Matthew 16:18-19 (NLT2)18 Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.19 And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”
Matthew 18:15-20 (NLT2)15 “If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back.16 But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses.17 If the person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. Then if he or she won’t accept the church’s decision, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector.18 “I tell you the truth, whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.19 “I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you.20 For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”
Jesus established the church to publicly declare those who belong to him in order to give the world a display of the good news about himself.
John 17:21-23 (NLT2)21 I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.
22 “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one.23 I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.
Ephesians 3:10 (NLT2)10 God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
Jesus wants the world to know who belongs to him and who doesn’t. And how is the world to know who belongs to him and who doesn’t? They are to see which people publicly identify themselves with his people in the visible, public institution he established for this very purpose. They’re to look at the members of his church. And if some people claim to be part of the universal church even though they belong to no local church, they reject Jesus’ plan for them and his church. Jesus intends for his people to be marked out as a visible, public group, which means joining together in local churches.
Scripture repeatedly commands Christians to submit to their leaders.
Hebrews 13:17 (NLT2)17 Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.
1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 (NLT2)12 Dear brothers and sisters, honor those who are your leaders in the Lord’s work. They work hard among you and give you spiritual guidance.13 Show them great respect and wholehearted love because of their work. And live peacefully with each other.
The only way to do that is by publicly committing to be members of their flock, and saying in effect, “I commit to listening to your teaching, following your direction, and to submitting to your leadership.” There’s no way to obey the scriptural commands to submit to your leaders if you never actually submit to them by joining a local church.
A Place to Believe
In addition to belonging, church also gives us a place to grow spiritually.
Romans 10:17 (NLT)17 So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.
Our faith grows as we hear God’s Word taught and proclaimed. We are then to live out what we have heard which is evidence of our faith.
James 1:22 (NLT)22 But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.
James 2:26 (NLT)26 Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works.
God uses the church to minister to us, draw us closer to Him, and to equip us.
Ephesians 4:11-12 (NLT)11 Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers.12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.
But it’s not just for us. God has commissioned the church to deliver the message of salvation to the world.
Matthew 28:18-20 (NLT)18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
The church continues to grow throughout the world because its people understand that the church exists not for them but for those who don’t yet know Christ. The church is changing lives, and the world, for good, for God.
"Those who isolate themselves from other believers do so at their own peril, because the Bible tells us that it is important to get together, encourage one another, and correct one another.". . A true Christian will want to be around other Christians. After all, why should God go to your house if you won't go to His? A lot of us want all of the fringe benefits of Christianity without applying ourselves. - Greg Laurie (from "What Makes an 'Authentic' Christian?")