Monday, March 30, 2020

Can You Be a Christian If You Don't Go to Church?

For everyone of us, the story of how we came to Jesus is different. For some it was a radical conversion whilst for others it was a gradual process. The one thing that is consistent in the stories of this special moment in a Christians life, is that it was intensely personal. Whether it took place in an auditorium filled with thousands of people, or alone on a bed in the middle of the night, each person felt something that was exclusively felt by them. It was a life changing moment and one that most people never forget.

So if the moment of becoming a follower of Christ is so incredibly personal, why do we then have to join a church? Surely we can follow Christ and stay home? So long as we read our Bible's, pray and live in a way that will bring glory and honour to God, what on earth do we have to go to church for?

Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than sitting in a garage makes you a car. However, it is clear through various scriptures that God does want us to meet together, that He does want us to work together - Romans 12:4-5 'Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ's body. We are many parts of one body and we all belong to each other.' God has equipped us all with different gifts and talents and the only way that these gifts are going to be used effectively is if they are used in conjunction with one another. Some people are given a gift of singing, others of organizing or teaching, whilst still others are encouragers or leaders. The list of gifts and talents is long and varied and many people have more than one but if God wanted us to live autonomously then He would have given us all, all of the gifts!

What going to church does for us is give us the opportunity to grow in wisdom and the understanding of God's word; the chance to be with like-minded people with a common perspective; the opportunity to share honestly about the challenges you are facing and the encouragement and wisdom to get you through. It also gives you the opportunity to be more effective in helping others. When an entire congregation gets involved in a community upliftment programme it is able to accomplish so much more than if only a handful of people got involved.

However, we have to face the realities that for many people getting to a church is not possible. There are many reasons that people are unable to get to Church. Some examples are that they either live in a remote area, are housebound due to illness or else live in a country where Christians are persecuted. The inability to gather with other Christians (which is what "Church" is), does not make them less of a Christian. God has placed them in those situations and locations for His plans and purposes.

This does not mean that we should all stop attending Church. Hebrews 10:25 says "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."

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