Do I Have To Attend Church If I'm a Christian?
One of the most cited Scripture verses when people discuss church is Hebrews 10:25:
And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his returning is drawing near.
Ask any Christian if you have to go to church, and most times they will simply start quoting this verse. Then the conversation usually closes with the assumption that this verse answers the question, and yes, you have to go to church.
But let’s hold up and actually examine this.
First, notice the fundamental difference in the words. The verse uses the words, 'meeting together', not the word 'church'. This is very important when you consider this: the word church in the Bible does not mean a building.
If church were a building, how would these verses make sense?
But while Peter was in prison, the church prayed very earnestly for him. (Acts 12:5)
“So guard yourselves and God’s people. Feed and shepherd God’s flock - his church, purchased with his own blood - over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as elders.” (Acts 20:28)
Until I get there, focus on reading the Scriptures to the church, encouraging the believers, and teaching them. (1. Timothy 4:1)
Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. (Ephesians 4:12)
So, the Bible defines church as the body of Christ. Church is a group of Christians. 148 verses in the Bible use the word church, and every single time it means an organism of people, not a structure.
So we come back around: Do I have to go to church if I am a Christian? The answer is: No. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that you have to be involved in a modern style “ church “ if you are a Christian.
We should absolutely not neglect meeting together. But the early Christians met in homes and even catacombs (because of persecution). God’s Word does not say we have to meet in a building with a Cross on top of it.
So we have to ask ourselves: Is the modern church system the best way to “meet together”? I think the individual should figure that out for themselves. I have my own opinions on church. In fact, I see a lot of problems with church which I want to open for discussion. Here are a few…
Number 1: The concept of a “ pastor” is a cornerstone of the modern church system, yet the word “pastor” is found only once in the entire Bible, mentioned in kind of a passing way, and the passage never describes what a pastor is or what his duties are.
Here is the verse: Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. (Ephesians 4:11)
Don’t you think God would talk about or describe pastors and their duties more, if He thought it were important we have them?
Number 2: The fact that church has been redefined seems kind of important to me. We have taken a word from the Bible that means a united gathering of souls saved by the power of Christ and reduced it to mean the structure they meet in.
Words have meaning, and meanings have consequences.
Number 3: The model the church uses for ministries is nowhere in the Bible. The system of youth ministries, young adult ministries, women’s ministries, men’s ministries, college ministries etc., all being funded by working people and set apart as being “God’s work”, simply cannot be found in the pages of Scripture.
Number 4: The concept of tithing, the way the modern church funds itself, is mentioned in one verse in the New Testament (except where Paul is referring to the OT). Tithing was an Old Testament rule. It supported the priests and Temple during those times. Tithing as a way to support church structures and pay pastor’s salaries is not in the Bible. Why then is tithing such a huge thing in churches today? Pastors constantly talk about tithing. Heck, without tithing, organized church would not exist! (That might be a clue right there.)
Number 5: If going to church is such a good thing, why is there such moral rot within the churches? Why are there news stories about pastors committing adultery and worse? Why are pastor’s children notorious for their bad behavior? We have a church on nearly every street corner in America, yet look at the evaporation of Biblical values.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe in God and am saved by the grace of Christ. I believe Christians should meet together, but I can’t help but question the way we meet together when I see the rampant sin going on in churches and consider what the Bible says (or doesn’t say) about church.
What do you think?
I Want To Know What You Think.
Do you think the modern way we do church is Biblical?
© 2014 Asa Schneidermann