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Do I Have To Attend Church If I'm a Christian?

Updated on September 12, 2015

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?

See results

© 2014 Asa Schneidermann


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    • Asa2141 profile image

      Asa Schneidermann 2 years ago from Boise

      The Bible says it is our commitment to meet with the church. The Bible defines church as the body of believers, not a building. Nowhere in the Bible that I know does not say you have to attend a church.

    • Gevex Gendric profile image

      Gevex Gendric Torre Dispo 2 years ago from San Fabian , Pangasinan , Philippines

      It's our obligation to go to church at least sometimes if not all the times .

      It's our commitment to the church of God and visiting the house of God .

    • Asa2141 profile image

      Asa Schneidermann 3 years ago from Boise

      Thank you very much.

    • profile image

      graceinus 3 years ago from those of the Ekklesia

      Asa2141- You are on the right track. Keep it up. I will continue to follow your Hub's.

      God bless

    • Asa2141 profile image

      Asa Schneidermann 3 years ago from Boise

      I have been in a house church before that was almost cultish. It was inward and ingrown! I did not know how to express it before until you said that, but I knew in my gut that it was not right.

      The Bible DOES talk about Christian leaders, but not this permanent, salaried person with everyone hanging onto his every word and looking to him for "spiritual nourishment". There are naturally going to be leaders in ANY group of people, but this modern idea of pastor is taking it way, way too far.

      We do have to keep from saying to ourselves that the whole world is just stupid and surrounding ourselves with a bunch of people that agree with us because that is not what Christ wants us to do either. That is why I started writing for Hubpages. I wanted to hopefully encourage a few people (or at least put the idea in their head) that this church system is not in the Bible and can easily be destructive to us.

    • deorganicchurch profile image

      deorganicchurch 3 years ago from Newark, DE

      In the Greek, the word church means assembly, more specifically, an assembly called out for a specific purpose. Christians met together primarily in homes for the first few centuries after Christ's ascension, and church buildings became popular after Constantine made his corrupted version of Christianity a state religion. This sowed the seeds for much of our modern traditional church concept. The paid professional clergy became more prominent, and the organic body movement where the church participated in the meetings diminished. If you want to know more about the relationship between pastor, elder and other words used to describe a shepherding member of the body, read my article "Senior Pastor Biblical". Not everyone agrees with my point of view, but I think it is a balanced presentation of what the Scriptures reveal in this area.

      It does seem to be true that where no one leads the assembly, it tends to be small and immature in the knowledge of the Lord. The Fellowship is great, but there is a strong tendency to turn inward and become ingrown. Some people like church that way and have little interest in reaching out to the rest of the world for Christ. As nasty as a lot of people are these days, I could almost go that way in my flesh and say to heck with all of them and just turn in toward my fellow Christians in the house church and forget the rest of the world. My flesh has a tendency to feel that they aren't doing anything for me, so why should I do anything for them, but this is carnal thinking. I have to put on the mind of Christ and realize that the church has a mission to raise up disciples for the Lord. I certainly do agree that the traditional church is lacking in many ways. I am glad you have come to realize that what is considered modern church is far from the example outlined in the Bible. Keep pressing into the truth.

    • Asa2141 profile image

      Asa Schneidermann 3 years ago from Boise

      Thanks PlanksandNails. I could not agree more,

      Also, think of what would happen if our society were permeated with Christians living out their Christianity, instead of keeping it boxed up in the confines of "church".

    • PlanksandNails profile image

      PlanksandNails 3 years ago from among the called out ones of the ekklesia of Christ


      Great article that expresses the current condition of "Churchianity." When I left the religion of "attending," I was able to hear God's voice more clearly without all of the distracting voices of those who are salaried-to-serve twisting Scripture through denominational lens to further their agenda. I choose to believe in the words of Jesus Christ,

      For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” - Matthew 18:20

      The true Church are living stones that are not built with mans hands, but man has built buildings with their own hands on every other street corner, given themselves their own name with professional salaried clergy running it, and they call it "church." If only people would read Scripture for themselves instead of someone else doing it for them they would realize they have been duped, that the word "church" has been hijacked to mean something completely different.

      God bless you and keep writing.