The Bible’s Answer
Yes, Christians should go to church, because it’s an important aspect of every Christian’s life. Church is the place Christians go to learn about God’s Word, the Bible (1 Timothy 4:13), to worship him (Psalm 116:12–14), to have their faith strengthened and refreshed (Romans 10:17; Matthew 26:26–28), and to have fellowship with other believers (Hebrews 10:24–25).
Is It Possible to Be a Christian and Not Go to Church?
Despite the importance of church, it is possible to be a saved Christian and to never/rarely attend church. This is because salvation means that your sins have been forgiven and that you have been reconciled to God through the blood of Christ (Romans 5:9–10), which is applied to us in God’s means of grace, and received by faith (Romans 5:1).
There may even be reasonable excuses for not going: for example, you may live in a city or village where there are no Bible-believing churches present, or, you may have a serious medical condition which prevents you from leaving the house much. If such situations apply to you, then praying and reading the Bible regularly in the privacy of your home is a great way to maintain and strengthen your relationship with Christ.
Why Not Going to Church Is Not Good
However, this does not mean that it’s good to not attend church. Unfortunately, most people who identify as Christians and who still refuse to attend church don’t have valid reasons, and simply do so because they feel they don’t need it, or that it’s inconvenient, or that they’ve got better things to do, etc. In fact, many of these people aren’t true Christians, but simply identify as such because of their parents’ beliefs, their society’s culture, or of their being baptised as infants. However, some of these people do have a genuine relationship with Jesus, but they still refuse to attend church. So, why is such a decision not a good one?
One of the primary reasons, is that the only place you can receive Holy Communion is at church. The reason being is that it is a communal meal, where believers celebrate together the victory of Christ through his death on the cross (1 Corinthians 11:26), so it’s not simply a meal that anyone can prepare for themselves at home. Furthermore, the bread and wine in the sacrament is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 10:16; 11:27), and all partakers of the meal freely receive the forgiveness of sins, and have their faith strengthened (Matthew 26:26–28).
Therefore, due to the nature of the meal, it can only be prepared and consecrated in a careful and holy way in the church setting. It is also meant to be a meal that’s celebrated on multiple occasions, as the Lord said “Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me” (1 Corinthians 11:25). For those who don’t go to church regularly, they miss out on this free gift of Christ.
The Spoken Word of God
Another reason is that church is where we hear the Word of God preached to us. The Bible teaches that “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17), and that preachers are sent to preach the word of Christ (Romans 10:14–15). Whenever you listen to the pastor in church preach, the Holy Spirit works through the message to renew and stimulate saving faith in your heart. This ties into the fact that God has appointed pastors as shepherds of the church (1 Timothy 3:1–7). They are to exercise oversight, set an example to the believers (1 Peter 5:1–3), give instruction in sound doctrine and rebuke those who contradict it (Titus 1:9), and care for God’s church (1 Timothy 3:4–5).
The Bible instructs Christians to obey and submit to their pastors, because they keep watch over their souls (Hebrews 13:17). It also gives a separate instruction for younger Christians to be subject to their pastors, since they are especially in need of spiritual guidance (1 Peter 5:5). Clearly, the Bible indicates that church should be a normal and important part of every Christians’ life.
The New Testament Christians Attended Church
Moreover, the Christians of the Bible, including the apostles themselves, attended church. For example, we are told that elders were appointed in every church in Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch (Acts 14:23). We are told that the apostles were sent to strengthen the churches in the faith (Acts 15:40–41; 16:5–6). We are told that the church prayed together for one another (Acts 12:5), and distributed money and possessions to the poor members (1 Corinthians 16:1–3; Acts 6:1–6). We see that Christians gathered together on the first day of the week (Sunday) to break bread and listen to the pastors preach (Acts 20:7). We are told that Christians devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, fellowship with one another, the breaking of bread, and prayers (Acts 2:42–44).
The Bible says “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16). The Bible also teaches us not to neglect regularly meeting together and encouraging one another (Hebrews 10:24–25). Throughout the centuries, Christians have always used church buildings as the places for meeting one another, worshipping and praying together, and having fellowship in a safe, peaceful environment.
The Church According to the Bible
In various passages the Bible refers to the church in metaphorical language as Christ’s body. We, though many, are one body in Christ through baptism (1 Corinthians 12:13), and individually members of one another (Romans 12:4–5). Christ is the head of the body, the most important part, and from him all the members of the church are joined to one another; when each part is working properly, the body grows so that it builds itself up in love (Ephesians 4:15–16). God has carefully arranged us in his church in such a way that there may be no division among us, and that we may have the same care for one another, in the same way that we would take care of each member of our bodies equally (1 Corinthians 12:18–20, 22–26).
In the same way that body members have different functions, God has given each member of the body of Christ a unique gift for serving one another, such as speaking oracles, serving by the strength of God (1 Peter 4:10–11), teaching, doing acts of mercy, leading, etc. (Romans 12:6–8). He has also appointed different offices in the church for building up one another, such as apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, teachers, etc. (Ephesians 4:11–12; 1 Corinthians 12:28–30). Christians are the church, and we are all one family that is led by Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27). By abandoning God’s community, the church, we are depriving ourselves of the family that God has given us for strengthening our faith, supporting us, and building up one another.
These reasons should suffice to prove that church is important, and that every Christian who is able to should regularly attend a local Bible-believing church, since this is the will of God. In church, we receive the sacrament of Holy Communion for the nurturing and strengthening of our faith, we hear the Word of Christ preached to us for our counsel, sanctification, and edification, we receive guidance in our lives as disciples of Christ, and we are involved, encouraged, and supported in the community that God made us to be.
Unfortunately, it’s very easy for us to make excuses to not go, and do our own things instead; however, as Christians, we should prioritise God and his will in our lives above all else. In reality, it’s not too much of a burden to take just one morning, afternoon, or evening out of our week to go to church, worship God, and receive his gifts, especially when we consider the fact that God is our Lord and King, the great spiritual benefits of church, as well as the importance that the Bible places on it.