Do I Have to Go to Church?
Let’s assume for a minute that you no longer attend weekly church services, whether those services take place in a cathedral, a mega-church campus, a rural church building, a rented facility (storefront, school, community center, etc) or even a home-based congregation. But you still believe, as I do, that people need to hear the powerful message of the gospel (Romans 1:16) and embrace Jesus Christ by grace through faith in order to be saved (Ephesians 2: 8-9).
So you’ve been sharing the good news of God’s grace with a co-worker named Maggie over the past year and you begin seeing evidence of the Holy Spirit’s work in her life. Not so much the externals (she often brings her Bible to read during breaks), but things the Bible describes as the “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-26) in a life that was clearly devoid of these things a year ago. She has become a trophy of God’s grace and you’re absolutely thrilled over this wonderful transformation in her life.
Maggie has never attended any sort of church service except the typical Christmas and Easter productions at a local mega-church, but she knows that many of her neighbors “go to church” because she sees them leaving their homes, almost simultaneously, during her Sunday morning jog. She’s often wondered why these people they invest so much time in church activities—purely on a practical level—knowing that Sunday is the only real day off for many of the parents. Their kids are involved in the same intramural sports teams, piano lessons, martial arts classes, and the whole raft of birthday parties that seem to occupy every Saturday. So she cringes when she thinks about waking her nine-year-old and his two teenaged siblings every Sunday morning to get them ready for Sunday School.
So Maggie decides to ask you a few questions, since you’re the one who introduced her to Jesus:
- “Do I have to go to church to be a real Christian?”
- “Where does the Bible say that I have to go to church? One of my neighbors keeps inviting me, saying that God shows up nearly every week at their church, but I can’t find anything in the Bible about church attendance.”
- “Where do you go to church?”
How would you respond to this new Christian?