When I’m looking over the statistics for the people who visit this blog, I can also see the search terms that bring people to my site. Many of them are interesting. One that seems to keep popping is, “Do I have to go to church to be saved,” or “can I be a Christian and not go to church” or some kind of variation of that. I thought I would touch on this today and try to answer this question to the best of my ability. Let’s just remember that my Bible knowledge is led by the Holy Spirit and not a degree or deep theological study, so if you have anything to add, please, please do so.
The first thing that comes to my mind when thinking about those inquiries is why do people not want to go to church? I know that the bad experiences that people have with other people in the church deter them from wanting to attend and more active in the church. Many people don’t want to deal with the drama that surrounds “church folks” so they just stay home. They might think watching church on TV or listening to Gospel music is enough to stay right in God’s eyes. Or they may have had a really bad experience with a church member and blame God. Trust and believe I have had some bad church experiences so I understand how one might question God for allowing His people to act stank. What people do, obviously, isn’t always what God wants.
God wants us to fellowship with one another. He wants us to gather together to help each other heal and so that we can work as on accord to spread the Gospel. We need people. And people are flawed and stupid inside of church and outside. So if we realized how important it is for us to be educated, edified and your talents and gifts to be discovered, then we would have a stronger mindset to stay involved in some sort of ministry.
God wants us, as unique individuals, to use what we have to glorify Him. He doesn’t want you to come to church and think the only way you can be effective is to be a preacher, teacher or a singer. If you like gardening, God wants to use you. Me, I like to write from a very personal perspective. I also ‘tweet’ for my church, how unique is that! I KNOW God is using that to help Him further His cause. A church that can help you understand God more fluently can help you translate your gifts and talents into something that edifies.
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.
1 Corinthians 12:4-6
I believe, and would venture to say that God believes that He doesn’t want us to be trying to go at life all alone spiritually. I mean, there are people who need to be alone and need sabbaticals. And ultimately the relationship that you cultivate with God is a personal one. But Proverbs 27:17 says that “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” We need each other to perfect each other. How else are we supposed to perfect the principals of forgiveness, charity and love if we don’t practice them? Someone being a jerk and out of line is the perfect scenario to show God as a forgiver and redeemer.
Unless you are being a misfit and unruly, no one can tell you not to come to church. No one should make it uncomfortable for you to come to church. No one can tell you because you are a sinner, and you are working through problems that you shouldn’t be at church.
On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 2and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
1 Corinthians 12:22-26
It is important that you join a church that allows you to be you, that teaches you the Word correctly and diligently (and not a personal agenda or opinion) and that you know that people need you to be part of the body of Christ. Jesus tells us to love one, and how else are we supposed to do this? So to answer the question, what makes one Christian is believing in Jesus as your Lord and Savior. If you believe in what Jesus believes, than you will go to church and be active there. One must develop a Christian lifestyle and act out what they believe.
I would tell you to pray and ask God for a church and actively seek one out, just like you would look for a job. I’d also beg you to please, please, please don’t let people deter you from learning, growing and serving for God.