We Don’t Have To Go To “Church”

The Power of Being Present

It’s beautiful outside, we’re off for the day, why not spend time with family?  Do we really have to go to church every single Sunday?  After all, we’re saved by grace, not by how much we attend church services…right?

Going to church

Growing up…

Attending church was our family’s normal activity each Sunday. There were times, however, when we didn’t find ourselves lined in a pew, but those moments were usually reserved for holiday travel, or sickness.  And remember, if sick, that also meant we were to stay home from all other activity that day as well.  How many times did I hear, “If you’re well enough to go to [insert location], you’re well enough to go to church!”

Fast forward to today…

I now have my own family and pastor a local assembly.  Among believers, the idea of “church” still seems positive, but some things have changed.  Many people have gradually adjusted their church attendance from weekly to bi-weekly, or even monthly.  Work schedules now include every day of the week.  Sunday shopping is now normal activity. And probably the biggest change of all – the church is no longer the centre of the community.1

Are we missing something?

I think we may have misunderstood the concept of “attending church.”  We tend to be people of extremes.  Traditionally, if we missed a Sunday, it meant we were nearly “back-sliding,” and falling away from God.  But the truth is – church attendance is by no means a measure of our salvation or spirituality.  We could attend church our whole lives, and never experience God’s grace and love.  That doesn’t mean, however, that being absent from a local church is wise.  A Christian who doesn’t commit themselves to a local church, is missing some key aspects to their spiritual journey.

1.     The Church is made up of Believers.

The Church is not something we attend, it’s who we are.  The local assembly that we call our “home church” is not a separate identity.  We, as believers, help make up the Church, and help make up the local assembly.  For example, I belong to Bethel Pentecostal Church.  On Sunday morning, I don’t attend Bethel, I, along with other believers, make up Bethel.  If I’m missing Sunday, Bethel is missing my contribution.  The Church is only partially present when we choose to be absent. The local church is not a separate identity that we chose to attend, we are the Church!  (1 Corinthians 12)

The Church is only partially present when we choose to be absent. #Church #Discipleship #BeingPresent Click To Tweet

2.     The Church is a Family.

Sunday is like a weekly reunion of our spiritual family.  We may have so many differences and unique roles; however, we’re all connected with Jesus Christ.  In Christ, we are brothers and sisters and make up the Church family.  I think we tend to forget this powerful connection we have to one another.  When we choose to be present, we choose to grow closer as a spiritual family. (1 Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:28; 1 John 5:1)

3.     The Church is Supportive of One Another.

Each time we meet together as a community of believers, we bring unity to the next level.  When we feel pain, we feel pain together.  When we experience joy, we experience joy together.  Sometimes we need to encourage others.  Other times we need to experience some encouragement ourselves. When we choose to be present, we choose to engage in this powerful relationship. (1 Corinthians 12:26)

What happens if we choose to be present?

I know many have to work, are on shift-work, are sick from time to time, and otherwise live busy lives, but sometimes we simply choose to be absent. What would happen if we couldn’t wait to come together on Sunday?

  • We would experience…

…God’s personal plan for us.  Together, with the help of the Church family, we would receive the encouragement we need, the strength we require, and the discipleship that will help us grow.  Yes, we could experience some of that in personal devotions, but Jesus didn’t call individuals into private ministry.  Jesus called and discipled 12 individuals, sent out those 12, and later sent 72 in groups of 2 (Luke 6, 9, 10).  Later, in Acts, we see the Church grow in a similar way.

  • The Church would experience…

…God’s unified plan as a group of believers.  Church services are never about the numbers, however, God is calling us to be the spiritual family others need.  Everyone has different gifts and abilities that work together in strength.  How amazing would it be, if everyone attended the Sunday service with the intention of seeing the Church grow through them?

  • We’ll teach those who follow us that the commitment is worth it!

No matter who we are, someone is watching and learning.  If we choose to be present, others will learn the commitment to join together on Sunday is completely worth it.  Not only will we be able to grow together, but the Church will be alive together.

If we're present, we teach the commitment to Sunday services is worth it! #Church #Discipleship Click To Tweet

Final thoughts…

No, as Christians, we don’t HAVE to attend church.  But, if we have the day off, why not spend our Sunday with our spiritual family?

Many of our church-related issues and conflicts are founded in our lack of spiritual expectations.  Some may even say, “The Church of today is very negative, and not living up to this theoretical post.” The truth is, believers individually make up the Church and we can only ourselves, choose to grow.

God is calling us to rise up and BE HIS CHURCH!

Don’t miss out on becoming the Church and participating within the family of God!  After all, one day all believers will be together for eternity.  It might be nice if we actually knew each other.

Your turn…

How do you view the Church?  How do you individually contribute to the body of Christ?

I would love to hear from you!  Feel free to comment below, on social media, or by email (andrewholm@gmail.com).  SUBSCRIBE HERE!

References   [ + ]

Andrew lives in Bay Roberts, Newfoundland with his wife, Deidre, and two children (Rae and Pierson), where he is the Lead Pastor of Bethel Pentecostal Church. He is a graduate of both Memorial University (BBA) and Tyndale Seminary (MTS). His passion is to help people become true disciples of Jesus.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Top of the morning to ya brother!

    I wanted to pop over and enter in on what you’re opening up! This is wildly lovely – truly, I was well pleased to read your thoughts this morning.

    I do not comment often on websites, however I was inspired to do so after your comment to me about not forgetting to join in on other conversations and not obsessing over my own. So, thank you. I by no means am the most studied or intelligent, but thank you for pushing me to be vulnerable with my thoughts.

    I’ve spent some time this passed year dwelling amongst the more reformed, and was delightfully caught off guard by people with a high view of church and a high view of worship. Three snippets, I was enlightened on our liturgical condition – we are liturgical animals, I heard one say. We are people of pattern, our morning routine, the way we interact with culture, our personal habits, the we speak, our shopping, emotions, so on and so on. That being said, it applies to our worship or church gatherings. The argument is, gathering is vastly important in the faith in that everything we do forms us, our view of who God is, and we participate in the world, together and as individuals. Our regular-ness, is important on our human side of this human-divine interaction happening, It reminds us of who God is, who we are to him, who we are to each other, and what we are part of in the earths context. In essence, when we gather, what we gather around, and how we gather deeply forms us a regular people. This applies to money, family, works, art, writing, etc – but especially church gatherings, it informs our thoughts, hearts, you name it. Ideally, pattern doesn’t form tired religion, but rather continually and beautifully enhances and awakens Jesus followers to what we are part of.

    I hope that makes sense. I think if we are liturgical animals, a people of pattern regardless of church gatherings, the question becomes how could we not gather together.

    Secondly, a high view of you and me. In theological scope, I’ve dipped my toes into a high view of what happens between Christians even at a hand shake or eye contact, or even just in thought about each other. If we are so tangled with this Holy Ghost, you, I, our neighbour, and we are truly many parts of a same body, I have to believe there is something wonderful and magical happening between us when we are in the same place and in contact with each other. The most basic doctrine of Christianity is unity, so when we are not just united in thought or agreement on an issue, but are face to face, hand to hand, eye to eye, in a hug, etc – I have to believe there is something so wildly happening in the spiritual word, it’s like a true taste of how the world is meant to be. If there are two worlds, this one and the heavenly realms, our actual togetherness I think creates beauty when we are together – if we are filled and it is the actual pleasure and desire of Jesus himself for us to be together.

    So in essence, thank you for commenting on that it can be helpful when we are together.

    Thirdly, redemption. If the world is chaotic – politics, budget scandals, sex-trade, drug circles, student debt, divorce, affairs, war, etc – the world being the world. Every time I get up to lead worship, I can’t help but think that if we were to take a bird’s eye view of the globe, that the moment we are all seated in a place together singing, praying, breaking bread, thinking, enjoying art, listening to God, etc, that this is a true moment of redemption, a true moment of the kingdom happening, in real time, here on the earth.

    All that being said, I don’t think we can be Christian if we are not part of Jesus’ body, which sounds weird to anyone who is not part of the faith, but means if we are not part of the Church. Our expressions of how we gather can differ, but I think gathering is essential.

    Anyways, I have ranted and rambled enough for now. I deeply admire you good sir! Your regularity in posting, your heart, and every time I read your posts I am reminded of our good-times together, they are memories I cherish and were moments of deep encouragement for me!

    Love ya!
    Jase

    • Jason, my friend… thanks for sharing! I love the idea of being “liturgical animals” 🙂 …fantastic!