We live in an age where we can watch church services from the comfort of home. But what does the Bible say about Christians going to church?
“I don’t like the way they do things.”
“I’m an introvert—I just don’t like big groups of people.”
“I can get everything I need right here at home.”
Do any of these statements sound familiar? These are some excuses that people have made to convince themselves that regularly attending church services is unnecessary for today’s Christians.
Especially with the recent COVID-19 pandemic, people got a taste of the convenience and ease of watching church services from home. While some eagerly counted the days until they could be back with their congregations, others seemed to take a liking to the idea of no longer attending services in person.
In an age when church services are available from home, what purpose do in-person congregations actually serve? What does God expect from His Church? Does one actually have to go to church to be a Christian?
To learn more about this topic, read “What Is the Church?”
What does the Bible say about going to church?
Early on in His interactions with the nation of Israel, God made it clear that there was to be a “holy convocation” each Sabbath (Leviticus 23:3). God’s people are to assemble together on the seventh day. When people can attend Sabbath services but choose not to, they are effectively breaking the Fourth Commandment.
Even so, it was His custom to go to the synagogue on the Sabbath day—the equivalent of attending church in His time. By doing this, He set us an example to follow. If a Christian believes God’s command and desires to follow Jesus’ example, he or she has no excuse or reason to intentionally avoid attending church.
Hebrews 10:24-25 highlights an important purpose of the weekly gathering of God’s people: “to stir up love and good works” among members of the congregation. He goes on to write that God’s people should not be “forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another.”
The Bible is clear and consistent, revealing the same truth in the Old Testament and the New Testament: God’s people are to assemble every week on God’s Sabbath day.
God’s Church cannot properly function from home
Although modern technology has made it easy to get a sermon without attending services in person, there are certain functions of weekly church services that can’t occur at home.
In Romans 12:3-8, Paul discusses the different kinds of people found in God’s Church. These different personalities all serve different functions but make up one spiritual Body. In verse 5, Paul writes, “We, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.”
Then Paul highlights the importance of spiritual gifts. Each Christian should use his or her spiritual strengths to support the other brethren. God’s Church is stronger because of its diversity of gifts and because we are unified with one another.
Each Christian should use his or her spiritual strengths to support the other brethren.This is not a picture of a Church composed entirely of individual, stay-at-home Christians, nor is it a loose collection of people with similar ideals. God’s Church is meant to be of one mind, joined together in one (Philippians 1:27; 1 Peter 3:8).
The people who make up God’s Church can’t serve each other properly if they are intentionally isolated. In isolation, members’ needs will inevitably be overlooked, relationships will go undeveloped and individuals will be forgotten.
Someone who fails to see the importance of coming together with individuals of like mind also forgets the vital role that fellowship plays in a Christian’s spiritual development.
Paul’s writings make it clear that throughout his career he drew immense encouragement and spiritual strength from being together with like-minded brethren.
The necessity of fellowship
If Paul, one of the greatest teachers and most resolute personalities of the early Church, needed the encouragement that came from fellowshipping with the brethren, then there is not a Christian today who can say he or she doesn’t need it.
Some claim that they can be just as close to God without being part of a church. However, an individual Christian who makes no effort to be joined with his or her brethren is like one who is disconnected from “the true vine,” Jesus Christ (John 15:1-8).
Of course, this is not to condemn those who are physically unable to make it to services. There are individuals who, because of health or distance, have no choice but to remain home. In many cases, they deeply miss and desire the fellowship of their brethren. So, it is a Christian’s duty to try to care for these individuals, which itself requires being connected to the larger Body of believers.
Without a connection to the larger Church, where is a Christian’s love to be directed? Where is his or her service to be extended? How do his or her spiritual gifts get put to use? How does he or she practice service to others?
When viewed through the perspective of what God expects from His people, it’s clear that Christians cannot fulfill their purpose when, with another option available, they choose intentional isolation.
Be united with God’s Church
Through His Word, God makes it clear to believers that they must be united with others of like mind.
God built His Church for us so that we might encourage and inspire one another until the day of Christ’s return.
However, it is vital not only that we attend church, but also that we find the true Church spoken of in the Bible. To learn more about how to find God’s Church, download our booklet Where Is the Church Jesus Built?