Wednesday 2 September 2015

Do you have to go to Church to be a Christian?

I put it out there recently and have said to real-life friends and those I know on social media that I'd love to answer their questions relating to my faith. As I get to know someone I often find that they then feel more comfortable to ask me about what makes me a Christian and what I believe. I am always happy to share but I'll be honest, they are not always easy or comfortable conversations as the answers I give have to be truthful and sometimes they are not what the person wants to hear.

I've now got a few questions lined up to answer and I am really happy to take more, so if you have something you would like to ask (even if it is really forthright) then leave me a comment or send me an email.

You'll have seen from the title of this blog post what the question is today - Do you have to go to church to be a Christian? - and this is what a friend Katie asked me the other day. Here is my perspective and I'll give bible references to support my belief but you may find that other Christians believe something different to me and this is the complex part of my faith, many feel the bible is open to interpretation but I choose to believe the bible is the word of God and is to be taken as such.

Do you have to go to church to be a Christian? 

Simple answer - no, but it really is not as simple as that. I have to turn to the bible as a Christian's instruction manual for life and see what that says. The first verse that comes to mind is -
 "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV)
"Not giving up meeting" is quite clear, we must continue to meet and encourage each other. Does it have to be in a building labelled 'church'? No, not at all. Church is the people of God, not a building. This is why more and more churches now meet in warehouses, schools, parks and often homes. A church can have 4 members or it could have 10,000 members - they are as valid as each other as long as the people have a desire to follow Christ and to demonstrate His love for people.

With a bit of effort we can all find a church that suits us, one that doesn't meet on a Sunday to allow your family to take part in sports, one that has spoken word rather than songs, one that shares creatively, one that is in a coffee shop. There are so many variants of church nowadays and yes at times church can be really hard and we might dislike or even hate the church we are attending but this does not mean it is OK for a committed Christian to just let it go. Churches are full of people and people by their very nature are imperfect and often broken, it is no wonder that none of us can find a perfect church.

I've always thought the only way to positively attempt to change a church that has problems is to be there and be part of it. To actively show love and understanding and demonstrate God's grace. Of course sometimes despite your best efforts things don't change and you might need to move elsewhere and find the support and fellowship that all Christians need to grow in their faith, and we must all be growing, not sitting stagnant.

The bible really is quite clear that we must meet with other believers and that when we do we have great power in the name of Jesus.
"For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:20 (NIV)
Whilst I enjoy reading my bible, listening to podcasts and casually chatting to fellow believers online. Nothing can take the place of meeting weekly at Church to sing out God's name and to show Him that He is number one in my life.
  • Church is where someone creeps up to me in the sermon and whispers a positive word they have heard from God that is intended for me. 
  • It is where someone lays hands on me and prays when I need help or healing. 
  • It is where my children learn more amongst their peers and have fun. 
  • It is where I find like-minded people to make friends with. 
  • It is where I am challenged to live a better and dramatically different life. 
  • It is where I can serve and offer my help to other people. 
  • It is where I am accountable. 
  • It is where I learn to love difference and to be more tolerant. 
  • It is where I encourage others and practise forgiveness.
Church is commonly referred to as the body of Christ in the New Testament of the Bible and each of us that are 'saved' (that is Christians who have repented of their sin, asked for forgiveness and made a commitment to live their life according to Jesus, as the one true savour) make up that body with Jesus as our head.

So again if we are part of a body, all with differing skills and giftings it seems appropriate that we come together to gain the synergies of togetherness. Again the bible backs this up -
"Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ." 1 Corinthians 12 (NIV)
"Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 1 Corinthians 12:15-21
I probably could go on and on but I suspect Katie only wanted a brief answer and in fact I suspect Katie wanted me to say "no, it is fine. You can call yourself a Christian and not go to church or meet with other Christians ever" but that is not my understanding or belief. Hers or yours might be different and that is OK as it is not for me to judge you. Your relationship is between you and God, no-one else. Only He and you know the truth. I just pray you can find a church that suits you, don't give up.

I'd love to encourage you to comment. You may not agree with me and that is alright, lets talk....

If you like what you have read and want to stay up-to-date then subscribe by email for free and receive blog posts directly to your in-box - just click the link Subscribe to Mummy From The Heart... by Email or perhaps you like to keep all your blog reading in one place, if that is the case you can follow me on BlogLovin too!Follow on Bloglovin
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...