Must We Go To Church

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Must We Go to Church?

We might say that this question has already been asked and answered. Last time we asked a similar question. Do we need a church? But asking about our need is not the same as asking if there is a divine imperative. Must we go to church? Is it a command?

The short answer is “yes”. Participation in the church is the obligation of every believer. This is true both in the examples and commands of the New Testament. In Acts 2:46 we read, “And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts”. (Acts 2:46 ESV) Here we see the pattern of the early church. This is descriptive in nature not prescriptive, but we get a snapshot of how the early church practiced their faith.

Then, we have prescription in passages like Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Heb. 10:24 ESV) Do you see? The habit of meeting together in the church is commanded. The standard is habit not novelty.

 The words of James about a wandering brother seem to imply the same. Listen! “My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, 20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. “(Jas. 5:19 ESV)

 I think something similar is suggested in the familiar words of the Apostle Paul. “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” (Gal. 6:9 ESV) Growing weary of the good habit of church attendance is totally possible but is a collapse we cannot afford.  

 The church is called the bride of Christ. How can those who are redeemed by Christ, loved by Him and made his bride, hate and disconnect from the bride? It makes no sense. John puts it into a similar logic. “If anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. “(1 Jn. 4:20 ESV)

There are reasons that may temporarily prevent us from church attendance. We may even leave a church and be between churches. It may take time to find a new fellowship to join. But it is a wrong and dangerous course to think we can be disconnected from the body. A branch disconnected from a vine will not endure.