Do I really have to go to church?

By Deniliquin Pastoral Times

If it is correct that being a Christian is more about a relationship, than being religious, then doing faith independently sounds like the natural extension of that principle.

That is, if I’m praying, reading the Bible, loving others, listening to sermon podcasts and maybe even talking about Jesus with my non-Christian friends, why do I need to supplement that with a religious ritual every Sunday?

Aren’t I basically doing all the important parts of church on my own?

Many may well agree with that. And thus argue, ‘‘I don’t need to go to church to be a Christian’’.

True. Going to church (even faithfully every week) does not make you a Christian. Only faith in Jesus makes you a Christian.

But, firstly, church is not a building. It is a community of believers. In that sense, we don’t go to church, we do church. We do community as we meet up with other Christians.

Secondly, being a Christian is never meant to be a solitary existence. God, in his wisdom, established a community of believers for good reason.

We need each other to grow and stay on track as Christians. Community (doing church) is therefore essential to Christianity.

Thus, living as a Christian is about more than doing individual acts of praying, reading the Bible or listening to an on-line sermon. It’s about doing them together, in community.

It’s true that our faith is fundamentally based on a relationship, but it isn’t just a me-and-Jesus thing. We need other people. And just as important, they need us. Hebrews 10:24-25: “... 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 we can’t spur on and encourage one another, on our own.

~ Contributed by Pastor Chris Taylor of Deniliquin Baptist Church, on behalf of the Combined Churches of Deniliquin.