Do You Have to go to Church to Have a Relationship with God?

Ever asked yourself “Do I have to go to church to have a relationship with God?”

Is church attendance necessary to be a Christian? Have you ever thought about that or wondered about that? In the last three-ish years I have heard this question more times than I can count. People wonder if it’s necessary to physically attend church to be a good Christian. 

Especially during Covid and after the boom of technology giving so many the ability to basically watch a service anywhere in the world. A lot of people are wondering if they actually need to attend in-person church. 

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Recently, someone in our community asked an amazing question and I know that she’s not the only one struggling with this question and looking for some guidance. She asked, if it was necessary to go to church or if she could grow her faith on her own. 

This is an awesome question to ask, especially coming out of the last few years when many of us have been doing church from home. We’ve got all of this technology that now allows you to be able to virtually attend bible studies and worship services at any time and anywhere. 

I might sound a little confusing for a moment, but I promise you I’m not talking out of both sides of my mouth. Really quick, is church attendance or church membership a requirement as a Christian? Meaning do you need to do these things to be saved and go to heaven? No. 

The bible is clear, the only thing you need to do to be saved is to that you need a savior because you cannot pay the price for your sins. That Jesus is that savior and who died on the cross and rose three days later.  Your sins are forgiven. That’s all you have to do.

That said, does that mean that the bible is saying you don’t have to go to church? Nope. Actually, it says the opposite. It’s not a requirement as far as salvation goes, but scripture is clear that we are to be in community with one another. We are to be in fellowship with other believers. 

If you don’t believe me, take a look for yourself. We’re going to talk about a couple of passages today, but I encourage you to get out your bible and dig in for yourself because the answer to this question is right there. 

What did Jesus Do?

First, I want to look at Jesus as your example because he is who you want to be more like right. He was perfect, sinless. When you see Jesus do something, then you can usually take it that that’s something that you should be ascribe to as well. 

Jesus was Jewish and went to temple as a child. You have that famous story of him getting lost and left behind and his parents are looking for him. You see him go to the temple as an adult when he is in his ministry and his years here on earth. 

He was in the temple taking part in that aspect of community and fellowship. You also see Jesus gathering people to him. The Sermon on the Mount is probably the most popular one in scripture, but you see him getting lots of people together or being followed by crowds. 

They’re gathering together to hear the teaching and the preaching of Jesus. You are seeing Jesus participate in this by attending temple, speaking to multitudes, and  crowds of people. Why would it be any different for you  current-day technology or no technology? 

Yes, scripture is pretty clear that you do need to make sure that you are making a priority to fellowship and gather with other believers. 

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Why Community is Important

I just want to talk about why that is. Going to church is not what saves you. Just like reading your bible is not what saves you. You cannot work or to-do list your way into salvation and God’s grace and favor. It’s freely given to all who believe, but fellowship necessary because it’s how we grow. 

It’s how you get stronger. It’s how you can live out your calling, your purpose, and your gifts. You are not meant to live in isolation from the world. You are not meant to be in isolation from your brothers and sisters in Christ either. 

In Ephesians 4, Paul talks about unity within the body of Christ. The fact that he refers to Christians as a body hints and speaks to the fact that we are all connected, we are all necessary, and we all work together. You can’t have a fully functioning body if you don’t have an arm, leg, or toe. 

We are each given unique and specific gifts, talents, and strengths that are needed in the body of Christ as a whole. I might have the gift of administration and my sister in Christ who sits next to me on Sunday might have the gift of hospitality. 

She can cook, she can host people, and she can make people feel welcome, but she’s not great at organizing and creating a plan. I do not have the gift of hospitality. I might organize, create a plan, and get everybody in order for this event. You just take care of what you excel at, what you shine at. 

The One Anothers in Scripture

There’s also all of the one anothers in the Bible: pray for one another, bear one another’s burdens, etc. Hebrews tells us to spur each other on to good works and not to forsake gathering together. The bible is clear, we need each other. 

It’s really hard to pray for one another, to bear each other’s burdens, to be there for one another, and hold each other accountable if we are not actively engaged in community and fellowship with one another. There’s no way to know what somebody needs if you’re not in regular contact with them. 

The same thing goes for you. If you have a need. There’s no way for your church to meet that need if they don’t know about it. This is why gathering together is so important. 

In Acts, when the church is being built you see new Christians gathering together in huge groups to hear the apostles’ teaching. Learning what they learned from walking with Jesus, what it means to him, and what it looks like to be a Christian. 

Are they in a church building like we are right now? No, because that’s not how they did things back then, but they still gathered together. Not only did they gather in big groups but they also gathered in small groups. 

In Acts 2:42 , they are breaking bread together, doing life together, and sharing all that they had so that nobody lacked anything. So this community idea, this idea of fellowshipping and doing life together, it’s all over scripture. 

Yes, we may have the technology that allows us to have lots of options, but it’s not a substitute for in-person services. I’m grateful that, when there’s sickness or we can’t get to church for some reason, there’s a live stream that we can watch.

We can still sing the same songs they’re singing on Sunday. I can still hear the message that my pastor is preaching and I can stay up to date and all those things. That’s so great. But sitting on my couch is not the same as being physically with my brothers and sisters, worshiping together, praying together, praying for one another, and seeing how things are going with each other in person. 

Do I Need to Go to Church: Final Thoughts

I want to wrap up our time today with three examples in scripture of the importance of being with a body of believers. Before I do that, I understand and know from experience that church hurt is real. That spiritual abuse and trauma is real. 

I’ve lived most of my life in churches that have been characterized by spiritual abuse and church hurt. But I still understand the importance of fellowshipping and gathering together. I know that there are safe churches, safe people, safe pastors, safe brothers and sisters in the Christ out there if you just don’t give up. 

I know it can be hard. I know it can be difficult. I know it can be frustrating to no end to try to find that place, but this is something that God desires for you. He’ll be faithful to lead and guide you to the place that he has for you where you can be safe, where you can be encouraged, you can be loved on, and you can find healing for those deep wounds.  

So I am still going to encourage you to do your best to find a group of people, a group of Christ followers that you can be a part of and be in community with because it’s still necessary.  Let’s look at three examples in scripture where you can see the necessity and the benefit and the blessing of community.

Example #1: Moses

Number one is in Exodus 17 with Moses. The children of Israel are going to war. God tells Moses, as long as his arms are up, Israel will be victorious. And that’s what happens. Moses holds his arms up and the Israelites are victorious. 

But Moses is human and he gets tired and has to put his arms down. Then the enemy starts to win. Aaron and Hur find him a rock to sit on so that he can rest and they eventually each take an arm and help Moses hold his arms up so that the children of Israel can be victorious.

A great example of community coming together, bearing each other’s burdens, and working together for the glory of God and for his kingdom. 

Example #2: Esther

Number two is the story of Queen Esther. Haaman plots to get rid of all the Jews. Mordecai goes to Esther and tells her that she’s in a position to do something about this. She agrees, but does she run off on her own?  Nope. 

She gets all her ladies around her and says they’re going to fast and pray because God is calling her to this big thing and she knows she needs strength, guidance, and wisdom for this to happen. They all fast and pray together. And God does great wonderful things. Power of community, power of fellowship. 

Example #3: Faithful Friends

My third example is in the New Testament. It is the story of the friends who have so much faith that they tear the roof off of the house where Jesus is and lower their friend and front when they can’t find another way to get in. 

That friend would not have received their healing if thei other friends had not been there doing life with them, seeing thestruggle, and hearing about this man named Jesus who was healing and doing great things and working together to get their friend there. How crazy is that? 

We see the power of community, of fellowship, and the power of not doing life alone. Even Jesus is that example. He went to temple. He had his 12 dudes that were his inner circle. He spoke and taught and preached to crowds and multitudes and thousands and thousands of people. 

It’s not the path to salvation but it is so nurturing and good for your soul. It’s how you grow, learn about yourself, and learn more about who God is. It’s how you’re able to serve because youre not saved for yourself. Your salvation is not meant to be selfish. 

You become a disciple so that you can then go out and make more disciples. You have to be involved in your community with other believers, with the same mindset, the same mission, and the same focus to see that happen effectively.

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A quick answer to the question: “Do I have to Go to Church?”

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