If you’re doubtful about going to church, consulting the Bible can help put you on the right track. So, let’s look at several Bible verses that will do just that.
While we can’t find Bible verses telling us exactly what to do, the teachings left by the Lord Jesus Christ and his apostles in the early church have a lot to impart to us.
Before we get to those verses though, let’s first take a closer look at the question we’re asking. In doing so, we can answer it more thoroughly and we’ll better understand what the Bible is trying to tell us about (not) going to church.
What does the Bible say about not going to church?
Zooming in on our question can raise more questions. Like what do we mean by the word “church”? Is it the physical building we go to or a way of life? Is the small group we meet for bible studies considered a church? Or do we need to be part of corporate worship?
As we go through the four statements and the supporting Bible verses, you’ll notice how there isn’t a single definition of what the church is. Having a broader perspective of the word “church” is essential for us to understand the intriguing statements the Bible tells us about going to church.
4 Intriguing Statements About Going to Church
What makes these statements intriguing is not the meaning they impart individually but the statements when taken as a whole. Try to analyze the statements yourself and find the intriguing quality we’re talking about.
Don’t worry, we won’t be keeping you in the dark. In the last part of our discussion, we’ll be talking about this intriguing quality and what it means for our exploration of our question.
1. You can’t find God in a church made by man.
In this statement, the church being referred to is the physical building we enter. We go to church literally when we enter a chapel or a building used for worship services.
Considering this definition of the church, what does the bible say?
Acts 17:24 (ESV) The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man;
We attend church to praise and worship God. But if he doesn’t live in temples (churches) made by man, then do we still need to go to church? Let’s take a look at another Bible verse.
Matthew 18:20 (ESV) For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
Clearly, as long as you are gathered with one or two other believers, then the Lord Jesus Christ will be with you. Then there should be no need for corporate worship, right?
At first glance, these Bible verses seem to support that going to church is unnecessary. But we can’t take these verses at face value.
The point being made in Acts 17:24 is that God is unlike the idols or statues in idol temples in Athens. He is omnipresent and cannot be bolted down to a temple made by man.
In Matthew 18:20, Christ Jesus stated this as encouragement for the meeting of a few believers in support and not against public worship.
2. You don’t need to go to church to have a place in God’s kingdom.
Many Christians may find it shocking to the point of disbelief that church attendance is unnecessary to secure a place in God’s kingdom. Yet God’s word tells us as much:
Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV) For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.
Salvation through faith is a gift of God and not something we can achieve through superficial earning and merit (like attending church all 50 Sundays of the year). We literally cannot do anything to earn God’s favor and claim this gift for ourselves.
Mat 11:28 (NKJV) “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Seeking Jesus and forming a personal relationship with him is more important than the superficiality that can surround (albeit well-meaning) spiritual activities many deem necessary to the Christian life. If we go to church just for the sake of being marked “present,” then that does little for us to grow spiritually.
3. You shouldn’t give up meeting together.
You may have noticed that this statement doesn’t speak of the “church,” as the place where the meeting must be done. Instead, it focuses on the act of meeting itself. This brings us to another definition of “church.”
The church is Christ’s body where he is the head (Colossians 1:18, 24). Now we, as believers in Christ, make up the church or the body of Jesus Christ.
Romans 12:4-5 (ESV) For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
Every member belongs to the body of the Lord Jesus Christ. With that in mind, turning to various Bible verses in the New Testament will show us numerous teachings directed at the early Christians regarding the value of fellowship. Here are a couple of those verses:
Hebrews 10:25 (NIV) Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Acts 2:42 (GNB) They spent their time in learning from the apostles, taking part in the fellowship, and sharing in the fellowship meals and the prayers.
“Meeting together” and “taking part in the fellowship” both refer to nurturing a community among the members of the body of Christ Jesus.
In this definition of “church,” it is impossible, as a Christian, to not “go to church.” Not going to church will mean isolating yourself from other Christians. While it is possible to isolate yourself completely, your Christian life cannot be complete without other Christians, as you’ll see in the last statement.
4. You need the church to grow in faith.
An individual cannot be the church. We need other believers to form the church and for each of us to grow all together in faith. Tons of Bible verses support this statement and we’ll be looking at some of them.
Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV) “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
In the verse above, the Lord Jesus Christ teaches us that to love God and our neighbor makes up what is called the greatest commandment in the Law. By stating that “the second is like it,” we are made to understand that we cannot do the first without doing the second and vice versa.
1 John 4:20 (CEV) But if we say we love God and don’t love each other, we are liars. We cannot see God. So how can we love God, if we don’t love the people we can see?
To love God, we must love one another. This is essential to abide by the great commandment. If you isolate yourself, you will not have fellow Christians to whom you can express this love as proof of your love for God.
Below are some more Bible verses that illustrate the importance of community with your fellow Christians.
Act 2:46-47 (BSB) With one accord they continued to meet daily in the temple courts and to break bread from house to house, sharing their meals with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Colossians 3:16 (BLB) Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing each other in all wisdom, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with grace in your hearts to God.
Eph 4:11-13, 16 (NIV) It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ…From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
The early Christians in the early church treated one another like family. With the apostles teaching them, they gathered together and built each other up in love. In doing so, their assembly was enough to call others, so they too can receive salvation.
Can Christians not go to church?
The statements above are intriguing in how the first half seems to disagree with the other half at first glance. It’s like the Bible tells us that it’s both okay and not okay to go to church. But as we dug deeper, we saw why church matters for the Christian life.
As you saw above, the definition of “church” cannot be limited to the structure we enter or the Sunday morning services we attend. We are not just talking about church attendance for the sake of saying we attend church.
Simply put, the answer to the question above is no. The statements, supported by numerous Bible verses, tell us that the “church” is the community we form with our fellow Christians. We should go to church to enjoy the assembly of the saints. We should share our spiritual gifts with other believers.
This assembly will not be perfect, just like how families (like all the others) aren’t perfect. Remember that churches are made up of people like you and me. We fall short and make mistakes.
With that said, if it has come to a point where a church you thought was family has hurt you, then you are justified in leaving this church. If you are at a point in your life where you’re considering leaving your local church, this post from our blog can help: When Is It Time To Look For A New Church?
We hope that our discussion—based on what the Bible has to say—has helped you view “going to church” as a matter beyond church attendance. Remember that whenever we turn to the Bible for an answer to our question, we should always start with a prayer to invite the Holy Spirit in helping us understand the message that the Bible wishes to impart.
While you’re here, have a look at our previous post.