We desperately need the church for love, for maturity and preparedness, for spiritual care. It is arrogant, rebellious, self-reliant, God-indicting pride to conclude that the church is an optional extra to the Christian life. We need everything God designs for us. Everything. To reject what God designs for His glory and our good is spiritual suicide. To reject the church is to take your own spiritual life.
Objection: I can profit as much by staying at home and reading the Scripture or some good book; it is the word of God which they preach, and it is that which I read at home. The books that are written by learned men are better than the sermons that are preached by our ministers.
Answer: What foolish pretences are these against the plain command of God and our own necessary duty! When God hath appointed you your duty, will He allow you to forsake it upon your own reason, as if you were wiser than God, and knew what will profit you better than He?
Being disconnected from the local church, for whatever reason, is a dangerous way to live. Not only do these “ lone rangers” miss out on the blessings of functioning within the context of the body of Christ, but like lone sheep away from the safety of the flock and the watchful care of the shepherd, they are vulnerable to predators of every sort.
When you were born, your mother brought you to church.
When you were married, your wife brought you to church.
When you die, your friends will bring you to church.
Why not try coming to church on your own sometime?
Nonattendance, in the early years of our church, was considered one of the most sinister of sins, because it usually veiled all the other sins. When someone began to be in sin, you would expect them to stop attending.
The man who attempts Christianity without the church shoots himself in the foot, shoots his children in the leg, and shoots his grandchildren in the heart.
Though true Christianity uniquely involves a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, it is also a corporate experience…Christians cannot grow spiritually as they ought to in isolation from one another.
The visible church is where you will find Christ’s kingdom on earth, and to disregard the kingdom is to disregard its King.
The problem with conservative churches is not that they lack members. The problem is that many of those members are not converted. Millions of members of evangelical churches are absent from worship services each Sunday and are equally absent from Christian living during the rest of the week. Biblical illiteracy and unethical conduct by Christians seem to be on the rise. Many people who attend are indifferent to the truths of Christianity, and others are divisive, even mean-spirited.
On the most elementary level, you do not have to go to church to be a Christian. You do not have to go home to be married either. But in both cases if you do not, you will have a very poor relationship.
Another reason for the de-churching of many Christians is the historic individualism of evangelical Christianity and the grass-roots American impulse against authority. The natural inclination is to think that one needs only an individual relationship with Christ and needs no other authority. Such thinking produces Christian Lone Rangers who demonstrate their authenticity by riding not to church, but out to the badlands, reference Bible in hand, to do battle single-handedly with the outlaw world.
There are no churchless disciples.
Church attendance is infected with a malaise of conditional loyalty which has produced an army of ecclesiastical hitchhikers. The hitchhiker’s thumb says, “You buy the car, pay for repairs and upkeep and insurance, fill the car with gas – and I’ll ride with you. But if you have an accident, you are on your own! And I’ll probably sue.” So it is with the credo of so many of today’s church attenders: “You go to the meetings and serve on the boards and committees, you grapple with the issues and do the work of the church and pay the bills – and I’ll come along for the ride. But if things do not suit me, I’ll complain and probably bail out–my thumb is always out for a better ride.”
They who would grow in grace, must love the habitation of God’s house. It is those that are planted in the courts of the Lord who shall flourish, and not those that are occasionally there.
All biblical counseling that is faithful to the Scriptures will recognize the vital role played by the church in the life of a Christian counselee (see Rom. 12; 1 Cor. 12-14; Eph. 4:1-16; 1 Thes. 4:9-10; 5:12-15; Heb. 3:12-14). People entangled in severe sins tend to isolate themselves for a variety of reasons. They are in love with their sin, ashamed of their sin, too proud to let others know, too self-sufficient to let others in, lack a true desire to change, believe they can beat their problems on their own, or don’t want to inconvenience their friends with their long-term problems that defy simple solutions.
We don’t come to church, to be a church. We come to Christ, and then we are built up as a church. If we come to church just to be with one another, one another is all we’ll get. And it isn’t enough. Inevitably, our hearts will grow empty, and then angry. If we put community first, we will destroy community. But if we come to Christ first and submit ourselves to Him and draw life from Him, community gets traction.
To gather with God’s people in united adoration of the Father is as necessary to the Christian life as prayer.
If a member shows prolonged negligence in gathering with God’s people, how can he say he loves them? And if he doesn’t love them, how can he say he loves God (cf. 1 John 4:20-21)? (Mark Dever and Paul Alexander).
The fruits of the Holy Spirit are, it seems to me, largely fruits of sustained interaction with God. Just as a child picks up traits more or less simply by dwelling in the presence of her parent, so the Christian develops tenderheartedness, compassion, humility, forgiveness, joy, and hope through “the fellowship of the Holy Spirit” – that is, by dwelling in the presence of God the Father and Jesus Christ His Son. And this means, to a very large extent, living in a community of serious believers.
It must not content us to take our bodies to church if we leave our hearts at home.
It might be stretching it a bit, but when we intentionally choose not to attend church, we are in effect “church disciplining” ourselves – removing ourselves from the collective safety of the church and handing ourselves over to Satan’s domain (cf. 1 Cor. 5:5, 13).
There are those, particularly in our day, who are so disenchanted with the visible church that they steadfastly refuse to join any local church. Such a posture is misguided and involves overt disobedience to the commands of Christ. Though it is possible for a believer to be confused about this for a season, someone who persists in such a posture is, in all probability, not a believer. It is the duty of every Christian to join a visible church.
Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you an automobile.
Autonomous Christianity never works, because our spiritual life was designed by God to be a community project.
No Excuse Sunday: Cots will be placed in the foyer for those who say, “Sunday is my only day to sleep in.” We have steel helmets for those who say, “The roof would cave in if I ever came to church.” Blankets will be furnished for those who think the church is too cold, and fans for those who say it is too hot. We have hearing aids for those who say, “The preacher speaks too softly,” and cotton balls for those who say, “He preaches too loudly.” Score cards will be available for those who wish to list the hypocrites present. Some relatives will be in attendance for those who like to go visiting on Sundays. There will be TV dinners for those who can’t go to church and cook dinner also. One section will be devoted to trees and grass for those who like to worship God in nature. Finally, the sanctuary will be decorated with Christmas poinsettias and Easter lilies for those who have never seen the church without them.
It takes 90 gallons of water to baptize a Christian and only 9 drops of rain to keep him at home!
An empty tomb proves Christianity; an empty church denies it.