Should Christians go to Church?
A few years ago I read an article that was alarming to me. A small, rural, Free Will Baptist church in Kentucky banned interracial marriages. This story had me interested, not only because I completely disagree with the decision, but also because I have been in an interracial relationship for over nineteen years and I have five biracial children.
What hurts me the most about this decision of this church is the black eye that it will leave on churches in America! This decision, no doubt, will portray the church in a negative manner and undoubtedly lead some to question the need for churches because of the ignorance of the few that abuse their power. There will be some that say, “See, this is why I don’t attend a church because church goers are such hypocrites” or others will say, “I don’t need the church anyway, I can be spiritual and have a relationship with the Lord apart from the church!”
I am not writing this to answer the question, “is interracial dating/marriage acceptable” because it is, I write to answer this question, “As a believer in Jesus, do I need to attend a church?” The short answer is yes…let me explain.
Many will follow Jesus because in Him is eternal life. Once they “receive” eternal life, the mentally check out. They feel secure and they continue to walk and live in the world the way they did before they “received” Jesus. Jesus was well aware of the tendencies of the human heart to try and live life alone. People throughout the Old Testament and New Testament constantly try and carry the burdens of life alone and sadly apart from God.
In Jesus’ goodness, He came to the earth to fulfill two main objectives. Obviously the first objective was the most important; to die on a cross for the payment of our sins and to bring right standing before a holy and just God. But secondly, and probably surprisingly to some, He died to establish His church (Matthew 16:18).
God never intended for us to do life alone. We can go back to the beginning of time and see that man was created for relationships with other people (Genesis 2:18). So Jesus, knowing our need for other people and our propensity to try and do life alone, came to establish for us a place where we could encourage each other and walk together in this crazy world that we live in.
This is the very example that we see in the Bible. The early church in the Book of Acts, lived together in harmony (Acts 2:42-47). They studied scripture together, they met the needs of others, they prayed together, they ate together, they told others about Jesus together, and they went to church together. They were functioning as a body of believers exactly how Jesus wanted them to function as a church.
The early church was simply committed to each other and committed to meeting regularly to build each other up. If somebody is suffering in the church, Jesus expects us to come along side of the one suffering and help them in their time of need (1 Corinthians 12:26). The writer of Hebrews warns us that we must not stop going to church as some have because, again, when we neglect going to church, we are living outside of the will of Jesus for our life (Hebrews 10:24-25) because ultimately He knows what is best for us.
Additionally, Jesus gave us the church so that we could be built up spiritually (Ephesians 4:11-16). He has called some to be leaders in the church for the sole purpose of spiritually feeding those that attend (John 21:15-17).
So to the one that has been turned off by churches let me say this. Is the church perfect? Absolutely not! Should you base your decision to go to church off of the ignorance of a few? Absolutely not! The church and its leaders are not perfect. Only Jesus is perfect. So have some mercy in your heart for the failure of some, but also trust in the fact that Jesus knows better than you.
If you neglect the church, you are neglecting the intelligence of Jesus. Jesus has your best interest in mind, and this is why He established His church. Jesus established the church to give you spiritual guidance, comfort, peace, help, unity, purpose, value, and worth. Remember what Hebrews 10:25 says; do not stop going to church (my paraphrase) and 1 John 4:20-21 reminds us if we claim to love Jesus, we must also love the church and the people in it. The church is Jesus’ and not the ignorant few that bring a black eye to it.