One of the most essential activities we must do is going to church. It must not be neglected because it is the cornerstone of the faith. So, is it a sin to not go to church?
The question is quite challenging to answer. Are we saying that if one doesn’t sit in a pew for 50 Sundays out of the year, their confession of faith is void?
If so, what does this mean for those who work nights and weekends or who have more than one job to support their families? Is someone’s salvation revoked if they miss Sunday morning church?
What does the term “church” actually mean? Does the word church refer to a group of individuals or a genuine building? Do pastors, altar guilds, liturgy, and singing have to be present in a church?
Is a church a building or a mindset? If I attend church but is just being there enough or do I also need to engage in some way? Do I still need to attend if the church has damaged me?
The question is tricky, but the thinking is real. Many people sincerely want to know how their relationship with Jesus is affected by their church attendance. So how do we approach this difficult issue? Does the Bible suggest that attending church is a must for a life of faith?
Before we go further into these questions, we will briefly discuss first what is the significance of going to church.
Importance of Going to Church
Going to Mass or church entails more than just listening to the preacher while you sit on a pew and sing hymns. During Mass, we praise God and thank Him for all the blessings we have received.
Additionally, we have the chance to hear the word of God during the liturgy at Mass. The Eucharist is what we receive most importantly at Mass. We reaffirm our relationship with God when we partake of the Eucharist, which is Jesus’ body and blood in the form of bread and wine.
In the past, the Sabbath day was solely set apart as a day of worship and devotion to the Lord, free from any other obligations. This commandment serves as a reminder of the value of intentionally spending time with the Lord, particularly on the rest days of the week. With this in mind, it is acceptable to claim that going to church is compliant with the Ten Commandments.
What Does the Bible Have to Say About Not Going to Church?
The Bible provides compelling evidence for why they should. James commands those who are sick to ask the elders of the church to pray over them, confess their sins to one another, and pray for one another (James 5:14-16).
The Book of Hebrews challenges Christians to think about how we can encourage one another to love and do good things, rather than forgoing gatherings as some have a practice of doing (Hebrews 10:24-25). Early Christians did not practice their religion in seclusion.
People who joined the Christian movement were thrust into a vibrant community of fellow believers right away. Early Christians were deeply committed to prayer, community, teaching, and sharing meals (Acts 2:42). Meeting regularly was how Christians naturally developed their faith.
The Bible’s entire narrative attests to the value of community in the spiritual life. God’s creative and redeeming personality is connected to the creation of a holy people from the first verses of Genesis. Scripture makes a collective faithfulness assumption. In actuality, scripture hardly ever addresses a specific individual.
The scriptures speak to a people, a community of believers who are bearing testimony to the strength and presence of God. Why would we think that we are somehow free from practicing our faith in the same way that the early Christians did if they lived out their faith in the context of a community?
Going to Chuch Does Not Guarantee Salvation
Does the idea that going to church might not be necessary for a person to have a vibrant and active life of faith astound you? When we turn going to church into a requirement for living a Christian life or for receiving salvation, we distort the Christian community into a flimsy system of earning and merit.
We erroneously believe that there is a task we must complete in order to earn our position in God’s kingdom. However, the Bible remains firm in its claim that we cannot accomplish anything to earn God’s love or favor.
Paul writes in Ephesians 2:8–9, “For it is not by works that you have been saved, but it is by grace, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is a gift from God—not by works so that no one may boast.” The Bible makes no expectations regarding church attendance as a condition of salvation.
In Mark 12:23-28, when the Pharisees pointed out to Jesus that his disciples do what is prohibited on the Sabbath, Jesus responds that the Sabbath was designed for man, not man for the Sabbath”.
Jesus asserts that having constant, interactive contact with him is more significant than simply adhering to the artificially constructed rules of religion.
No matter how well-intentioned, spiritual pursuits always run the risk of getting in the way of our relationship with Jesus when they become ends in themselves. We don’t gain spiritually much by attending church for the sake of attending. Even worse, it might work against it.
Nothing demands that our joy, safety, or health must be sacrificed in order to attend church. God urges us to keep away from bad neighborhoods.
God desires for us to be safe, sound, and whole. Any church that upholds hatred and condemnation does not represent the body of which Christ is the head in any way (Ephesians 1:22). Jesus will never ask us to remain with a group of people who do not kindly and kindly invite us into their presence.
However, this does not change the fact that being a part of a genuine religious community is good for our spiritual lives. Not because it is the church, but because we are engaged in a network of support, encouragement, discipline, and ministry.