I have heard a variety of stories, testimonies, reasons and excuses why people do not go to church, fell out of church, or even walked away from their faith. Some are, “you do not need to go to church to be saved and be a Christian“, “I did not like that Pastor“, “The church is full of hypocrites“, “I was offended by the church”, or, “the church turned me away“, “The pastor or leader within the church stole money or had an affair“. “I was not being fed“, “I attend online“, “Churches just want my money” The list goes on & on…
So allow me for a few moments to share my perspective, what I have learned, and what the Spirit is telling me…
First of all the “church” is the people, not a building. So, yes you may gather anywhere and be the church. Whether in a building, in someone’s house, on the streets, or on a park bench. The intent of the church is to assemble together, learn, serve, grow, get equipped and then go out. However, the bible is clear that we are not to forsake ourselves the assembling together. (Hebrews 10:25) To gather, bring to the store house (Malachi 3:10), so that the Mission and Gospel may be spread to make Disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son & Holy Spirit. (Matthew 28:19)
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” — Hebrews 10:24–25
“Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.” — Malachi 3:10
“And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled.” — Luke 14:23
Secondly, you should not go to church to worship a movement, idolize a man, or even for a “social club”. People that are truly saved know they are in need of a Savior, they know they are flawed, and their drive should be to worship and praise God, to walk out repentance, to serve others, to learn, grow, to get equipped, and yes then to go out. And yes, Christians do get tempted, and they will make mistakes. There is wickedness outside and inside the church. We as believers should focus on God, and His Son in Jesus Christ. Never a person, a building, or a movement. The church should not be a museum for saints, adornments of statues or artifacts. It’s a hospital for sinners, to learn, grow, worship, praise, walk out repentance, and live more like Jesus every day. I also do not believe it is about religion. I believe it is about a relationship. If you desire a relationship with someone what do you do? What did God do in love for us? What are we willing and want to do for our love for God?
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” — Romans 3:23
“as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one;..” — Romans 3:10
Thirdly. If you are an adult, you should be mature enough to realize what you put into something, is what you will get out of it. Do not wait to be fed, do not wait to be called upon to help out, and serve. You have life’s manual within your finger tips, or on most electronic devices, the bible! Do not rely entirely on a human being to direct you, nor ask you to help, or expect to be continuously fed by a single leader or groups of leaders. You are an adult. Read the Word, and read it daily. Pray, and pray daily. Take charge of yourself, carry your cross, and get in the game. Strive to truly be a follower, not a bench seat warmer, not even just a fan, strive to be a sold out follower of Jesus Christ. The church is not just one man, or deacon or elder board. Stop putting so much on them, or unrealistic expectations. Read, pray, study, serve and love others. Trust me, you will get fed well that way. Or at least on the right path.
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, — Philippians 1:27
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? — Matthew 16:24–25
“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body — Jews or Greeks, slaves or free — and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? “— 1 Corinthians 12:12–19
Fourthly. I am a tech guy. I like it and I sell it. I also watch a variety of church services online. However we were designed by our Creator for relationships. A relationship with Him, and relationships with others. You will have a tough time growing, expanding your horizons and challenging yourself for the Cause of Christ if you do not get into fellowship with others. To assemble together with others, to learn from others that are more knowledgeable and wiser than you. Trust me, you do not know it all. You never will know it all, but you can always learn, and learn more. You need to assemble, and again the bible says to not forsake it. People do need people, and it is physically, mentally, and spiritually healthy.
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” — 1 Thessalonians 5:11
“Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.”- Proverbs 13:20
“Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” — 1 Corinthians 7:5
Fifthly. Yep, humanity will fail you. People will offend you. And yes, Christians may very well offend you. Man made doctrine can get a bit ridiculous in my opinion. If you were truly offended to your core by someone in church, or a church leader. Worse yet, you were turned away. Ask yourself, “what would Jesus do?” My thought is to follow Matt. 18:15-17. Go to that individual and try to work it out. Talk through it. Seek to forgive one another and move on. If that doesn’t work, bring another believer, and/or member of the church. If that doesn’t work, then try to bring in another leader with another believer/member. If that doesn’t work, then it may be time to dust yourself off, and move on.
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” — Matthew 18:15–17
“And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town” — Matthew 10:14
Lastly. Yes, tithing is biblical. It is how we are to invest in the Kingdom, in growing others, to help missionaries, to not just Spiritually feed others, but to also help physically feed (cloth & shelter) others. Did you know it is said that if all the members of churches would tithe just 5% the world could nearly eliminate world hunger? The thing is God doesn’t need or require our money. It is an act of obedience, a human effort and sometimes sacrifice to demonstrate the love of others, the love of God in giving of our first fruits. However, I believe He is also asking for giving of 3 elements of our life, simply out of the act of obedience and for our own growth. Those being to demonstrate giving of our Time, Talents, and Treasures. So are we also giving a tenth of those two other items? If we truly love God with all of our our hearts, minds & souls, and we owe Him everything, is giving back 10% of not just our Treasure, but that of our Time, and talent, that difficult? Just something to ponder.
It is not a question of if “you have to go to church”, the thing is you should want to go to church. If you love the Lord God with all your heart, mind and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself; your heart and soul should be compelled, encouraged, and inspired to go to church to learn, repent, praise, assemble, worship, serve, get equipped to then go out to fulfill the Great Commission.
“Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” — Matthew 28:16–20
In closing, if we truly desire to know more about God, if we truly desire a relationship with God, if we truly love Him, we would naturally want to invest as much time as possible learning about it Him, getting to know Him, doing as He asks or commands, gathering together to inspire, encourage, and help others to do the same all the while serving and loving one another as Christ demonstrate His love while He was on earth. If someone on earth loves us so much that he or she is willing to die for us, or did take a bullet for us, how much more should we feel and want to do for God if He was willing to do and did the same?
See ya at church.
Blessings and Shalom.