One of the common conversations I find myself having when inviting someone to church is whether or not going to church is necessary in the Christian faith. Some have been wounded by a church in the past and have lost trust, some feel it is a waste of time, and others have turned away because of the hypocrisy. Unfortunately, I can relate to each of those categories. But are these reasons good enough to throw out the church altogether?
There are a few things I bring up when I have this conversation. I usually bring up how several of the books in the New Testament were written to churches, I make a scriptural case that we as Christians are to function together as the “body of Christ”(1 Corinthians 12:27, Ephesians 5:23 and Colossians 1:24) which is the church, and I talk about how we are told not to give up meeting together(Hebrews 10:25). But, in addition to these, let me also provide you with a couple other practical reasons:
- Community – We live in an age where technology has made it convenient to do most tasks from the comfort of your home and social isolation has proved to be a problem(Genesis 2:18, Proverbs 18:1). Mark Zuckerberg came out in June of 2017 saying that Facebook was broadening its companies mission to enable people to connect with meaningful communities. They recognized that even with all of the social media that is used to connect with friends and family they are still unable to currently satisfy the need for community. In the church world you can live stream services from your computer or mobile device, give to a ministry online, and even submit prayer requests on a church website or over the phone. But, these will never be as beneficial as having each member of the body of Christ, with all of its diversity, growing as they learn to function together with a common purpose.
- Accountability – Come on… Not accountability! I know, I know, NOT a popular subject. Many people prefer the loose “Christian” life where they can slip in and out of church unnoticed when they choose to attend. But, accountability from someone who genuinely cares for you lifts you higher(Proverbs 27:17, 1 Thessalonians 5:11, James 5:16, Eccl. 4:9-10). Some of the most successful people in the world recognize this reality and have hired life and business coaches to hold them accountable for their personal and professional goals. In a church, there should be an environment which allows you to connect with a Pastor and other like-minded believers so you can “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed”(James 5:15). This connection will also allow them to follow up with you and provide you with the proper support and encouragement you need. Behavior that is observed is behavior that changes!
This changes the question from, “Is church really necessary?” to “Which church is God calling me to?”