Why You Shouldn't Go To Church

The idea that we go to church is a common one and we use this phrase without giving it much thought. “Are you going to church this Sunday?” “What church do you go to?” When we use language like this, we reinforce the idea that church is a building or a place we go to worship. It also tends to shrink church down to just the corporate worship service. Sometimes we might use the expression “we are doing church together” which makes the church sound more like an activity, like “we’re doing crafts together”.

But the New Testament clearly differentiates the church from the physical meeting place.
“Greet also the church in their house.” – Romans 16:5

“The churches of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Prisca, together with the church in their house, send you hearty greetings in the Lord.” – 1 Corinthians 16:19
“Give my greetings to the brothers in Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house.” – Colossians 4:15

These homes were the place where the church met and nowhere in Scripture does it use the word church as an activity. The church itself should be understood as the gathered assembly of believers who have been called from the world and redeemed through faith in Christ. The church universal includes all believers, from all time, and all places. These are the clear implications of Ephesians 5:25 where it says, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” But as is seen in the previously referenced verses, the universal church was also comprised of local churches in specific geographical locations and particular homes.

But is any gathering that consists of two or more Christians considered a local church? Does having coffee with a fellow believer at the local café constitute a New Testament church? Are campus ministries equivalent to a New Testament church? Does meeting in a home fellowship group that listens to sermons online, worships together, prays, and seeks to hold each other accountable to following Christ constitute a New Testament church? Certainly, this latter example seems to include many of the activities that churches are called to do. But not only does a New Testament church consist of gathered believers, there is also an organizational structure in place with qualified leadership charged with shepherding the flock, namely elders/pastors (Acts 14:23; 1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9; Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 5:1-4). These leaders are accountable to the Lord to maintain and teach sound doctrine (Titus 1:9), set an example for godliness (1 Timothy 4:12), equip believers for ministry (Ephesians 4:11-14), and lead their local church to fulfill the great commission (Matthew 28:18-20). Members of these local churches are called to honor their leaders (1 Timothy 5:17) and willingly submit to their leadership (Hebrews 13:17). Groups that meet together without the covering of qualified elders/pastors are not a New Testament church, even though there could be good spiritual fruit borne from the gathering.

The church is also referred to as the Body of Christ, with Christ being the head and believers being members of His body (Ephesians 5:23, 1 Corinthians 12:12, 27). Therefore, to be a Christian while disconnected from a local church is foreign to the New Testament. You can’t live obediently to the Lord without being part of a local church, which means participating in its efforts to make disciples locally and globally and coming under the shepherding and authority of its leaders. This does not rule out participating in activities that are outside the ministry scope of a local church, but it does mean that every Christian should offer their spiritual gifts in some capacity that helps to build it up (1 Corinthians 14:26).

When the church gathered, they worshiped together, served each other, came under the same teaching, broke bread together, prayed together, and encouraged each other (Acts 2:42-44, Hebrews 10:24-25). So, let’s stop going to church and let’s be the church that impacts the world for the glory of Christ!

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