You don’t have to go to church to be a Christian. But Christians are bothered about church
In my email last week, I gave this quote: ‘You don’t have to go to church to be a Christian. So, I don’t need to bother with church.’ The first part is correct. Being in a Christian meeting does not earn you a place in God’s family. But the second part is incorrect. If you are a member of God’s family, you will be bothered about church.
In the Bible, ‘church’ means Jesus’ people gathering together. We do not gather together to find our way to God. We gather together because God has found us and gathered us around Jesus. The Bible says Jesus ‘loved the church and gave himself up for her’ (Ephesians 5:25).
The gathering of God’s people, the church, doesn’t have a mission or a task to do. But each Christian has the personal, individual mission of ‘building’ the church – praying for others, telling people about Jesus, inviting people to church, encouraging other believers. All these are things that ‘build’ the church – growing the gathering by increasing the numbers who come or by strengthening each others’ hold on Jesus.
Some of us can’t make it to church meetings because of illness or our boss prevents us or, in some cases, another service for God takes priority. It is harder for those people to ‘build’ the church – though they can pray, talk to others about Jesus, be in touch with other believers. For those of us who can make it to church meetings, let’s not just turn up and sit through the gatherings, but play our part in building the church – saying hello to others, joining in, listening to teaching and chatting with others, serving others.