By nature, I am an introvert who can be extroverted. All too often I have used my nature to justify being alone – specifically, not going to church. As we learn to be still and abide in Christ we will see that there is a strength that comes from abiding in community with other believers. Today we will look into a tough question. What does the Bible say about going to church? We will also see look into a deeper question. What does the Bible say about church in general?
“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you… As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abies in the vine…” (John 15:1-11 NASB)
What Does the Bible Say About Going to Church?
John 15:4 says something controversial, which should be no surprise to us. Verse 4 tells us we can not bear fruit alone. Now just to be clear, I prefer to be alone. Alone is nice, quiet, and free from conflict. It makes me happy. So know that this is for me and I am inviting you alone for the journey as God steps all over my toes today.
The question we have today is complicated. What does the Bible say about going to church? It is complicated because 20th century Christians refer to the church as a place while Early Christians referred to the church as a people.
So we will have to build a common language before we can actually understand what the Bible says about it. Let’s begin by answering a different question: What does the Bible say about church?
What Is Church According To The Bible?
But before we answer that questions we must define the word. What is church according to the Bible?
In the New Testament, the word Church is used 77 times. The church is translated from the Greek word, ekklēsía which means:
- an assembly of Christians gathered for worship in a religious meeting
How Important is The Church in The Bible?
If the Biblical definition of church is the people of God, gathering to worship God we see something huge. God loves His people, so God loves the church. When the people of God gather together, abiding together, we are being the Church!
Thus, the church is very important.
Related Post: 12 Verses To Pray For Unity In The Church
What Does the Bible Say About Church?
The church is not the place Christians gather. Rather, the church is the Christians gathered together. There is a series of questions that come up when talking about going to church with the HopeJoyInChrist community. I LOVE that you all ask honest questions.
- What does the Bible say about church attendance?
- What does the Bible say about church buildings?
- Is there a Biblical denomination?
- What does the Bible say about church membership and attendance?
- What does the Bible say about church-hopping?
- Does the Bible say how to worship?
- What does the Bible say about church structure?
- What does the Bible say about church discipline?
- Who can go to church?
- What does the Bible say about going to church every Sunday?
- What does the Bible say about going to church every week?
- Does the Bible say not to go to church?
- What does the Bible say about not going to church?
- And what does the Bible say about going to church to go to heaven?
What Does the Bible Say About Church Buildings?
We clarified earlier that the church is not a building. In Acts 2 we see the believers meeting in outdoor areas and gathering from house to house to break bread. The concept of a church building didn’t come until much later when Christianity was better established and less persecuted.
Related Post: How Personal Revival Leads to Unity In The Church
What Does The Bible Say About Church Attendance?
The question is, what does the Bible say about church membership and attendance?
The early church was under great persecution. They were often scattered from each other (Acts 8). Regular church attendance or membership would not have meant the same to them as it does to us. Christians would have seen themselves as members of One Church Body. Members through salvation.
What Does the Bible Say About Church-Hopping?
Attendance and church-hopping would not have meant what it does to us today. They gathered in homes and in the arena and more than likely when they were scattered, they began a new church home meeting in the new city (Acts 8:4).
Related Post: How To Avoid The Death of Support In The Church
What Does the Bible Say About Going to Church Every Sunday
Historically we know that Jewish people were accustomed to attending temple meetings and hearing the Torah read aloud. Likewise, followers of Jesus studied the Old Testament. They also met together to read the letters written by the Apostles.
Historians tell us it was their custom to meet on the first day of the week, but Scripture also tells us they often met daily. What we know for sure was that they met often, regularly.
I feel these questions are asked as a way out of some obligation that misses the point. Meeting together as the church is about abiding in the Vine, and staying connected to God and other believers. It is not a chore.
Should we go to church each Sunday? What does the Bible say about going to church every week? The Bible says we should meet together regularly. The frequency is up to you and God.
What Does the Bible Say About Going to Church to go to Heaven?
I want so much to put this question with the last two, but I have to address it separately. There is one requirement for salvation leading to the entrance to heaven. Faith in Jesus Christ.
Moses never went to church. Abraham never went to church. The thief on the cross never went to church. Church attendance is not a requirement for salvation.
Is There a Biblical Denomination?
What a tricky question! Jesus was a Jew. The Catholic church claims its foundation from the Apostle Peter. The Protestant denominations bring something else unique to the mix. I can’t give you a great answer.
I personally hate denominations. The Bible tells us to strive for unity. Denominations are about separation and disunity. My advice to anyone who asks is this. Find a church that teaches the whole counsel of the Bible and doesn’t skip the hard parts. Any church that loves God and follows His teachings loves others and takes a hard line against sin is great in my book.
Related Post: 40 Encouraging Bible Verses About ChoicesWhat does the Bible say about going to church every week? The Bible says we should meet together regularly. The frequency is up to you and God. Click To Tweet
Does The Bible Say How To Worship?
While I understand most people ask this question referring to the style of music played at a church I have to answer it differently. The Bible says to worship in spirit and in truth(John 4:23-24). That may be acapella or with an organ. Perhaps it is with hymns or maybe it’s contemporary. There could be dancing or bowing or standing with raised hands or reserved tears. If it’s in spirit and truth I see examples of it in Scripture.
Seriously people, David danced before God naked (2 Samuel 6:14-23) and was still called a man after God’s own heart. I think we make much about an issue that God is not so concerned about.
Who Can Go To Church
The simple answer is that anyone can go to church. Anyone. Jesus called sinners, fishermen, zealots, tax collectors, former demon-possessed women, good church people, and every other kind of person to follow Him.
We get hung up on what people look like or how obvious their sin might be, when God simply called people as they were. That is the beauty of our God, He calls us as we are and changes us AFTER the calling to be more like Him.
And He died for us ALL to come to Him.
Related Post: 40 Bible Verses To Overcome Anxiety
Church Structure and Discipline
Okay, so there is actually a bit more about these two questions than we can cover in this article:
- What does the Bible say about church structure?
- What does the Bible say about church discipline?
So I will say that they are great questions, but they don’t fit this verse so we will come back to them another time. For now, know that the Bible does talk about structure and guidelines for who can lead where. It also talks about discipline when Christians live in open sin… not for the lost, but specifically for Christians.
The Benefits of Abiding in Christ:
The point of all of this, the real answer to the two questions is very simple. When we give our life to Jesus, we begin to abide in Christ. Abiding in Christ should lead to spending time with Him and with other Christians.
What does the Bible say about going to church? We will want to go to church when we are growing in faith!
As I reflect on John 15 I see some odd promises or benefits that Jesus gives about abiding in Him.
- God will pull unfruitful branches.
- He will prune fruitful branches to encourage more growth.
- Abiding (living every day with Him) leads to bearing fruit.
- Living alone or apart from God leads to no fruit.
The branch that lives alone, apart from the vine (God) will not bear fruit. I don’t know about you, but I want to be a fruitful Christian! So how do we abide in the Vine?
Understand The Garden
Gardening is a hobby of mine. I love the entire process. You plant many seeds at the start, but not all the seeds grow. Seeds that grow best are spaced well. They each have their own space but they are still close together.
When you have an isolated plant it often grows slowly and doesn’t bloom as big or grow as much produce. Why? The roots or the plan do a lot for the community of plants. They share nutrients and support each other, literally.
Just like the roots of the seedlings support each other and encourage growth, the body of Christ gives support to help each member grow.
That must be what Jesus meant by the branch that is not in the vine not bearing much fruit.
Related Post: How To Create A Prayer Garden
What Does The Bible Say About Chruch Hurt?
Why would a Christian choose to be alone? This is the real issue, there are times we choose to be alone, separated from the vine.
I get it, there are very real reasons you might avoid Church or avoid being with other Christians. So let’s have that conversation… the same conversation I have literally had with God countless times!
Hypocrites in Church
“But Tiffany, the Church is just full of hypocrites.”
It sure is. I have not met a person alive who doesn’t put on a mask and pretend about parts of their lives. That is no different in church though I wish it were.
The church is NOT a place filled with perfect people. Instead, you will find hurting people, healed people who have a past, struggling people trying to find hope, legalistic people trying to learn grace and so much more.
What Does the Bible Say About Not Going to Church?
Church is filled with people. People tend to be hypocrites. Church people are just people who know they need God’s help to live life His way.
But I am not the one telling you to come to be with us hypocrites.
“and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling 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 NASB
The struggle to gather with other believers has been around since the beginning or it wouldn’t be addressed in the Bible. We just have to work through the thing!
Church Hurt Leaves Scars
“But Tiffany, I have been hurt by the Chruch and don’t want to go back.”
Oh, sweet friend, I am so sorry you have been hurt in Church. The church is filled with sinful people and hurts happen when we abide together.
You are not alone in this. Even the Apostles, as they were building the early church were hurt. There are accounts of them separating from each other for a time and then coming back together (Acts 15:36-39). Three are letters written to tell them how to deal with church discipline when serious offenses happened (Matthew 18:15–20).
Hurting people (like we are in the church) will hurt people at times. It has happened to me… too many times to share about.
But God tells us repeatedly to forgive each other and live in love. If you are struggling to forgive a hurt by the church I encourage you to read through this e-book where I share the pathway God showed me to freedom through forgiveness.
No Need For Church, I’m Fine Alone
“But Tiffany, I have time with God. Do I really need Church?”
I hear you. If it were up to me, I’d just spend time alone with God. But the truth is, God has given you gifts and talents that are needed to help others. Do you believe that?
“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:16 NASB)
If you are just growing alone with God, who will teach and admonish others?
“For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” (Matthew 18:20 NASB)
Why Abide in Christ by Gathering with other believers?
If you are just growing alone with God, how will you ever experience the power of the Holy Spirit coming into a prayer meeting? How will you be encouraged in your faith while watching the elderly new widow share honestly while she wrestles with her faith but comes through victorious? Or how will you have the rough edges rubbed off of you by others who see your blindspots and love you too much to ignore them?
We need other believers! We need to be in the church together, for each other!
Isolation Stunts Growth
When a plant or tree is growing there is rarely a healthy branch that is isolated. Yes, the branch will be alive, but it will often be scrawny and dry. When branches of a vine gather together they nourish, strengthen and support each other allowing each branch to grow bigger and produce more fruit.
As tempting as it is to isolate yourself from other believers (even if you feel you have a good reason), God knows best. God knew we would need each other to get through this Christian life which is why He told us to gather together.
Does gathering together mean you attend some mega-church? Not really.
If we follow the example of the church in Acts we see that gathering together is about living life with each other. Getting really close to a few believers, eating together, playing together, and growing in the Word together are what the Bible teaches is church life.
Have you isolated yourself or are you living life with other Christians?
What Did Jesus Say About Church?
“I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.” (John 17:20-21 NASB)
Jesus said to be united, and He prayed that for us as well as the followers hearing Him that day. United demands we are together, abiding together.
Does the Bible say not to go to church? No, quite the opposite. We are told to abide in Christ and not to be alone. We are told to gather together and be in unity. Maybe that’s a group of believers who meet in a home or maybe that’s in a church building, but meet!
Alone Is Unwise
A final thought about avoiding being alone in your Christian walk.
“He who separates himself seeks his own desire, He quarrels against all sound wisdom.” (Proverbs 18:1 NASB)
I wrestled with this for a long time because the church hurt me. It’s easier to grow alone without the fear of hurt. Or so it seemed. But scriptures tell us it is selfish and unwise to separate yourself from other believers.
These are just some of the consequences of living outside the Christian community – the Church.
- It is easier for the enemy to attach you alone.
- Other believers (hypocrites or not, hurtful or not) help us grow, bringing strength and support.
- Your gifts are needed to help others grow.
- The Body of Christ functions best in unity.
A Prayer to Abide in Christ by Not being alone
I confess the hurt I have caused to others as I have been too legalistic, judgmental, prideful, jealous, and prone to gossip. Please forgive me for being the hypocrite that has hurt another believer and stopped them from coming to church.
Make us more like You, loving, accepting, patient and kind. Take away our desire for cliques and make us a place that welcomes all.
Forgive us, the Church, for turning so many away from You. Soften our hearts and heal those we have wounded.
20 Questions About What Does The Bible Say About Going To Church
We have asked and answered well over 20 questions about what does the Bible say about going to church? Was the answer surprising? Going to church is about doing life together with others who love Jesus. To abide in Christ is to stay connected to The Body of Christ.
We also saw some controversial answers to the question, what does the bible say about church? Church is a group of believers gathered together in His name. Maybe they gather in a field or a home. Maybe they gather in a stadium or an old theatre. Perhaps they gather in a stained glass building. Regardless of the where, the who is what matters.
Did these answers help you work through the issue of church attendance, religious guilt or wounded pride?
There are moments I don’t want to forgive the hurt of the past or I want to hold back from fully stepping out in a church. Other times I am worn so thin, but I feel I must be at every single church event to be a good Christian. Neither extreme is Biblical. We must find a balance and remember it is more about the relationship than the religious expectations.