You don't need to go to church.
I'll say it again. You don't need to go to church - IF . . .
. . . if you're not a God follower. You just don't. Why would you? Church services are for believers to worship their Creator and Savior and fellowship with other believers. Those who don't claim Jesus as Savior are always welcome, of course, and undoubtedly gain benefit from being part of a worship service.
But your friend's assertion that "I can be just as close to God on the golf course" - or fishing, or anywhere else - is absolutely correct.
I figure, with no disrespect intended, that someone who hasn't thrown in and signed on with the Creator is just as likely - or unlikely - to encounter Him in a life-changing fashion on the first tee as on the last pew of most church gatherings.
But non-believers are not likely to be reading this, which is just as well because these words are for those of us who have signed on the dotted line and confessed Jesus as Savior, who call ourselves Christians.
No Church Lady stuff here, no guilt trip, no rules about the percentage of Sundays you should be in church. No brow beating.
No, this is a legitimate response to a genuine question that comes from the new (or not-so-new) Christian who asks “Do I really need to go to church?".
So . . . you ready?
Yeah, you do need to. You should be "in church" because you're part of the body.
Now before you tune me out (if you haven't already) because you think I'm just using a "church phrase", let's think about it together.
Paul's analogy describing the Church as the body of Christ in I Corinthians 12 is awesome, thought-provoking, and a little funny. I mean, how would you feel if your nose whispered in your ear? Shades of Steve Martin in “Roxanne”.
But even though the loss of a body part helped make those people who they are today, it’s safe to say that the physical tasks they attempt would be more successful if they had all their body parts and they were all working together correctly.
A close friend of mine recently had a stroke. We might call it a “minor” stroke because it didn’t completely incapacitate him. Even so a lot of things still don’t work right.
One evening as he lay in his recliner he noticed something wriggling on his stomach. Horrified, and without moving lest he agitate whatever it was, he urgently called for his wife. When she arrived he whispered “What is this thing on my stomach?”.
She whispered back “It’s your hand”.
A hand is awesome when it’s connected and working correctly. When it’s working on it’s own it’s disconcerting.
Or worse, when it’s separated from the body, it’s not useful. And creepy?!? Who is not at least mildly disturbed by the sight of severed limbs? Even though he was charming on “The Addams Family” tv show, I wouldn’t want “Thing” running around my house.
So even though we can get some teaching on tv, get our “praise” on with our favorite worship cd, and approximate all sorts of worship service elements by ourselves, that’s really not how the Body was created to operate. Christ loved THE CHURCH and gave himself for it (Eph. 5:25). We shouldn't forsake gathering to worship (Heb. 10:25).
We take vacations, we get sick, water heaters break, and all manner of emergencies happen. Sometimes we just can’t make it. And we shouldn’t beat ourselves up about it.
But to paraphrase (loosely) Steve Martin’s character in “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”:
"It is better to worship with others . . . than to not."
And that’s the “Thing” about going to church.
WHAT SAY YOU?