Christianity without church

The Bible teaches us that Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it.  It also teaches us to be imitators of Christ.  Therefore, as His followers we should be lovers of the church.  Yet so many claim to be followers of Christ and don’t have any connection to a church.

I have probably heard just about every reason that could be given for this during almost three decades of ministry.  Most of the time those who give the reasons are not interested in a conversation about it.  It’s like they have a canned answer that frankly sounds more like an excuse.

But on the up side, after listening to them for all these years. I now have plenty of excuses not to go to church.  So if your pastor doesn’t show up for church on any given Sunday, just pick one of these for me.

I don’t go to church because:

                Sunday is my only day to sleep in.

                There are too many hypocrites there.

                I believe in God but I don’t believe in organized religion.

                I have been hurt by a church (or churches.)

                All they want is my money.

                I’m just as good as the people who go there.

                You don’t have to go to church to be a Christian.

                There aren’t any good churches in my area.

                We always spend our Sundays at (choose one) the lake, the river, the campground, the races.

Ok.  I know you’re not going to let me get by with that.  The church is too important to be neglected by me or by any other genuine follower of Christ.  Hebrews 10:25 teaches us that we should meet together for the purpose of encouraging each other.  1st Corinthians 12 teaches us that the church is the body of Christ and each of us make up a different part of that body.

God designed it to be cohesive.  He never intended for us to be “lone wolf” Christians.  Instead we have the privilege and the obligation to be a specific and important part of something much bigger.  And because God has designed you to be a specific part of it, it is less than it could be when you withdraw from its fellowship.  And you are less than you could be if you were a part of its fellowship.

With that in mind, let me take a moment to tell you what I would like to tell those who offer these excuses if they were willing to stick around long enough to listen.

Sunday is my only day to sleep in.

No it isn’t. You can sleep in any day you want to.  What’s that?  You would get fired you say?  Well of course you would.  I didn’t say there wouldn’t be consequences.  I just said you could do it.  Everything has consequences.  Even sleeping in on Sunday.

There are too many hypocrites there.

I know it.  But you might like to know that God has the same opinion of hypocrites that you do.  He is not happy with them either.  But I would rather have those hypocrites in church where they are hearing the Gospel each week than to have them stay home.   Who knows?  Maybe one of these Sundays God will get their attention and they will be done with their fraudulent living.

I believe in God but I don’t believe in organized religion.

It seems that God does believe in organized Christianity.  That is clear in the way He describes it as a body with various parts.  It is clear in many the scriptures that teach how the church is to operate organizationally.  A quick read through either the Old or New Testaments will show us that God has His people operating within a structure.

I have been hurt by a church (or churches.)

So have I.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that I have experienced that as much as almost anyone reading this today.  But I have also been hurt by people on the job, people I went to school with, and even by employees where I have shopped.  Most of us have been hurt by members of our own family.  But the church is too important to walk away from over some hurt feelings.  When you realize how important the church is to Jesus you won’t allow a little thing like hurt feelings keep you from being the part of it God made you to be.

All they want is my money.

Jesus taught that giving is a blessing and that it will be rewarded.  If you believed what He taught you would look forward to giving back a small part of what God gave you in the first place.  I know there are stories that surface from time to time about preachers living in luxury while their poor parishioners give sacrificially.  But those cases are rare when compared with the number of churches that struggle to pay the utility bills.  Most Christians count it a blessing to be able to contribute financially.

I’m just as good as the people who go there.

Assuming you are right, how does that excuse you from being the part of the body that Christ designed you to be?

You don’t have to go to church to be a Christian.

Living in willful disobedience to the known will of God is not a characteristic associated with being a follower of Jesus.  Some people are physically unable to go to church for one reason or another.  Some just choose to do things their way instead of God’s way.  Which one describes you?

There aren’t any good churches in my area.

Then find the best one you can.  Become a part of it.  Then work to make it the kind of church it should be.  It’s easy to stand on the outside and throw criticisms.  How about getting in here and helping us be what God intended us to be.

We always spend our Sundays at (choose one) the lake, the river, the campground, the races.

Do you know how blessed you are to be able to do these things?  So you take the blessings God has given you and make them the priority in your life.  It seems a pretty ungrateful response toward the giver of all good gifts.

 

What it is always going to come down to is this.  Is the church important or not?   Christ thought it was.  He thought it was important enough to give Himself for it.  Do you?

~Pastor Brady Stephens

One thought on “Christianity without church

  1. Teresa Conley Blake March 7, 2016 / 9:06 pm

    Very good read Brady! Thank you for sharing!

    Like

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