Why do I need to go to Church? That is a question we often hear. I ask my non-church attending friends if they are worshipping in a local congregation. And they respond with, “Why do I need to go to church?” I can just worship in my living room. I worship best sitting in the woods near a stream. I can worship God anytime I want. I don’t need to go to a church to be spiritual. And they do have a point.
These past months have brought many changes in how we do ministry and education and meetings. Online presence has grown dramatically. Anything you want to find, you can locate on-line. In this digital, social media packed world, you can find music, movies, business meetings, gaming communities, social groups, family reunions, plus more.
In terms of your Christian faith life, you can find multiple worship services from a variety of Christian denominations on a Sunday morning or anytime during the week that you can watch on your own personal device from your own comfy living room; you can hear great Christian messages and sermons from renowned preachers.
You can listen to solid Bible teachings from professional Biblical scholars. You can tune in to Bible study podcasts on your favorite phone app or your local Christian radio station. Worship music in your favorite style by your favorite Christian artist is outstanding and professional on YouTube and includes a music video, or you can download your favorites on your personal digital device and listen anytime anywhere.
You can write to Christian websites with your prayer requests or call a toll-free phone number and a prayer leader will pray with you regarding your concerns. You can contribute gifts to your favorite Christian charities from around the world. All this is fabulous, and the Lord God cares for the needs of his people and shares the Holy Spirit’s gifts with so many around the world. These Christian resources are not just local, they are global.
So why do you need to have a church home and attend your local Christian congregation? Let’s see what Jesus has to say about this matter. He would have known from generations of human experience this would need to be addressed. The writer of Hebrews in the New Testament, after Christ’s resurrection and ascension needed to draw attention to this in his community by writing: “We should keep on encouraging each other to be thoughtful and to do helpful things. Some people have gotten out of the habit of meeting for worship, but we must not do that. We should keep on encouraging each other, especially since you know that the day of the Lord’s coming is getting closer.” Hebrews 10:24-25 (CEV) We are to encourage and urge each other as Christians to find and attend and participate in the life of a local Christian community. But my friend would still ask “why?” Just like the Genesis 3 deception in the garden of Eden, we want to twist God’s word to make it suit ourselves. Do we really need to meet together with other people in a local congregation, we ask? Hear again what the Lord God has to say about such matters when it comes to our hearts and deception: “The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful, a puzzle that no one can figure out. But I, God, search the heart and examine the mind. I get to the heart of the human. I get to the root of things. I treat them as they really are, not as they pretend to be.” Jeremiah 17:9-10 (The Message) It is so easy for us to be deceived by the devil, to go our own way, to think that we’re really not that bad(not disobedient), that we won’t get separated from the love of God in Christ Jesus and his grace. It is easy for each of us to minimize our sin and to forget how much Jesus loves you when you are all alone. The devil works to separate you from your community of faith in order to attack.
So why attend your local Christian congregation? There are a number of reasons. We each need faithful spiritual Christian encouragement from fellow Christians in your location. You might need pastoral spiritual care from a real live pastor in person to fight off the deceitful schemes of the devil. We need personal people who care for you and love you and pray for you when going through difficulties and to celebrate the joys.
We need each other in order to hear God’s Word of grace and love in Jesus Christ more fully and deeply in our own experiences. We need weekly gatherings of fellow Christians for worship of God and prayer and study so that we do not fall into the temptations and deceptions of our own wills and ways. We need to each hear the Truth in God’s Word in our local Christian community. Is your local congregation perfect? By no means! We gather as fellow sinners, honestly assessing ourselves and shortcoming in light of what the Lord demands and commands BUT also gather to hear God’s gracious word of love and forgiveness and a changed life by Jesus Christ.
If you are looking for a church home or feeling curious to know more about Jesus, please check out Grace Lutheran Church in Jackson Center or a local Christian church near you.
The writers are pastors at Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jackson Center.