|©1998, 1999 by Clarifying Christianity (SM).
Christianity is true, verifiable, and provable; so it makes sense to find a great church to learn more about God, Jesus, and the Bible. Still, most people who have not been to church in awhile need the answers to two questions:
We explore both of these issues on this page.
- Can a person be a Christian and not attend church?
- How do I go about finding a good church?
Can a person be a Christian and not attend church?
This is a valid question, since going to church does not save people. They are saved (and get to go to heaven) by getting right with God. Still, getting right with God is only the start of being a Christian, as a birth is only the start of having a life.
We understand that some people may find themselves in a position where they do not attend church for a short time. (Perhaps they just moved to a new city and have not found a church, or are in the hospital and can not physically go to church.) That is not what we are referring to in this section. This section is about people who can not be bothered with going to church and purposefully and consistently stay away from church. We believe that such people can not remain Christians for at least three reasons:
A Special Comment
- The Bible has no examples of anyone who was right with God but also stood alone and did not spend time with other believers. Hebrews 10:23-25 tells us clearly that we should gather together and encourage and spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
- In Ephesians 5:21-33, Paul tells us how husbands and wives ought to relate to one another. There, he teaches that Christ relates to the church as if it were His "bride." He always wants the best for her and loves the church so much that He gave himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25). If you told someone, "I love you and I want to have a close relationship with you, but I can't stand being around your spouse at all," you might get a punch in the nose! In the same way, people who say "I love Jesus, but I do not want to have anything to do with the church," are putting up a wall between themselves and Jesus.
- Using figures of speech, Ephesians 5:23 and Colossians 1:18 refer to Christ as the "head" and the church as the "body." 1 Corinthians chapter 12 further explains how the church (the body) is made up of individuals who work together, pooling their talents, skills, and strengths-all for the purpose of helping as many people as possible get right with God and grow closer to Him. To refuse to be a part of the body is to say that we do not want to follow God's plan. In a sense, such people believe that by acting on their own that they have a better plan than God does. There is a lot of arrogance in such thinking.
Church can be a gathering of thousands in a "mega-church." It could also be a few people getting together for breakfast at a restaurant and helping each other "grow in Christ," since Jesus says, "For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them" (Matthew 18:20).
"Growth in Christ" happens when we meet to "spur one another on toward love and good deeds" (Hebrews 10:24) or "sharpen" each other (Proverbs 27:17). It does not have to be in a church building on Sunday morning. It is possible that some of us may live where there are no churches close by, or those that are available do not follow the Bible. We still have a responsibility to do all we can to locate other believers and get together with them. We may need to start something on our own and do our best to help people around us get right with God, so we can grow from there.
How do I go about finding a good church?
Unfortunately, the only exposure many of us have had to a church is seeing someone on TV (who also happened to be a little strange).
Others might make a plunge and go to a church because someone invited them. However, you can still have one or more of the following reactions:
The obvious result: few new people return for more.
- "What they had to say had nothing to do with the real world."
- "They used weird talk, lots of words I never heard before."
- "They didn't really use the Bible, and I didn't learn anything new."
- "They seemed more interested in my money than anything else."
- "The music was pretty bad."
- "They asked the new folks to stand up and introduce themselves."
- "Frankly, the people I met there seemed a little odd. They also seemed to have their own personal opinion of everything."
Actually, church should be:
"Existentialism" probably needs some clarification. The formal definition is "each person exists as an individual in a purposeless universe, who must oppose the hostile environment through the exercise of their free will."
- Practical and relevant to today's world.
- Use normal language.
- Follow the Bible, using it as their only source of God's truth, and their final authority.
- Let the visitors know that they are not expected to give any money.
- Have good music.
- Allow people to visit the church without putting them "under a spotlight" or have them do something they would not normally do in public.
- Teach the truth, not existentialism.
Put simply, this says that since we are "on our own" in the universe, we can believe anything that seems right to us. But does believing something make it true? For example, if someone told you to use the brake on your car instead of the accelerator because it "made sense to them," how far would you get? Obviously, you need to be told the truth, so you can use the accelerator to make your car move.
The same thing is true of Christianity. Since it is true, verifiable, and provable; we need to know the truth-not some person's opinion or interpretation. It just makes sense-if God is really God, He should know exactly what we need and how to tell us using the Bible.
So now the question is, how do I find a good church in my area? To help you get started, we placed several links below. The first link will give you an example of what you should look for in a good church teaching. You will find it more interesting than you first suspect. The second link will give you examples good church music. (They are also better than you might think they would be.) The next two links should lead you to better-than-average churches. Sometimes the first church you try will be perfect (it happened to my brother-in-law, who lives 1000 miles from here). Sometimes the first church you try will be less-than-ideal.
Use the checklists above. If you attend a service and they do not do any of the bad things, and do all of the good things, then you located a winner. Even a great church may miss on one minor point (such as passing an offering plate past everyone) but it should consistently pass this test. Never accept a church where the speaker does not teach the truth out of the Bible. If the church you try fails your test, scratch it off your list and try a different one next Sunday. Remember that you are looking for a source of eternal truth and it is worth some time and effort.
Copyright © 1998, 1999 by Clarifying Christianity (SM).
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