Welcome to our Wednesday “Ask Beau” post. The purpose of this weekly feature is to provide you, our readers, with biblical responses to questions you have about practical issues that you face.
We invite you to submit questions for future “Ask Beau” posts by contacting us at email@example.com, or by leaving a comment.
(Note: This post was originally published on thefrontieratgrace.com on May 27, 2011.)
Today’s question: “Is it necessary for a Christian to go to church?”
This is an interesting question. The answer: “Yes,” if by “going to church” you mean regularly meeting with and relating to other believers in a local body.
Western Christians in particular emphasize the individual aspects of a person’s relationship with God, and this is fine. We definitely need to relate rightly to God as individuals. However, some go further and say that don’t need to be in regular fellowship with other Christians in some sort of organized body.
It has never been easier to be a “solo Christian.” Men who want to listen to a sermon at home can access preachers who are much better than me via the Internet. Technology puts all sorts of commentaries and biblical resources within a person’s reach. You could live some semblance of an informed Christian life from a cave (assuming you could get voice and data reception there).
Still, the Bible is full of instructions for people to relate properly to other believers. There are a ton of “one another” commands in the New Testament. Christians are to “be devoted to one another” (Romans 12:10), “agree with one another” (1 Corinthians 1:10), “greet one another” (various passages), “serve one another” (Galatians 5:13), “speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” (Ephesians 5:19), and more (NIV).
There’s simply no way that a man can obey the spirit of these and other passages without being in a consistent relationship with other believers, including meeting with them regularly (Hebrews 10:25).
Beyond this, the Bible expects Christians to be under the authority of a local body. The author of Hebrews told Christians to obey those that have oversight of them (Hebrews 13:17). Paul instructed Titus to appoint elders in the churches of Crete (Titus 1:5), and he gave detailed information about the qualifications for elders (1 Timothy 3:1–7; Titus 1:6–9). Peter appealed to his fellow elders to be good shepherds (1 Peter 5:1–2). All of these passages show that Christians are to lead and/or be led by other Christians.
The Lone Ranger mentality may be appealing in our culture, but it has no place among those of us who believe the Bible is God’s Word. We need other believers, and what’s more, other believers need us.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Please feel free to leave a comment.
— Beau Stanley