“I’m a Christian, but I don’t like going to church.”
This is a common adage among today’s Christians, as it is has become increasingly popular to stay at home and pray, meditate, or study the Bible at home, in lieu of attending church.
But Ligonier Ministries founder and chairman R.C. Sproul says that this seemingly innocent group should be the cause for concern.
Sproul explains that while failing to attend church will not send a Christian to hell, it is not what God intended for His people.
“When God constituted the people of Israel, He organized them into a visible nation and placed upon them a sober and sacred obligation to be in corporate worship before Him. If a person is in Christ, he is called to participate in koinonia—the fellowship of other Christians and the worship of God according to the precepts of Christ,” Sproul writes.
“If a person knows all these things and persistently and willfully refuses to join in them, would that not raise serious questions about the reality of that person’s conversion?”
Sproul then issues this dire warning to Christians who skip church: “You may, in fact, be deluding yourself about the state of your soul.”
Mark Dever of Jesus.org takes a similar position on the issue, writing:
“When a person becomes a Christian, he doesn't just join a local church because it's a good habit for growing in spiritual maturity. He joins a local church because it's the expression of what Christ has made him - a member of the body of Christ. Being united to Christ means being united to every Christian.”
“If you have no interest in actually committing yourself to an actual group of gospel-believing, Bible-teaching Christians, you might question whether you belong to the body of Christ at all.”
Christians have a variety of reasons for not liking church, and some of them are warranted. If the church is not acting as it was directed in scripture, that is cause for concern. If money is used recklessly in the church or if it teaches false doctrine, the church is not being governed by the rules outlined in the New Testament. These are good reasons to leave, as Philip Nation tells Christianity.com.
“For the believer who says, ‘I want to be a Christian, but I don’t want to go to church,’ I would challenge them to think very clearly what is it that you want to reject. If what you want to reject is outside of the boundaries of what the New Testament defines as the church, then you’re on solid ground. Reject it.”
But there are bad reasons to reject church too, he says, and Christians need examine their hearts to before they leave for good.
“If what you’re rejecting is accountability, or what you’re rejecting is gathering together for worship because you’re uncomfortable with something about the style, or what you’re rejecting is being on mission because you’re looking for a comfortable, padded pew to sit in, then it’s time for an assessment of the heart. Because you’re rejecting parts of the body of Christ that are necessary for your own spiritual growth.”
Have you heard that common statement, “I’m a Christian, but I don’t like going to church”? How should we approach this group of Christians who are missing such an important part of the Christian faith?
Carrie Dedrick is the Family Editor of Crosswalk.com.
Publication date: Oct. 2, 2015