Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Church Attendance Is Not A Necessity For Christians
Look out - I'm about to make an argument against attending church.
I know how unreasonable this might sound, but it's a topic with which I've been struggling lately, so I've got some definite thoughts bubbling up to share here.
Recently, studies have shown that many kids raised in church leave the church - and the Christian faith - as they begin college. Some of that is normal age-specific identity search, but much of it is the combined force of the churches they attended not providing them with solid Biblical knowledge and good study in Christian apologetics while, at the same time, not receiving - or seeing - any real practice in Ten Commandment Christian tenets in their own homes during the week.
There is no surer truth than that Christianity - like most things - is a 'get out of it what you put into it' kind of a deal. The more you practice your faith, the better you become at practicing it. If we don't practice our Christianity at home, going to church once a Sunday - or even more often - won't do a thing to woo our children to the faith, or keep them strong in its practice.
There is much about 'church' in the new testament - especially from Paul. In fact, when I searched the specific word 'together' in my electronic Bible, I find too many references to count. Many of these passages describe assemblages of people brought together for the purpose of hearing a message or receiving news of some kind.
For believers in Jesus' time, meeting together was an absolute necessity. The Romans had no interest in the Christian faith, and in fact, persecuted practitioners of a faith that was brand new to them and undertaken without the benefit of the written instruction we have in the Bible. Meeting together with other believers solidified faith (Romans 1:12), provided community prayer for one another and the apostles (2 Corinthians 1:1), gave comfort to those in need (Colossians 2:2) and allowed individuals to "provoke [one another] unto love and good works" (Hebrews 10:24-25) in a world exceedingly hostile to their way of life.
Today, Christians all over America - as has been the case for Christians in numerous other countries for centuries - are feeling a sense of persecution for their faith, yet what is one of the largest responses to this situation from the great bodies of believers meeting together in buildings called churches? Acceptance, and in some cases, beyond acceptance into proponency. How many churches (bodies of believers) speak out against abortion or the normalizing of sins such as homosexuality, adultery or alcoholism, as society continues to press on with these practices?
No church is perfect. Every church is comprised of a body of sinners. However, if the pastor and other believers within the church don't actively either rebuke sin or work heartily at striving to be better at the practice of Christianity, what is the point of attending that church?
Almost a decade ago, I removed my children from public education - not even so much because of a need to provide a more religious education - but because I thought school was doing a terrible job at the overall job of educating my children and because I realized I was letting an institution do a job the Bible tells me is mine. Proverbs 22:6 says, "Train up a child in the way he should go...". Diagramming that sentence makes clear that the unwritten subject is YOU. You are to train up your children. Unfortunately, a relatively few Christian parents harbor the same notion. Why? How many actively read their Bibles? How many are either taught this practice or the importance of this practice?
I'm beginning to believe, that in the same way public schools alleviate the need - and desire - of parents to instruct their own children, churches can take away the need and desire of individuals to study the Bible. Read about the beginnings of this country where, though there were churches for corporate worship, families read and studied the Bible more often on their own. How much more Christian in nature was this particular country for it's first hundred or so years than today based on that practice?
For many, as with homeschooling, home 'churching' is becoming an ever growing population segment. At home Bible study allows a family to study tenets and practices of Christianity and the Bible as specifically effects their families' immediate needs and situations. In addition, tithing directly to a non-profit organization such as the Salvation Army provides a way to assist others, while helping those in need in our direct communities force us to 'get our hands dirty' in the same manner as Jesus. Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating for the removal or abandonment of churches at all, but I am asserting that church is not an absolute necessity for everyone or even the continuation of the Christian faith.
In fact, I would go so far as to argue that leaving a 'dead' church - even if that means worshiping at home - is absolute necessity.
In the end, there are many ways to establish and walk among a community of believers - those who share your Christian convictions - without the requirement of a specific building or corporate belief system and we should be sensitive to that fact. As with all things, this is simply a topic to think on for ourselves, while we abstain from condemning others who choose to follow a different path to Christian worship and study than we. As Paul says in Romans (8:1), There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit.