Christian community · Christian Living

What’s the Point of Going to Church if I Can Worship God Anywhere?

“Why do I have to go to church?”

“I can do “church” on my own.”

“I don’t get anything out of it.”

I’ve heard all of them. I used to say the last one in my weaker seasons.

I once had a friend tell me, “I can worship God anywhere. I can do church in a forest. I can do it alone.” In one sense, he was right. We can worship God on the highest mountain or the lowest pit. He is not confined to a church building, but God intended for us to have community as Christians so we could help each other.

So what’s the point of “going to church” if I can worship God anywhere?

What if it is boring, inconvenient, or full of hypocrites?

What is “Church?”

The church is not a place, it’s people. We are a people called out of darkness, called out of the world, and called to come together and glorify the Savior.

If you look up church in the dictionary, it will define “church” as a building. The Bible, however, contains a different meaning. “Church” as it is used in the New Testament is translated from the Greek, ekklesia, which literally means “called out” or “called forth.” The Greeks used it to describe an assembly of people.

In other words, we don’t “go to church,” we “gather with the church.”

Why Do I Have to Worship with the Church?

In the scriptures, Christians were not always able to assemble. Some were slaves. Some, like Paul, were often traveling to encourage and establish congregations, and could not make it to a local congregation for worship. Others found themselves imprisoned and praised the Lord from dark, lonely cells.

With all those examples, the argument for assembling with fellow Christians seems pretty slim, doesn’t it?

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

~ Hebrews 10.23-25, ESV

When we meet together with fellow Christians, it is a time of pouring out. I pour out praise to my Creator, thanksgiving for my Savior, and encouragement to my brothers and sisters. Even if I—like the widow who helped Elijah—only have a few drops of “oil” in my heart, God can multiply my meager ration to serve others abundantly.

There will be times and circumstances when being with other Christians will be impossible. I can’t tell you how many services I’ve missed because I had a sick child to care for, but when that child was well, we were at the next available “assembly.” Remember those who are confined to nursing homes, hospitals, or their own homes and encourage them.

What If I’m Not Getting Anything Out of Worship?

If you aren’t “getting anything out of worship” start asking what you can put into it.

In serving, God provides the “filling” we long for. When seek encouragement through prayer, the Spirit will provide. There have been more than a few times I went to worship not “feeling it.” I was either combatting some sin of pride or selfishness, neglecting the study of the scriptures each day, or grappling with depression. Nearly every single time I would attend in spite of my feelings, I would be rebuked through a sermon, a song, or a point in bible class. Refreshing has always come through gentle hugs or the comfort of the scriptures. The Spirit works through us and through His Word. He will supply all we need and give us the opportunity to supply for the needs of others.

What if “The Church” is Full of Hypocrites?

“Those” people.

They act grumpy or aloof. They mess up. They fall asleep during worship. They say one thing and do another. They attend worship on Sunday and act like the world Monday through Saturday.

Am I one of “those” people?

What if I insert “I” into the above statements? If I honestly examine myself, would I be guilty of doing?

We all mess up. At some point, we have said one thing and done something different. Unbeknownst to us, we may come across as unfeeling, uncaring, or unloving.

Even if you yourself aren’t a hypocrite, there could be some serious hypocrites in your congregation or people who “don’t seem to get it.”

If the church itself is discouraging to you, it’s time to start looking at how Christ loved people who “didn’t always get it” (like His disciples):

He prayed for them.

He encouraged them.

He rebuked them when necessary.

He loved them always.

Am I praying for “those people” who discourage me, or do I roll my eyes and hope they’ll go somewhere else?

Am I encouraging my brothers and sisters or do I stand around waiting for someone to encourage me?

Am I willing to confront someone drowning in sinful behavior or do I turn a blind eye?

Am I loving my fellow Christians—regardless of the strength or weakness of their faith—the way Jesus loves me?

Remember, church is not a place, it’s people—and not just any “people.” We are a people called out of darkness, intended to shine Christ’s light. We are a people who should love God and our fellow Christians so much that going to worship Him is a joy and not a burden.

We are part of something special—don’t take it for granted.

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

~ 1 Peter 2:9-10, ESV


This article originally appeared on The Courage. For more articles on Faith, Family, and Culture, visit TheCourage.com.

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16 thoughts on “What’s the Point of Going to Church if I Can Worship God Anywhere?

  1. Elihu, great post. Can I reblog your post by stating your post’s URL in my blog for reference? Please take a look at my recent blog post about Bible Study today. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Lynn. Worshipping with the saints consistently is a critical part of our walk with God. It saddens me to see so much disdain and/or apathy towards the church.

      God be with you, Lynn.

      Like

  2. After many years of gathering with the church, I have more recently been unable to do so due to health issues. During this time, I have become acutely aware of what I am missing. I am thankful that I am able to worship God from my home, but definitely feel the loss of the precious gathering.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kim, I am so sorry you have not been able to worship with the saints, but I am thankful also that you are able to worship where you are.

      Do other Christians come to see you? Are you able to listen to a sermon podcast or something? I hope you are at least being given some companionship from the brethren even if you cannot be at the assembly each week.

      I pray for the Lord to meet all your needs and provide healing according to His will. He has a way of supplying in the midst of every dry season.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I listen to a Bible study from my church’s Sunday school online, gather with a small group that is able to accommodate my physical needs, and study many many Spurgeon sermons.

        Thanks so much for your prayers!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Nice piece, Elihu. I agree with much of what you said. I stumbled here:

    “We are a people who should love God and our fellow Christians so much that going to worship Him is a joy and not a burden.”

    You said “going to worship Him”. I guess that’s what a lot of people this going to Church is about, and for me, it’s one of the issues I have with that. Like you’ve made a distinction between the building and the Church, we don’t go to Church, neither do we go to worship, for we are perpetually in worship. I believe we gather to fellowship; and that includes worshippinh together and encouraging one another.

    I guess my issue has been with the leadership and traditions of these Fellowships. There’s a reason I don’t fellowship with Catholics. Not because I think I can do “Church” all by myself, but because our disagreement on many significant issues is too great to overlook. Basically, I don’t trust that the leadership is submitted or led by God, and thus to gather with them without believing that they are actually in unity with Christ would be just playing religion.

    I think that brings us to the issue of the existence of demoninations and why they are so many, and whether or not we ought to be selective about who we gather with… As long as we are able to discern, and as long as there are still wolves dressed as sheep, we may probably find ourselves out of the “Church” looking for Christians. I don’t know if you get me.

    Fellowship, unity and understanding is what I crave, and I’ve been through so many stages with this, including years of being in particular place and trying to settle. I’m still learning on this journey, and one of the things I am learning is how to appreciate the journey and let things take their course, as we sincerely hunger and thirst for righteousness.

    Blessings x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think I understand what you mean. What I meant by the initial m statement is going to a service of worship with other Christians… I didn’t word it well.

      I agree—we ought always to be in a state of worship. There are, however, times when we meet with Christians for the express purpose of worshipping him together.

      I also think I understand what you mean about “looking for Christians.” Even within a group of mostly like-minded believers, we will inevitably find some who are not following in the footsteps of Jesus. We will also meet people who aren’t part of our same “group” who are walking with Christ. It is a journey, and may the Lord direct you as you pursue Him. May He draw us closer to Him and each other as we grow in grace and knowledge. 😊

      Like

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