Why You Shouldn’t Go to Church

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Reading the title, you might think we’ve gone off the deep end. The purpose of this episode is to describe how you can live your Christian life without the unnecessary burden on the local church….. JK!

Spoiler alert: the title for this episode is definitely “clickbaity.”

What we’re actually trying to say is that so many people (ourselves included) talk about “going” to church, but if we honestly look at the biblical definitions of these terms, it would be more accurate to say “we’re gathering with the church” on Sunday mornings or “I’m meeting with ______ at the Open Door building.” Full disclosure, The Sibley family often says this too but is wanting to get more intentional with wording.

Which kind of church?

We’ve talked about it before, but let’s recap the difference between capital C Church and lowercase c church.

Capital C Church is comprised of all believers in the world.

Lowercase c church is comprised of your local gathering and fellowship of like-minded believers. 

This episode is focusing on the lowercase c, local church gathering of believers.

Going vs. Gathering

Our words have meaning! If we say “we’re going to church”, the emphasis is on the building. And too often as Western Christians, when we think of our church the first visual that comes to mind is the imagery of the church building.

But, when you say “gathering with the church” the emphasis is on the gathering, the people. Everyone knows if the building where the church gathers burns down, the church that meets there would still exist.

We need to emphasize the gathering, not the building.

Why does it matter?

In our culture, Christians tend to have a very shallow view of the local church. They “go to church on Sunday” and that’s about it. It’s viewed more as an attendance thing!

The church was meant to be so much more than that. Think about it- when we say “we go to church” on Sunday mornings, subconsciously this constitutes what it means to be a Christian in most places in the U.S. 

Faith has been reduced to attending a church service. So many people put their assurance of salvation in going to church, but what saves is our faith in Jesus Christ! This even applies to sanctification and growing as a believer. 99% of our growth happens outside of the church building!

The Purpose of the Local Gathering

We also talked about this in our online church episode, but we’ll break down the purpose of the local church, the local gathering of believers here too.

The Necessary Components

At a minimum, there are two necessary components of church (we would say three components).

John Wesley (founder of the Methodist church) emphasized the importance of faith being communal and had 3 distinct groups that he urged his members to take part in:

  • Societies: large classroom settings where members were taught, sang together, etc… (similar to the Sunday morning gathering of the church)
  • Classes: mixed-gender groups of about 10-12 people (essentially modern-day small groups). 
  • Bands: same gender, same marital status, and similar age groups.

    Bands were voluntary cells of people who professed a clear Christian faith and who desired to grow in love, holiness, and purity of intention. They included ruthless honesty and frank openness. Members sought to improve their attitudes, emotions, feelings, intentions, and affections. Kind of like accountability groups 

Every time we do an episode on the local church we will return to this threefold idea of societies, bands, and classes. Even though we are not Methodists, I (Nathaniel), LOVE how Wesley viewed these three components. I think for all believers, these three components are necessary for a believer’s life.

We both go to a large group gathering and a small group gathering and have accountability partners. Yes, it does take a lot of time. But, it’s worth it and a necessity in a believer’s life.

The ultimate purpose of the local body of believers is to glorify God through corporate worship. Some other important and necessary purposes of the gathering are to:

  • Partake in the ordinances (baptism and communion) together and fellowship together
  • Hear the preaching of God’s Word.
  • Meet the needs of others. You have to do daily life with others to know people and hear their stories in order to know what needs to meet!
  • Grow, be held accountable, and fight stagnation.

True Relationships

Too often, Christians follow the world when it comes to relationships. What we mean by that, is we live our lives privately, only having surface-level relationships with others. We will talk about the weather, sports, or podcasts we like, but we won’t talk about our porn, marital, self-harm, or anger struggles, etc… Nobody is watching how we’re living our life, asking deep, hard questions, and holding us accountable. This is the role of the body of the local church.

Additional Purposes of the Local Church

  • To be encouraged, strengthened, challenged, and trained. 2 Timothy 3 tells us how Scripture does these very things!
  • To pray communally as a body of believers 
  • To be a witness to our city

So Much More

So as you can see, the local church is so much more than the building. It’s so much more than what happens on Sunday mornings. It’s the gathering of fellow believers. It is living and breathing and constant and active. It is who and what Christ died for. He didn’t die for the building, he died for individuals and members- all who call on his name and believe in him.

This language is going to be pretty difficult for us to get out of our heads. But it is good to be mindful of our words and evaluate ourselves. What do you really believe about the local church? Do you value it? How do you use your time, money, and service in relation to your beliefs about it? What is your most precious commodity and are you willing to sacrifice it for the church? Start focusing on that and discipline yourself to give of it.

One Degree Shift

Start paying attention to the language you use about the church and the gathering of the local body of believers. The church is not a building, it’s the people.

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