By John Telgren
Why should I go to church? I have heard this question many times from many people over the years. The question itself may show a misunderstanding of what “church” is. Church is not a place, nor is it a time. The word itself simply means, “assembly.” According to scripture, the church is the body of Christ and consists of the people of God. Since the church is the people of God, then you don’t go to church, you are the church. In fact, God’s concern is not for us to merely go to church, but for us to be the church.
An integral characteristic of the church is our connection not only to Christ as the head (Eph 1:22-23), but also to one another (1 Cor 12:12-14). This is why the Bible calls us the “body” of Christ. We don’t distance ourselves from Christ or from one another, but are intimately connected, supporting one another (1 Cor 12:20-26). This is why the Bible tells us not to forsake the assembling together as is the habit of some, but to encourage one another (Heb 10:25).
I remember reading about a letter to the editor in a newspaper many years ago. A man complained that he saw no sense in going to church every Sunday. He wrote, "I have been attending services quite regularly for the past 30 years and during that time I have listened to no less than 3,000 sermons. But, to my consternation, I discover I cannot remember a single one of them. I wonder if a minister's time might be more profitably spent on something else."
That letter sparked many responses. One response from a middle aged man stood out. He wrote, "I have been married for 30 years. During that time I have eaten 32,850 meals, mostly of my wife's cooking. Suddenly I have discovered that I cannot remember the menu of a single meal. However, I received nourishment from every one of them. I have the distinct impression that without them I would have starved to death long ago."
There is a cumulative effect on making a habit of assembling with the brethren. This includes things such as Sunday worship, Bible classes, small groups, serving together, and other non-scheduled times. If a major emphasis of the church assembled is mutual encouragement and edification, then attendance, attentiveness, and participation are of utmost importance.
If being a Christian also means being the church, then a Christian without church is an oxymoron. Being a Christian would be like being a student without school, or being a soldier without a country, of being a citizen without a country, or a sailor without a ship, or a drummer without a drum. A Christian is inherently a part of the church, the people of God.
“Why should I go to church?” This is not the best question to ask. A better question would be, “What does it mean for us to be the church?” Spend time this week reflecting on the answer to this question for yourself.
- John Telgren preachers for the Leavenworth church of Christ in Leavenworth, KS. He may be contacted through the congregation's website at http://www.lcofc.org