I don’t go to church to worship Jesus.
Hear me out. It’s not as bad as it sounds.
Anyone can worship Jesus anywhere, at any time.
We don’t need a special building, a special day or a special time to do it. We don’t come into the presence of God when we enter a church building and we don’t leave his presence when the service is over.
Since the Day of Pentecost, all believers have the Holy Spirit living in us from the moment of salvation, so we carry his presence with us. This means that every act of our lives, whether alone or in the company of others, can and should be an act of worship.
I still go to church every weekend – several times a week, actually. And I would go that regularly even if I wasn’t a pastor.
I don’t go to church to worship Jesus. I go to church to worship Jesus with other people. Because I need to worship Jesus in the company of others. We all do.
I need to worship Jesus along with
- People I know
- People I don’t know
- People who know me
- People I share life with
- People I share common beliefs with
- People I disagree with
- People who love me anyway
- People I have to love anyway
Church Is Not a Solo Sport
It’s increasingly common to hear from long-time, Jesus-loving believers that they don’t go to church as often as they used to. Some have quit completely, saying that the church has been more harmful to their spiritual health than helpful to it. I understand and sympathize with those feelings. At times I’ve even shared them. But I’ve come to the opposite conclusion.
I’ve discovered that the more I grow in Christ, the more I need the church – and the more they need me.
I don’t always like the fact that I need others so much. To tell the truth, I don’t always like them. And they don’t always like me. But we do need each other.
There are times I wish “all I need is me and Jesus” was true. But it’s not. It never is.
It’s not church when I’m alone. No matter how special or holy the moment may be with just me and Jesus – and I have plenty of them – it’s not church unless there’s at least one other believer experiencing it with me. The together part of church is not just a helpful habit, it’s an essential part of spiritual health and maturity.
Yes, I know that going to a church service is no guarantee that a real church experience will actually happen. But I do know this – not going to church guarantees that this vital element of our spiritual life will not happen.
The body of Christ can’t be a body if we’re not meeting, worshiping and ministering together.
It doesn’t matter if we meet in a church building, a house or a coffee shop. But it does matter that we meet to worship Jesus together.
None of us is strong enough to do this on our own. That’s why, when the early church worshiped and ministered, the smallest unit they ever had was two people. Usually more.
Over two decades ago, Thomas Peters, who wrote the ground-breaking business book, In Search of Excellence, told business executives about the importance of flesh-and-blood meetings when he advised them to “fly across the country for a five-minute meeting.”
The reason? Being face-to-face matters. If it’s true in business, it’s even more true in church.
There are aspects of how we relate to each other and how we relate to God together that can only happen when I see your face, hug your neck and take notice of the subtle crack in your voice as you try not to cry when I ask how your kids are doing.
There are too many lone wolf Christians and lone wolf pastors out there.
This isn’t healthy, helpful or biblical.
We need Jesus. We need the church. We need each other.
Copyright © 2018 by the author or Christianity Today.
Click here to read our guidelines concerning reprint permissions.