Can You Be A Believer And Not Attend Church?

The answer to this question is not as easy as you would think.  It is a different answer depending on who you are and what you need.  The avid churchgoer would answer this question with a resounding NO and back up their argument with the verse “Forsake not the gathering yourselves together” (Hebrews 10:25) along with other facts to support that answer.  The people who either aren’t regulars or even attend church at all will answer that they don’t need church or some story about how they were hurt by the church. 

So what is the answer?  What do you want the answer to be?  Are you waiting to pounce on my own answer to contradict it to line it up with the answer you want it to be?

Consider this….why is church important if you attend or not so if you don’t attend?

In my own personal experience, I attended church regularly for years.  Yes, I was one of those who some would say “cut their teeth on the church pews” although I always hated that reference.  It would bother me greatly if I ever missed a single church service.  Going to church was engrained into me so much so that going to church seemed to gauge my relationship with God.  Going to church was religious more than relationship.  It even got to the point where I was miserable and often left church feeling worst than when I got there.  

I guess you can figure out my answer.  I do not attend church now.  I will give some of you a moment to gasp and shake your head in disbelief.  

Don’t worry.  I’m okay and my relationship with God is strong.  

If you attend church faithfully I do not discourage it.  Everybody is different.  I’m also not saying that you shouldn’t be going to church.  That’s something between you and God.  Let’s not tune out from this article now and pass judgement on either side.  I have heard the sermons before about not being a spiritual Lone Ranger and how much we need the church.  I understand that completely.  

Some people need to go to the church building and be a part of a bigger group. That’s the way that they stay accountable and encouraged.  There’s no problem with that at all.  The problem is when we use church attendance as a barometer on how close we are to God.  Some act as if God is keeping roll for some heavenly spiritual attendance award.  I know.  I was there and I have done that in the past.  

I will admit to you that not attending requires someone with strong self discipline.  I’m not the model of self discipline but I have been able to maintain my personal relationship with God without attending church.  Certainly, it is hard to keep it up on your own.  When you are basically on your own, you have to do like David did and encourage yourself.  (1 Samuel 30:6). To stay spiritually in synch you have to keep communication open with daily prayer.  When you fail to pray you are setting up for failure.   In this time of technology and social media, there are many things available to help keep you spiritually sharp.  If you need to listen to a sermon, you can subscribe to a podcast or access a library of sermons.  If you need uplifting spiritual music, you have that available too.  If you need to be with a group of believers, you can do that online or meet with people in your life who are also believers.  

Church attendance is important but it isn’t a sin NOT to attend either.  I won’t say that I will never attend church again in the future.  I just don’t foresee myself ever being part of a church at this time in my life.   I grew up as a preacher’s kid and had been a part of the church for most of my life and have seen the good, the bad and a lot of the ugly about church.  Some might say that I am burnt out.  I would disagree with that but people will think what they want to think.  The turning point for me was a week I spent  in a monastery.  It was something that spiritually opened a new world for me.  Instead of the loud, Pentecostal environment I had been a part of, I learned the importance of being quiet and reverence of silence before God.  It was something I needed and gave me a better understanding of God than I had ever had before.   

That’s just me.  I’m not saying it is the same for you.  I know many pastors who genuinely care about people and have churches because they want to help people in their relationship with God.  

So, as you can see, the answer to this question is very objective.  It depends upon your need as a believer.  We all have to work out our own way in this life.  

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