What Church Did Jesus Attend?

churchWhen you drive around on Sunday mornings you will pass numerous churches along the way. At one intersection near me, there are THREE churches on each corner of the intersection. Wow. That’s a lot in one place!

One comedian said that when one of his kids prayed at the table before a meal, he closed with “Ah-men”. His brother argued that it should be “A-men”. This argument went back and forth for several minutes until their father said, “And this is why we have thousands of different denominations today.”

When you read the New Testament about what Jesus did while He was on the earth, you will find that He spent very little time in church and He never started a church of His own. The times He spent in the synagogues, it was mostly to confront the religious leaders of His day. They didn’t like Jesus very much and did everything they could to dispute anything He did. He even did the unthinkable when He had the audacity to heal someone on the sabbath day. How scandalous!

You will find in most of his life that Jesus went to the people. He didn’t sit in a church and wait for people to come to Him. He went to meet people – even the sinners.

Today’s church has it backwards. Too many ministries have built huge buildings to “reach the lost” or “spread the gospel” but they are little in actually doing it. Instead, they are increasing their church bank accounts for them and the people who enter their buildings. This is a travesty. You wouldn’t find Jesus going to any of these churches. He would be in the hospitals healing the sick, helping the homeless on the city streets and comforting those who are in need and nowhere near a church building.

There are some churches who have done more than just go to their buildings. My cousin’s son-in-law had a ministry which would go out to the community on Sunday mornings instead of the traditional church routine. I don’t know if they still do this or not but THAT is how a church should be. I think too many times people are trying to increase their attendance totals for their organization rather than for the Lord. People want to be a part of something that makes a difference. They desire to be involved in something bigger than themselves.

In my last years in the church, I tried to urge my pastor and leaders to think outside of the box and do church differently but they were more concerned about preaching a sermon from the pulpit on Sunday mornings than going out and actually doing something. What happens in that situation is that you get stuck in a rut where you go to church and you leave church in the building until you return the next time. That’s not what it is about. No wonder the church is suffering a decline in attendance.

People don’t want to be accountable. It is easier to attend church at a megachurch with thousands of other people, sing some praise and worship songs projected on a screen and listen to a preacher entertain people with their monologue for 45 minutes. Done. You’ve put a check mark in church attendance for that week. I used to be one of those who couldn’t miss church. I had to be there every time the doors opened. Somehow in my thinking, I must have thought perfect church attendance was a measurement of my relationship and service to God. It was not. Perfect church attendance doesn’t impress God. Loving others impresses Him much more than sitting in your assigned pew on Sunday mornings.

It doesn’t work guilting people into going to church. Offering them more user-friendly Sunday morning services won’t work. Getting people to attend church isn’t equivalent to getting them to commit to Jesus. Church attendance or non-attendance is a less accurate measure of someone’s commitment level or spiritual maturity than we’ve convinced ourselves it is. Sure, gathering with fellow believers matters but with a purpose, not the traditional church mindset.

It’s time to do church different. It’s time to get for churches to actually go out and be the church.

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.