We don’t have to go to church?

The power of presence in an age of absence

It’s beautiful outside, we’re off for the day, why not spend time with family? Do we really have to go to church every single Sunday? After all, we’re saved by grace, not by how much we attend church services…right?

Growing up

Attending church was our family’s normal activity each Sunday. There were times, however, when we didn’t find ourselves lined in a pew, but those moments were usually reserved for holiday travel, or sickness. And remember, if sick, that also meant we were to stay home from all other activity that day as well. How many times did I hear, “If you’re well enough to go to [insert location], you’re well enough to go to church!”

Fast forward to today

I now have my own family and lead a local assembly. Among believers, the idea of “church” still seems positive, but some things have changed. Many people have gradually adjusted their church attendance from weekly to bi-weekly, or even monthly. Work schedules now include every day of the week. Sunday shopping is now normal activity. And probably the biggest change of all – the church is no longer the centre of the community.[i]

Are we missing anything?

I think we may have misunderstood the concept of “attending church.” We tend to be people of extremes. Traditionally, if we missed a Sunday, it meant we were “back-sliding.” But the truth is – Church attendance is by no means a measure of our salvation or spirituality. You could attend church your whole life, and never experience God’s grace and love. That doesn’t mean, however, that being absent from a local church is wise. A Christian who doesn’t commit themselves to a local church, is missing some key aspects to their spiritual journey.

1.     The Church is made up of believers

The Church is not something we attend, it’s who we are. The local assembly that we call our “home church” is not a separate identity. We, as believers, help make up the Church, and help make up the local assembly. For example, I belong to Bethel Pentecostal Church. On Sunday morning, I don’t attend Bethel, I, along with other believers, make up Bethel. All too often we refer to the local church as a separate identity that we chose to attend, when in reality, the Church is only partially present when we choose to be absent. (1 Corinthians 12)

2.     The Church is a family

Sunday is like a weekly reunion of our spiritual family. We may have so many differences and unique roles, however, we’re united with one thing in common – Jesus Christ. In Christ, we are brothers and sisters and make up the Church family. I think we tend to forget this powerful connection we have to one another. When we choose to be absent, we choose to neglect our spiritual family. (1 Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:28; 1 John 5:1)

3.     The Church is supportive of one another

Each time we meet together as a community of believers, we bring unity to the next level. When we feel pain, we feel pain together. When we experience joy, we experience joy together. Sometimes we need to encourage others. Other times we need to experience some encouragement ourselves. When we choose to be absent, we choose to avoid this powerful relationship. (1 Corinthians 12:26)

What happens if we choose to be present?

I know many have to work, are on shift-work, and otherwise live busy lives, but sometimes we simply choose to be absent. What would happen if we couldn’t wait to come together on Sunday?

  • We would experience…

God’s personal plan for us. Together, with the help of the Church family, we would receive the encouragement we need, the strength we require, and the discipleship that will help us grow.

  • The Church would experience…

God’s unified plan for each other. Church services are never about the numbers, however, God is calling us to be the spiritual family others need. Everyone has different gifts and abilities that work together in strength.

  • We’ll teach those who follow us that the commitment is worth it!

No matter who we are, someone is watching and learning. If we choose to be present, others will learn the commitment to join together on Sunday is completely worth it. Not only will we be able to grow together, but the Church will be alive together.

Final thoughts

No, as Christians, we don’t have to attend Church. But, if we have the day off, why not spend our Sunday with our spiritual family?

Many of our church-related issues and conflicts are founded in our lack of spiritual expectations. Some may even say, “The Church of today is very negative, and not living up to this theoretical post.” The truth is, believers individually make up the Church and we can only ourselves, choose to grow.

God is calling us to rise up and be His Church!

Don’t miss out on becoming the Church and participating within the family of God! After all, one day we’ll all be together for eternity. It might be nice if we actually knew each other.

Your turn

How do you view the Church? How do you individually contribute to the body of Christ?

[i] For a detailed discussion on ccultural and generational shifts: Bradley T. Noel, Pentecostalism, Secularism, and Post Christendom (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2015), 51-84.

Dear Readers:

If ChristianWeek has made a difference in your life, please take a minute and donate to help give voice to stories that inform, encourage and inspire.

Donations of $20 or more will receive a charitable receipt.
Thank you, from Christianweek.

About the author


ChristianWeek Columnist

Andrew lives in Bay Roberts, Newfoundland with his wife, Deidre, and daughter, Rae, where he is the Lead Pastor of Bethel Pentecostal Church. He is a graduate of Memorial University (BBA) and Tyndale Seminary (MTS). His passion is to help people become true disciples of Jesus. andrewholm.com

  • Bernie Draht

    I wholeheartedly agree with the teaching that we must be part of the body of Christ, and that we should be part of a local expression of that body if possible. Heb 10:25Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another… The question I have is where in the bible are we told exactly what this gathering must look like? The body of Christ, the Church, has through the centuries met in many different ways. Small home groups, underground secret meetings, larger gatherings. We have no authority from scripture to dictate that we MUST meet in “Building down the street” with all the regular Church type programs and services. We must however regularly meet, exhorting one another. We must be part of one another’s lives, building each other up, to the glory of God.

    • Yes, you’re right – scripture doesn’t tell us to build big buildings equipped with theater seating and big screens… lol But I think it’s fair to say that the picture we have is strategic and on purpose. It’s also fair to say that there’s leadership involved and accountability. Outside of that, the way a service/gathering looks is up in the air. Good comment. Thanks!