One of our beloved viewers recently asked, “Is it a sin to not go to church?” Obviously this viewer is wrestling with that very thing himself or herself. So what does the Bible say about this? Learn more!
Well you may have heard the story about the man how was lying in bed on Sunday morning and his mother came into his bedroom and said, “Son get up, get up, you’re going to be late for church.” And he said, “I’m not going to church today.” She said, “It’s Sunday, it’s Sunday, c’mon get up, get dressed, you need to go to church,” and he said, “I’m not going to church, I don’t like those people, they don’t like me, I just don’t like going there and so I’m not going to go to church today.” She said, “You’ve got to go son, you’ve got to go,” and he said, “Give me one good reason why I’ve got to go to church.” She said, “Well you’re the pastor, that’s why.”
So even pastors have their doubtful days about whether they should go to church I suppose, but if you’re finding you don’t want to go church because you don’t like those people and those people don’t like you, well then there’s something wrong with this equation, right? Right. Now, why do I say that? Because we know we’ve passed from death to life because we love the brethren. That’s how you know, one way you know that you’re born again because you love other people who are born again. So if you don’t like hanging around born again people, that’s not a good indication of where you’re at spiritually.
Now, I know people that quit going to church because they felt like the church where they were going, there was no one there who was truly born again, or maybe the pastor was not being faithful to the Word of God. So there are reasons and they could be legitimate reasons why people stop going to church but they shouldn’t stop looking for a church and if they can’t find one where there really are true believers in Jesus… and how do you know if they’re true believers? If they’re striving to follow and obey Jesus and keep his commandments, that’s how you know and they love each other, then that’s the sign of the real church. Jesus said, “By this shall all men know you’re my disciples if you have love one for another,” right? So it’s a pretty telling sign.
So if you can’t find a church, well then you just need to find some believers who are like you and you can start getting together and I talked recently about how just about any believer could start a simple disciple making church that has all the components where Jesus said, “If two or three are gathered together, I’m in their midst.” Okay, so you can’t be a lone ranger Christian, get that out of your brain permanently and if you’re born again I can’t believe that thought would even be something you entertain.
Okay, now some folks will quote the scripture from Hebrews about, “Do not forsake the assembling together of yourselves,” and that’s in the Bible, right, I mean you can’t debate, it’s in Hebrews chapter 10, that the Bible admonishes us to not neglect the assembling of ourselves. However, with that in mind, let’s do like we often do on Little Lessons, let’s look at context to see if there’s maybe something we’re missing there in what’s really trying to be said by the author who was inspired by the Holy Spirit.
So Hebrews 10:25 says, “Don’t forsake the assembling together ourselves,” you know there’s a verse ahead of that, Hebrews 10:24 that says, “Listen, and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together.” See how could we stimulate one another to love and good deeds without seeing each other, assembling, coming together in some way, right? Right. And then the author of Hebrews, I think it was Paul, sounds like Paul, but who cares, it’s the Holy Spirit, “Not forsaking our own assembling together as is the habit of some,” so you know there’s a little wagging of the finger there, “But encouraging one another and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”
Now he’s not saying encouraging one another to go to church, read the context, it’s the context of we’re supposed to be stimulating one another to love and good deeds and encouraging one another obviously, not just with the good old boy slap on the back saying, “Everything’s going to be all right, you’ll probably get a better job someday or your kids will stop giving you trouble someday and they’ll move out of your house” No, no, no. The spiritual encouragement as we’re all striving to stay on the narrow path that leads to eternal life and we all have a supreme desire to obey God because we love God. It just helps when we come together.
Well I’m a part of a church like that myself, but I don’t have to go to a church building per se because, “Where two or three are gathered in Christ’s name, there Jesus is in the midst of us.” So we are considering how to stimulate one another to love and to good deeds and to encourage one another spiritually, to follow and obey Jesus Christ. I would submit to you, that this scripture, when it’s quoted by pastors in front of congregations, and said, “Do not forsake our own assembling together,” I would submit to you that those pastors need to be a little bit more honest with the text and the context of the text and say, “Well is this happening here? Are people, are the saints, not just me the pastor, the sermon giver, are the saints stimulating one another to love and good deeds and spiritually encouraging one another?”
I would submit to you that that can not happen in the big group setting and to the people of whom the author of Hebrews was writing, they were meeting for the most part in houses, in smaller settings where they were participatory, interactive, Spirit-empowered, Spirit-led, with Spirit manifestations, you know we read about these things in other places in the New Testament, right? Right.
So, I’m not trying to say that there’s no value or there’s no place for the big meeting when the pastor gives the sermon and the worship team does all that and so forth, but having been a part of that for many, many years, a couple of decades and now a part of a smaller church that is just a handful of people, we’re all focused on making disciples and being disciples and making disciples who multiply. Because that’s what Jesus said we’re supposed to be doing.
So we’re coming together and we’re looking back at our week, how did you do in obeying Jesus? How did you do in keeping the commitments you made last week? Now let’s look to God together, let’s interpret the Word of God together because we have brains, God gave us brains, we have Bibles, we can read, we don’t necessarily have to have a pastor give us all the nuances and find some new revelation that isn’t there. We actually ask, what is God trying to say to us? What does he want us to do and change in our lives because of this passage? And there’s lots of passages that are good for that and then we look forward to making commitments, to obey the scripture that we read. So we are encouraging one another, we are stimulating one another. When I hear a testimony of my brothers and sisters who are sharing their faith and the successes and the challenges that they face, it causes me to examine my life.
So thank God many churches are getting the vision to make disciples, you don’t make disciples by giving sermons to big groups, that may be a part of it but you’ve got to get people in small groups and you’ve got to get them talking with one another, that’s the real assembly. Don’t forsake that. So to answer the question, am I sinning if I don’t go to church? It all depends on how you define the church. Yes, you’re sinning if you’re not part of at least a simple Bible church that is focused on following Jesus and being disciples and making disciples. But to say I’m sinning because I don’t go to the big box church, as long as you’re part of “where two or three are gathered,” that’s enough.
All right, hope I see you next time. God bless you.