What Does the Bible Say About Church Membership and Attendance?

by Jack Wellman on June 1, 2011 · Print Print · Email Email

Does the Bible say that we need to attend church?  Is it okay for a Christian to not attend church?  With so many TV and Internet evangelists, can they replace the local church?  Is the local church irrelevant in this modern day and age?  Is church membership essential to one’s walk in Christ and to a person‘s salvation?

What the Bible Says About Church Membership

The writer of Hebrews clearly says that we are not to forsake the assembling of ourselves as is the manner of some in Hebrews10:25:  “…not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”  In the previous verse (v 24) the writer says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”  Now it would be hard to “spur one another on toward love and good deeds” if we are sitting at home and watching a TV or Internet evangelist. Hebrews 13:17 is an impossible command for the Christian to follow since it says to “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” You can not imitate what you do not see and you can not remember church leaders if you never attend.

Paul’s TeaChurch, Highland Village, Cape Bretonching on the Body of Christ (Church)

Paul writes in Ephesians 4:11-12, “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.”  Again, it is hard to build up the body of Christ if we are alone at home.  If you read the entire New Testament, there is not one single lone-ranger Christian.  You will always see the apostles mentioning the church in general.  The epistles never, ever address single, solitary Christians about their walk in faith.

Paul mentions the gifts of the Spirit in I Corinthians chapter 12 and includes a spirit of wisdom, knowledge, service and so on.  The point is that these gifts are intended for the many different members of the church and if no one attends church they can not use their gifts or the gifts of other Christian’s minister to them.

Safety for the Sheep in the Sheepfold

John 10:11-18 mentions the Parable of the Good Shepherd.  This clearly refers to Jesus Christ who said that He willingly lays down His life for His sheep (v 17).  He did this at Calvary.  The shepherds in Jesus’ time would lie down at the gate and kept the sheep inside the pen, for outside the sheep pen there were ravenous wolves that could kill them.  There is protection only inside the sheepfold.  Sheep are not very smart.  They are completely helpless by themselves. In fact, if one falls on its back, it can not get back and will starve to death while unable to right itself.  Plus the fact if it is on its back, it is easy game for anything.  Sheep have been known to walk right off a cliff.  Sheep are virtually defenseless.  Sheep can not defend themselves. They are not very fast.  But if there is a faithful shepherd, the sheep know his name.  They recognize the voice and will stay near the shepherd.  Jesus Christ is the Head of the church but He has appointed under shepherds to shepherd local flocks.  They are still subject to the Good Shepherd to which the sheep truly belong.  But a sheep outside of the sheepfold is completely helpless and vulnerable.  So too is the renegade Christian who forgoes church attendance.

In I Peter 5:2-4 Peter reiterates the instructions to the pastors (under shepherds), “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.”

The Church is Many Members but One Body

Romans 12:4-5 is evidence that the church consists of many members as Paul says, “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function,  so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”  This shows that we belong to one another.  I Corinthians 12:14-16 reveals that each part of the body of Christ, the church, is made up of several members; “Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.  And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.”

It would be a strange body that had an arm but no foot, or a body that had a hand but no eye.  What a dysfunctional body that would be.  Each member has gifts of the Spirit.  Each of these gifts serves different purposes but as a whole, they make a healthy functioning body that is more effective in being the hands and feet of Christ on the earth.  No single and individual member of a body is effective at home alone. It is useless of itself but when assembled together as a whole, it is able to serve, pray, build up, edify, and exhort other members of the body of Christ.  The eye can not say that it doesn’t need the hand, nor the foot says I have no need for the ear.   I Corinthians 12:27 makes it clear that we are all part of the body of Christ, “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” Each one of us makes up the body but no single body part makes a body.

Jesus gives us the fitting example in John 15:1-8 where he speaks about the vine and the branches: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.  Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.  If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

A branch that is detached from the vine quickly withers and dies and is only good for the burn pile.  If it remains attached to the vine it continues to be fed, nourished, thrive, and most importantly it bears fruit.  Apart from the vine, the branch can not ever produce fruit.  The analogy is that a church member detached from the vine, that is the church that Jesus Christ built, can not grow and produce fruit.  The same thing applies with a part of the body.  A foot detached from the body will die and turn gang green.  It can no long walk on its own and this weakens the entire body.

Under the Church’s Authority

Romans chapter 12 is the most authoritative chapter on how a church should live among the members and under the submission of those who are over the flock.  Paul also addresses those who are in authority in the church in I Thessalonians 5:12-13, “Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other.”  It is impossible to admonish the church leadership if you are sitting at home on the couch watching a TV evangelist or listening to one on the radio or internet.  These leaders include the pastors, the elders, the deacons, and Sunday school teachers.  It is hard to imagine these all appearing in your home for you to admonish and respect them and their office, which is providentially God-ordained.

God has placed each one of us in the body of Christ as it pleases Him and not where we place ourselves.  God says through Paul in I Corinthians 12:18, “But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.”  God did not place these members outside of the body nor did He intend for each member to be in single, individual homes because they can not function properly detached from one another.

The Church Christ Built

Jesus said that He will build His church (Matt. 16:18) and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.  Jesus’ Church was built upon the apostles Peter, John, Paul, and the remaining apostles.  He would not build a church only to have members scatter everywhere to their homes.  If you believe that church membership is optional then you do not understand scripture.  Jesus will come some day and take away the church.  He has a great feast prepared for the church which is described as a bride.  There will be the great marriage feast of the church to the Lamb of God.  He does not marry a single, solitaire member.  The whole church is the bride of Christ.  He marries the church and then they rejoice at the wedding feast and for all eternity.  If you fail to attend a Bible believing church and you are born-again Christian, the Lord may chasten  you and correct you since He chastens every one of His children (Heb. 12:6).  If you are not, find a Bible believing church where the Word of God is taught, where Christ is the center of worship, and where you can become part of the body of Christ.  Then at Christ’s return, you can be with Him forever in eternal joy and fellowship.  I pray that you do.  And if you are a Christian, let this serve as a biblical lesson; you should not be forsaking the assembling of yourselves.  God desires to have you in a church.  He commands it.  So go find one.

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What is the Best Bible Translation?

Where is the Best Place to Start Reading the Bible?

Does The Bible say What the Devil Looks Like?

Sources

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{ 141 comments… read them below or add one }

Jerry Bogart May 4, 2013 at 9:40 am

It’s interesting to note that many times when attending a church that one will face issues with people that are not truly dedicated or serving God the way that the Bible say’s we must do. Many come just to have coffee and donuts. Is this what church is all about. I don’t thing so.

In my walk with God I’ve had to learn not to get my eye’s on anyone and that includes the Pastor. One must remember He or She is a person. People fail us all the time but God never well. This is why it’s important not to get your eyes on people and keep them on God at all times.

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DAVID May 8, 2013 at 11:41 pm

When the supposed church doesn’t embrace Gods word that is the Bible :the book of Jeremiah chapter 8 vs 9 says The wise men are put to shame . They are dismayed and caught : behold they have rejected the word of the Lord and what kind of wisdom do they have. The church needs to devote itself to the Word then the church won’t have trouble with people not attending the Bible and the Lord God are the same there is no difference.Preach the Word and let the Word do the work.

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Mark January 12, 2014 at 3:04 pm

Good point, I agree.

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Helen Villaruel June 18, 2013 at 2:10 am

GOOD DAY! i have read this article from the internet and i would like to know what’s is your opinion about this,

“Filling a church with people means nothing if lives are not transformed.”
In most businesses, success is measured in numbers: amount of profit, number of customers, volume of sales, percent increase in revenue, etc. In the church, it can be easy to slip into the mindset of measuring success by numbers: number of members, amount of donations received, total square footage of the church building, number of regular attenders, etc.
However, God desires that His people adopt a different definition of success. In the church, success should be measured by transformed lives–not big membership, big budgets, or big buildings.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with being a big church; however, a big church doesn’t necessarily mean a successful church. That’s because filling a church with people means nothing if lives are not transformed.
Transformed lives are lives that are on fire for God. In Revelation 3:16, God is talking about that spiritual fervor and fire: 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
Rather than filling a building with lukewarm people — people who play spiritual charades — God desires that His people live transformed lives that worship Him wholeheartedly.
The Israelites lacked the genuine and sincere worship that results from transformed lives. In Isaiah 1:10-15, God rebukes them for their lack of true, heartfelt worship:
10 Hear the word of the LORD, you rulers of Sodom; listen to the instruction of our God, you people of Gomorrah!
11 “The multitude of your sacrifices— what are they to me?” says the LORD.“I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and
lambs and goats. I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.
12 When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? 13 Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations—I cannot bear your worthless assemblies.
14 Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals I hate with all my being. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them.
15 When you spread out your hands in prayer,I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening.
Your hands are full of blood!
The Israelites served God with their lips, but their hearts were far from Him. Similarly, rather than filling a church with people who can feign worship, God desires that His people live transformed lives.
Thank you and GOD BLESS…..

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Susanne RIvera July 1, 2013 at 1:50 pm

I am glad to read this article; it is very good information and helps us understand clearly about the church. Breaking my hearts, some Christians said that they just believe, that is enough, and don’t have to attend the church. Some of them attend church seldomly or sometimes like two or one time monthly. It bothers me to wonder do they will go to heaven and or still are a part of His body? Some people leave church for what they don’t like sisters/brothers in Christ and or pastors, etc. Many of them know God’s word; however, they don’t care or obey..why?? I don’t understand. I keep praying for big revival and want to see all churches be filled by His power before the rapture soon. THanks

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Jack Wellman July 2, 2013 at 3:50 pm

Thank you Mrs. Rivera. I can read Hebrews 10:24-25 that it would be impossible to obey these Scriptures outside of the Body of Christ, the church, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Also if we read Romans chapter 12 and 1 Cor 13, how can we obey these commands too if we are being a “lone ranger” Christian? The New Testament church knows NOTHING of Christians not being in the church. Why some want to be outside of the protection of the Shepfold and out from under the protection of the Great Shepherd baffles me. They should take a serious reading of Matt 7:21-23 and take this heed to warning. Jesus knows which are of His shepfold.

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heather July 4, 2013 at 6:53 am

just because people go to church does not make them a christian. There all kinds of bad people in church including sex offenders that are only there to fool the people around them. I agree that church helps but just because someone goes every week faithfully, doesn’t mean a thing. God knows the hearts of his people if they go to church or not.

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Jack Wellman July 4, 2013 at 10:54 am

True Heather, just because someone goes to church doesn’t make them a Christian but more so, just because someone does not go to church make them a Christian. As I have said before I can read Hebrews 10:24-25 that it would be impossible to obey these Scriptures outside of the Body of Christ, the church, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Also if we read Romans chapter 12 and 1 Cor 13, how can we obey these commands too if we are being a “lone ranger” Christian? The New Testament church knows NOTHING of Christians not being in the church. Why some want to be outside of the protection of the Shepfold and out from under the protection of the Great Shepherd baffles me. They should take a serious reading of Matt 7:21-23 and take this heed to warning. Jesus knows which are of His shepfold.

There are no perfect churches and if you find one, don’t join it…you’ll ruin it, just like I would.

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Rob July 6, 2013 at 11:59 am

your right Jerry i have been attendenting church for over 8 yrs now and i have seen many church goes leave and leaders gone astray i felt like leaving the church myself many times but i never kept my eyes on the people or the pastor even though i see things that are not right and hear things that are not godly but i keep to myself i do what the holy spirit tells me to do and work for the lord if i was working for a man i would want to please the man to keep my job so i want to please god so that i may keep my job as a servant to the lord and to do the work as best as i can don’t get me wrong i have my doubts at times but i have to learn to trust and have faith in him always that i may move forward and not backwards all i know that to serve the lord must come from the heart
(Matt. 20:28)
“just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Serving does not have to be entirely to the chruch but outside the church as well to go and preach the gospel the good news to the lost souls

Matthew 28:19

New International Version (NIV)

19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

And the secret to all of this is not in the church or outside the church its in the heart you have to have love

◄ John 15:13 ►
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

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Deb July 31, 2013 at 12:13 pm

Hello!

I agree with this article save one part – “formal” church membership. I am a Christian, not a Baptist or a Reformed or a Methodist (all of which are in my background)…if we are in the Body of Christ, we ARE members of His church! If Jesus places us in His body, why do I we have to become a “member” of “part” of His body? This point I think is man-made, and none of the Scripture references you give supports having to have “membership” in a local church in order to be in His Body! There is a difference between supporting, attending, being loyal to a local body where we use our gifts to spur one another on and in “signing in to” that particular membership. Also, many churches are becoming apostate and I am not going to support that! We have been in the position of having to leave one church to go to another. Did we leave the Body? No! We are members of the Body if we not only believe in Jesus but do as He did. I wonder which church He was a “member” of… Thoughts?

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Jack Wellman July 31, 2013 at 3:01 pm

Yes, there are many church’s that have turned apostate and the same with Christians but this doesn’t mean that there are no Bible-believing, Christ-centered, Jesus’ glorifying churches out there. There are, I am certain. I have visited many. I must say that “formal” church membership is not what this article is really about but it is more about church attendance which is commanded.

I think many church’s are not following biblical patterns to require membership, that I will give you and yes, you are right, that being a member is no guarantee that the person is actually saved. These verses, yes, do not speak about membership but rather, attendance and so I will give you that.

I wish I had called this article “What Does the Bible Say About Church Attendance” and it would have been better for all concerned. Thank you. You point is very valid Deb.

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Mark August 2, 2013 at 9:35 am

I agree with Deb, and there are many Christians with that opinion, we just don’t sound off very often. The verse that most Christians quote in defense of Sunday morning worship is the one in which they actually were in someone’s home and it was night. In fact, I have read the Bible twice and didn’t see where anyone had a Church building. Should it matter? Not really because we are free in Christ to develop methods of getting things done and I don’t see how God was concerned about when we do it either. But if the things themselves begin getting the glory then they should be cast aside. No one that attends Church in a building on Sunday morning will ever think of it as being about the building, but if someone looks down on someone else for not being in that building on Sunday, then it has indeed become about the building. It is fair to be concerned about someone who never gathers with other Christians as we are commanded, but make sure they aren’t gathering in another way before being concerned. I myself go to a small group on Tuesday nights but don’t want to be part of the man-made Sunday morning. Again, man-made can be good, but not when we start thinking of it as holy.

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Sarah September 12, 2013 at 11:06 am

I have enjoyed this article and found it helpful. However, I am troubled when you say “The analogy (of the vine and the branches) is that a church member detached from the vine, that is the church that Jesus Christ built, can not grow and produce fruit.” But the verse in John 15 is Jesus saying HE is the vine. I don’t think this is an analogy, but a truth – as Jesus is alive, we graft ourselves into him, corporately and individually.

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Gee October 14, 2013 at 10:19 pm

What are your thoughts on Matthew 6:5?

To me this verse shows god is not in favor of group prayer, and it does explicitly mention prayer in the church/synagogue. It even says the people who pray in public have already received their reward, which almost implies they won’t be rewarded with heaven.

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Jack Wellman October 15, 2013 at 9:51 am

Thank you Gee for your comment. I do believe that we should individually pray in private areas so as not to be seen of men but to use this one, single verse and build a belief system around it may not be wise in my opinion. The Bible records that there are several instances in the Old and New Testament where there was prayer collectively or corporately.

For example, in Acts 12:12 – Peter went to the house of Mary where others gathered for prayer.

Acts 1:13-14 – scripture records that all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women.

Old Testament figures also participated in group prayer.

2 Chronicles 6:13-42 – records Solomon praying as all Israel gathered around.

There are also others but just to give you an idea that there is Scriptural support for praying with others AND for praying in your secret place. One verse like Matthew 6:5 does not command us to not pray as a group but deals only with prayer to be seen by others and that this type of prayer to God, singular prayer, should be done in private and not for show. Make sense Gee? I hope it does and thank you sir.

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Mark October 15, 2013 at 2:59 pm

In Matthew 6:5, I picture a man trying to appear more righteous than others, and that was the point of his prayer instead of actually praying in his heart to God. The verses before that mention announcing with a trumpet when giving to the poor so they would be honored by others. The point, instead, should be to show Christ to the poor when giving, and to communicate with God when praying. We are not to perverse these things. I don’t think the verse is condemning when or where we can pray at all, as long as our hearts are in the right place.

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Suma Jayakar January 11, 2014 at 10:10 pm

How would you respond to someone who says, they will go to church every Sunday but they will not become a member. What does God say about this? Thank you.

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Jack Wellman January 12, 2014 at 1:05 pm

Thank you Suma. I guess I would ask if they loved someone deeplhy but didn’t really want to make it legal and get a marriage license and just live together. It shows no commitment and the Bible says that we are “members” of His body, Jesus Christ, and He is the Head of the Church and we are many members unless we are cut off from the Head. This shows me that they are not willing to make a full commitment to the church which means they are not wanting to be fully committed to Christ since it is HIS church.

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Mark January 12, 2014 at 2:54 pm

I would try to be understanding of the person’s reasons; we are all at a different place in our walk. Placing membership is something you won’t find in the Bible anyway. Why? Because they had no Church building in the Bible and the Christians simply meet when and where they could, and there was not yet traditions of man to say otherwise. In fact, the verse most used to make the claim for Sunday morning worship in a building is actually taking place in a home at night. It wasn’t a commandment for the early Christians, the ones in that verse simply happened to meet on the first day of the week, and besides going to the Jewish temple to work on Jews, the only example of a Christian gathering in the Bible was in a home or while traveling together on the road. A few hundred years after the Bible was written Christians began using Church buildings, then all the traditions of man began, and they eventually became rules. I have read the Bible all the way through several times. The best way is audio book because you can go super fast. This gives you a better understanding of what happens time-line wise. I challenge you to actually read the Bible, not one verse per day but fast. Say, half a year. Remember to always pray before you read that the Lord reveal his word to you, and for him to remove all wordly motivations that we all otherwise have. Like say, wanting a verse to mean what we want it to mean before we even begin. How sad that most Christians never do this before opening the word of God. If you do, you might be taking aback by what you find; of how real it is, and by how sad it is that Christianity as a whole has turned in into “going to Church”, which simply never happened in the time of the word of God.

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Sergio January 16, 2014 at 3:11 am

Hello Mark, God bless you!! I have read through several of the responses to this article and I must say that yours is on point with what the Holy Scriptures (the Living Word) teaches. I too have attended several buildings, and have been a faithful “member” of a particular denomination. However, if someone would truly study the Word with the Holy Spirit’s guidance as you have pointed out instead of sticking with what we have been taught by men, that person should end up with the same conclusions as you. That is that the early church (the word church refers to born again believers, not a building) assembled together in homes, not specified denominational buildings called ‘church’. Thus, the church is the body of Christ not buildings, and Christ is the head of the church, the Good Shepherd. Therefore, we can fulfill Hebrews 10 24 and 25 by following the example of the early church (body of believers) by assembling house to house (read the book of Acts). Now in reference to leadership of assemblies of Christians who will gather together, the Bible teaches about Elders (which also means Overseer or Bishop) (see Titus 1, 1 Timothy 4 and 2 Timothy 1). Now I must say that God’s design of leadership among an assembly is pluralistic not a single head. God’s design is not a pyramid structure with one man at the top, instead the leaders will be servants to those they lead. In fact, Jesus said that those who desire to be great in His Kingdom must become servants. In most denominational church buildings there is usually one person called a pastor leading everyone else, and most of the time that person is not serving the people, but instead he expects to be served by the people. Moreover, where in the Bible teaches that pastor should be the leader of an assembly? It teaches that Elders should be. In Ephesians 4 v 11 & 12 the Bible teaches about the Lord giving certain people what we call “equipping” gifts, namely, apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. Note that these were gifts, not positions or titles. Now the purpose of those who have these gifts were to help perfect the saints (or the born again believers) for the work of the ministry and for the edifying of the body of Christ (the body of Christ or born again believers). Finally, due to my time constraints, I will have to leave now, but I hope to add to this post on another day, God’s willing. God bless you Mark, Jack (the author of the article) and others in this forum as we seek to please God according to His teachings instead of the teachings of men, and the rudiments of traditions.

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Mark January 16, 2014 at 10:54 am

Thanks Sergio, I agree with your points as well. I knew there were others out there with the same thoughts about this, but they are hard to find. Someone like that doesn’t usually speak up because our families and friends don’t really want to think about it. They would rather we coast along with everyone else and not rock the boat. But, this is about following the Lord.

For so many of us, the word “worship” is always pictured as a Sunday morning church service. People even consider “different types of worship” for Sunday morning, Wednesday night, or small group at a house, etc. These different types of worship are dictated by time and location, which for some reason determine what we’re allowed to do during that time of worship. No, brothers and sisters, there is only one worship, and it nothing to do with location, environment, or time of day. I wish Christ’s body would stop trying so hard to figure out what we’re “authorized” to do and realize that we are free in Christ. Christians wonder “how” we’re supposed to worship and what we’re “authorized” to do. Where is it written that if something isn’t covered by the Bible then we can’t do it? That’s the mindset of someone thinking about worship only in the building. The opposite is true in Christ. If a rule isn’t presented by God, then there is no rule! The only rules are written on our hearts when we are born again! Of course, there are things we should and should not do, but those things come naturally to the body and are easy to understand. Everything else is freedom to serve as we can, and this is how the Christians in the Bible were. It’s nice to finally be free of man and just love; our God, each other and the lost.

But if all that is true, doesn’t it mean that we are free to have a building? Yes. Of course we “can” use a building and meet on Sunday morning. But if something becomes more of a problem than a worthy method, we should let it go as a hindrance. It has become about the building. All Christians will tell you that it’s not about the building for them, but they are in error if they feel others are not saved if they don’t go to church; if you feel that way then for you, it HAS become about the building. The church building isn’t required for salvation or for worship! That in itself is reason enough to step away from it. But if that wasn’t enough, most of our in-fighting exists because of the building, and also the world sees sins of some people on Saturday nights that then attend Sunday worship. They think this thing of ours must then only be about the rituals themselves. That’s preventing us from reaching the lost.

Think of any question you may have concerning worship, then imagine that there is no church building and see how the verses change. “Women should be silent” in the church is an example. With no formal worship in a building, what does it now mean? Or, when we think of the Lord’s supper as a full meal with real wine (such as the only example in the Bible), people say “but you can’t do that with all those people there in the building”. Exactly. Somehow eating a passover meal together has become eating a tiny corner of cracker that is not soaked in healthy olive oil with a tiny portion of sugar-filled grape juice. This is an example of how it’s all become about the building. We all say it’s not about the building, but look at how we’ve changed this beautiful, relaxing, wonderful fellowship called the Lord’s supper. It’s nothing short of mind boggling that the more obsessed a Christian becomes about finding out what we’re “authorized” to do (in the building), the farther away our practices get from anything that actually happened in the Bible.

We were meant to walk with the Lord and show people his love, and we were meant to gather together to eat and be merry and encourage each other. We we meant to help others that have been gifted and have ideas of how to serve people and reach the lost. It’s that simple; we are free to use whatever instructions were put in our hearts to do these things.

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Maureen November 2, 2014 at 8:28 am

Thank You Mark and Sergio for taking the time to write. Every word is the truth, and I pray that others reading this article will find their way to your comment.

Many Blessings!!

Larry February 16, 2014 at 6:22 pm

your article on membership and attendance only talks about attendance.To me there is a difference between attending a church and signing papers to become a member of a church. I was looking for do you have to be a member of a church to go to heaven when I found your article. I don’t see where you address membership verses attending. Your article is very good for those looking why we need to attend church. Can you answer my question on membership, and please don’t answer yes or no. Sincerely Larry

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Jack Wellman February 16, 2014 at 10:07 pm

Great point Larry…no, it was more about attendance than it was membership. Many people are shut ins and some in parts of Africa, Middle East, etc, cannot attend so that doesn’t mean that they won’t be saved just because they are not a member of a local church but as for signing papers to become a member…I never did sign papers. the church accepted me as their pastor, the elders laid hands on me and voted me in. Others who want to join the church must go thru the same thing…and be baptized too if they haven’t been baptized (by submersion) already. We don’t require signatures but verbal confessions of their beliefs and then the church votes to accept them as members and I think it is important to be a member and not just attend. Thanks Larry. Did this answer satisfy you sir?

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Josi July 20, 2014 at 11:36 pm

I am torn on the subject of attendance as I also am as for membership as well. I have been earnestly searching for a church home for years and have become increasingly discouraged. Many churches are full of prejudices, false teaching, leadership oppression over their flock, mishandling of Gods offerings and gifts and a score of bureaucratic red tape that is never ending, as we should be more concerned about the lost then about voting issues. The Modern Day Organizational, Congregational, Corporate Church Worship Style of Today is not led by Jesus Christ or what Jesus had in mind all along. It is rooted in Culture and Catered to the World to boost attendance to put a body in a chair and money in the plate. Would Jesus approve of a 501(c)(3)…Not in His Temple. People from within the church keep criticizing people who leave but do they ever consider the circumstances and reasons surrounding their choice to leave? Carefully look over the List I’ve left above. Instead of resigning it to…”they went out from us”…Leaders from within the flock should give close consideration as to why the sheep leave in the first place. How about poor handlers. The wolves are already inside the gate/church. All i see today are churches so willing to bend over backwards to appease the “Seeker Sensitive” crowds that they forfeit the sheep eager to stay, serve and commit themselves. Also, many Leaders and Elders are so willing to please the visitor and are careful what they choose to teach and preach so as to not offend anyone and sadly at the expense of our Lord Jesus and His written truths. So in essence, it’s the churches fault there are so many scattered among you and going it alone as a solo/renegade who no doubt desires to suffer in silence and isolation, I think not my dear Brothers and Sisters as this is a much bigger issue not being properly expounded on or given to proper priority. It’s ignored or cheapened by suggesting “The Christian” was really a believer b/c they left. So Sad how so many are misunderstood but still loving their Lord Jesus. A message from the Holy Scripture that has Not Been added to or taken away is a rarity. Messages today are short stories with humor attached not sermons read from the good book with fervor anymore with the Holy Spirit prompting and leading. They are short and sweet, not long and meaty b/c we have to get home to watch the NFL or meet at Ryan’s Steak House…It’s more entertainment and music and video and bulletin announcements and social cliques and gatherings then anything Jesus intends it to be, just start reading your bible. I’ve learned more away from the church in quiet study myself then most sermons I’ve heard from highly paid highly esteemed Pastors in our Mega Churches today…Jesus has left the building.

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Mark July 21, 2014 at 9:59 am

Josi, I’m a believer and I know what you’re going through and you’re not alone. I have believing friends that I get together with that also believe the same things. About not attending services you said “many are misunderstood but still loving their Lord Jesus.” I agree. Unfortunately most Christians assume if you don’t “go to Church” you’re not saved. But not once in the Bible do believers attend service in a special building at all, to say nothing of a commandment to do so. We are simply told to gather. In the same way many Christians think they are supposed to “take communion” every Sunday, even though Jesus established the Lord’s supper during an annual event and it was a full meal. Having a special building and attending on special days are both very Jewish things to do. That’s what Paul was trying to tell the Jewish believers about not having to observe special days. Those that think we are commanded to worship on the first day of the week (as a special day) are also ones that Paul is talking to. In Acts 20 there is a particular group that just happened to meet on the first day of the week at night in a home. Examples are not commandments, even though some Christians think so. Many of the examples we have were corrected by Apostles or Jesus. If Acts 20 was a commandment, the commandment would be to meet in a home, at night, on the first day of the week, and the speaker must preach until midnight then break bread on his own because everyone else has already eaten (just a meal, not “communion”). We are supposed to gather to stir up and encourage each other, then we go back into the world to save the lost, not gather in a place where the world can come to us. The way I see it, we should simply get together with Christian friends whenever we can and encourage each other with problems, some of those being obstacles in showing Christ to people, then make a plan to give to the poor or witness to someone. That’s going to Church.

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Jack Wellman July 21, 2014 at 10:51 am

Josi and Mark. Then are you saying that it is wrong for believers to assemble together to worship? You love God and He is your Father but you don’t love God’s children very much in the churches then? Which of you do not sin. The church is new a “Jewish thing.” Where do you get that? I am supposing that you both are saying that church is not needed anymore? The people are the church yet they assemble together since homes do not have sufficient room. How can the believer live out Romans 12 and 1 cor 13 by a few believers in a home? What about pastors, teachers, elders, as established by the church? They are not needed anymore?

In I Peter 5:2-4 Peter reiterates the instructions to the pastors (under shepherds), “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.” Was this for only that age? If so, what other Scriptures were just for that age?

“esus said that “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” (Matt. 16:18) but the gates of hell have rendered it obsolete? Hebrews 10:24-25 that it would be impossible to obey these Scriptures outside of the Body of Christ, the church, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Also if we read Romans chapter 12 and 1 Cor 13, how can we obey these commands too if we are being a “lone ranger” Christian? The New Testament church knows NOTHING of Christians not being in the church. Why some want to be outside of the protection of the Shepfold and out from under the protection of the Great Shepherd baffles me. They should take a serious reading of Matt 7:21-23 and take this heed to warning. Jesus knows which are of His shepfold.

There are many solid, biblically centered churches so I hope you are not saying that church is not needed anymore, contrary to what Jesus said. Its fine if you want to have a church home but you cannot say that church is outdated just because of the society we live in and it was never called a “Jewish thing”, I’m sorry, that is not scriptural. Please don’t put down others who meet together and have a children’s ministry, a homeless ministry, have an Outreach, go door to door, and such other evangelistic things. Thank you both.

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Mark July 21, 2014 at 1:44 pm

Jack, thanks for being a great host even though we’re saying something that maybe seems threatening. Please understand above all else that I appreciate the efforts of believers that go to a Church building every Sunday. If their heart belongs to the Lord and they go to serve the Lord then they are beautiful to me. I just believe there is a better way. I believe that the original Way of the Lord was done without a Church building, and perhaps the best way to live in Christ is by now removing it.

Just hear me out. Have you ever thought how perspective for even approaching the Bible could change when you remove the building? Take the verse “women should remain silent in the Church.” Imagine for a moment that the building never had come along and Church has always meant something without one. Now think on that verse again. It changed didn’t it? As does the need for authority for this thing or not that thing in worship. Now remove the building. Didn’t it change as well? This is the way it was with Jesus and the apostles; a perspective without the building or the traditions that we now hold as almost rules, yet aren’t. We as the Church have gotten so wrapped up in that building that we wouldn’t know how to be Christians without it, as is the case for for you apparently, since you can’t picture what pastors and teachers could possibly do without one, or how we’d do our work without a crowd sitting in pews. Could you really not follow your calling from the Lord without a building?

I know in your heart of hearts you think what I’m saying is unscriptural because I’m close to Christians with your opinion. They can’t imagine my perspective forming without me trying to change scripture because I want to make it something fun and want to sleep in on Sundays. But actually, each time before I study the Word I pray that the Lord remove worldly motivations like going in to defend a pre-decided opinion, because without that prayer I know I would do it. I’m then able to give myself fully when I study, and no matter what is revealed I follow; no matter what, even if it’s the opposite of before. More than once I’m changed my mind on serious subjects and twice I’ve even shook with fear because it felt like my core was questioned. But then I realized…God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit still exist, I’m still saved, only now I’m more free in Christ and not following traditions of man. I honestly see something different when I read the Bible, and we obviously see many verses differently. I see a New Covenant world where there was no Church building and it all worked, and I now see Acts 20 as not a command for a set time of worship, not because that’s what I want, but because it’s what I see. If it’s a mistake, it’s a mistake made while walking with the Lord.

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Josi July 21, 2014 at 2:25 pm

I am saying the quality has diminished, I never once said I did not Love the Brethren … I Love them madly deeply truly much with an unrequited as I will offer one last morsel of something to consider … Love ? Where is your heart Love … These are your words not mine and it is you Sir who are suggesting I am Loveless … It’s more of an issue of Heartbroken over the state of our current churches. It’s a “Partnership” not a “Membership” to a club … we have come away from our first Love to doctrines and rituals of Men…Mark, I stand in agreement to everything you mentioned and You are in my daily thought and prayer…Josi

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Josi July 21, 2014 at 5:14 pm

To Mark and Jack:
This article really made my heart soar … I thought it would be appropriate for the content we’ve been discussing and hopefully bring some Love and Encouragement for those facing rejection from within the Body of Christ, or feeling isolated or trapped in isolation for whatever reason. For me, it’s reasons stated above but also reason’s due in part to my physical challenges as I am suffering from blood cancer and a host of other malady’s but many don’t know that so when I don’t show up for Church they wonder why… and it’s mostly b/c I am not feeling well enough to attend and not the obvious. Naturally, the majority think I have backslidden so it raises a level of doubt and suspicions in the minds of those Brothers and Sisters who don’t know me or know the facts. They begin to question if I am truly a believer and am I truly converted/saved. Sadly, this is how scripture is misconstrued, planted into our minds and how it is formed into presumptions ultimately spreading condemnation while being fed to so many within the body of Christ altering our views of one another by so many attempting to lead their way instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to move in and through the meeting, being deliberate and engaged in the pursuit to shaping the “ministry of the body of Christ” promoting spontaneity by allowing God to move in and thru and to have his way in how we Worship Him, instead of Man getting theirs, which if they did would be resulting in so many returning to the “99” instead of suffering in silence, not really knowing the real reason some sheep never find their way back to the flock. Shepherd’s are not going after the one’s that go away bc it would be my guess they are planning social functions and might be to engrossed in the “Bldg and It’s Many Upkeeps”… It’s become a “tut tut, oh well” attitude. So, that being said, I will add it here if that is okay with you, Jack so others may be encouraged and prayed for, BTW Jack, I just wanted to point out that nobody comes and knocks on my door to minister to me from my church. Several know of my hardships and challenges. This is where attitudes are being unjustly formed creating division within the Body of Christ…Blessings, In Jesus Name

http://www.christian-truth-ministry.com/isolated_christians.htm

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Jack Wellman July 21, 2014 at 5:46 pm

Josi, this is so good my friend. I could never know the human heart but only God can. For someone who can’t go to worship, they must have alternatives. We had a former member who went to the nursing home so I started a Bible study there and found myself going back time and again to other residents and shared the gospel. For those who can’t go to a church, we go to them (at least I do). This member finally is now in Hospice, near death, & in the last week I went to see her 3 times. None of her “Christian” neighbors did, just 2 members of her family have, no friends of hers did…but I am a bi-vocational pastor but I still must find time to go to that one who can’t assemble together so I go to them. I also go door to door, not to invite them to my church, but to tell lost people of the wrath of God on them (John 3:36) and that God can have that wrath removed and placed on Christ (2 Cor 5:21) so they can have peace with God (Rom 5:1). I don’t care where they go to church or if they go at all…but only that they know Jesus Christ as Savior or Jesus Christ as their Judge (Rev 20:11-15). I do agree that many of the churches (not all) are a Laodicean –type…lukewarm, and only are interested in getting into holy huddles, sitting as pew potatoes, and not “GOing!” into the world to help rescue the perishing.

If I see someone gone for a time, I call them, if they want, I will go visit them, ask about them, are they okay? Can I pray with them and for them? Are they backslidden? I can’t say that. Only God knows their heart. I do see the problems with churches today Josi but not all of them are like that…too many are, yes, but I have tried to be a shepherd and lead by example. A shepherd lead the flock to still waters, he never forces the sheep to go anywhere but leads them (e.g. Psalm 32, even though this is about Christ, I being the under-shepherd to the Great Shepherd try to follow His example). We have no “social functions” but we simply do these things: visits to the nursing home, hand out gospel tracts in the streets, visit the sick, the elderly, the widows, the orphans (single mothers), give clothing out to the poor, and so forth.

My point is that not all churches are Laodicean-like. Many are doing great works for Christ, being His hands and feet, pooling our time, out money, our talents, and I even write letters to prisoners when these men’s former Christian friends won’t even return their letters. Their neighbors who call themselves Chrsitian do not do nearly any of these things on their own. They don’t write their former neighbors, or visit them in the nursing home or when they are sick visiting them. Jesus said this is what He servants are to be doing when they come: (Matt 25:31-46)

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

That is what many churches are doing…and I am trying singlehandedly to do these things for if we do it for them, we actually do it for Christ. I have not seen one of their former neighbors or friends or family members (calling themselves Christians who don’t “like” church) ever come to see them once in the hospital, ever, ONCE, or in the nursing home, or in the prisons….see why we do need the church? Does this make sense?

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Josi July 21, 2014 at 9:10 pm

Jack, you sound like a Man who has a heart for God. Yes, I do see why the Church is central and needed but for most of them, Jesus is on the outside knocking wanting to come in. And His precious Sheep are still scattered and bruised and more then anything needing Love is a harsh torn and reeds marshy driven society and culture far from God and fueled by self-admiration position and glorification. This is why Mark and Me agree with the overhaul of the church. Many, I believe are motivated by fear of losing their position and power from within the bldg and body of the assembly…two things Church should never be about..It is about the Lost and dislocated, the broken and hurting, the bruised and bewildered, the untaught and unchurched, the isolated and confused, the rejected longing to belong, the hungry and the hopeless…Are we, in the Church, being the hands and feet of Jesus…? Try to have an open mind and open heart to the things Man has introduced that God had no intention of allowing in House of Worship,…and instead focus on the needful things that scattered sheep like Mark and I have clued in in on, search and seek them out, ones who are crying alone in the dark, broken and afraid and alone…You are such an important tool in searching out the these little ones who’ve been outcast, broken and spiritually hurt and abused from within the church….In Jesus Name

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Jack Wellman July 21, 2014 at 9:18 pm

Thank you Josi but we both know that God receives the glory for anything that I do for if it were not for the Holy Spirit, any good that I could do would be done only for selfish, human reasons, and strictly motivated only for what is best for me to who cares about anyone else. This was me before conversion. I hope God can use a tool…but keep in mind, as I know you must realize, a tool is useless unless the Hand of God empowers it, otherwise it rusts and decays and is only good to be tossed in the trash. My point is that God alone is worthy of anything good that we could ever do. In our services, we have a loose format, don’t stick to a regular pattern, try to get out of routines, try to be spontaneous and for example, I come prepared with 3 or 4 sermons and don’t know what I will actually give until I am finally standing on the floor (I don’t use the pulpit nor ever get on the stage because the foot of the cross is level ground and I am no better than anyone there our outside of our doors.)

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Polly Maher August 13, 2014 at 2:58 pm

I love this article. It’s sad when some believers don’t commit to serving in the local bible believing church. And most of the excuses I hear and read are weak. Jack your replies were very encouraging. Church membership and attendance is very important and it is also a privilege !!
Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it.” -KJV. Acts 20:28, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” If we claim to be followers of Jesus then we should take HIS body (The Church) seriously. I’m blessed with a bible believing church (we are not perfect….YET… we will be in Heaven) , we are having our church constituted this year and I will joyfully take the privilege of signing up for membership. Good churches are hard to find but I believe God is faithful to his people and He will provide a church for anyone who sincerely desires to walk in obedience and grow in christian maturity. Before we point the finger at pastors or church attendees we should first check our own attitudes. If our attitudes about church don’t align with God’s attitude about the church (which we can find in the bible), then WE need to change our attitude about church commitment.

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Jack Wellman August 13, 2014 at 6:36 pm

Thank you Mrs. Maher. If you read the comments, you will see that many disagree with this article. They think that we don’t need a church but the fact is that Jesus said that He would build His church and the gates of hades (death) would not prevail or stop it so it is a mystery to me why people think that they can live the Christian life as a solo act. Was Jesus wrong? Did He fail? Not possible. It’s like say, I love God but I can’t stand being around His children. How can we live out Romans 12 and 1 Cor 13 by being a lone ranger Christian? Truly, since Jesus is the Head of the church, why be detached from His Body? And He is the Chief Shepherd so why be outside of the door where the Shepherd watches over His flock when ravenous wolves seek to devour the lone sheep that? Acts 20 is spot on!

We are given an IMPERATIVE commanded in Hebrews 10:23-25 “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hard to encourage the church members if you are not there by neglecting to meet “TOGETHER” and how to stir one another to love and good works if you are a lone ranger Christian. How many of these solitary Christians have a children’s committee, have an Outreach into the nursing homes and hospitals, do door to door or street witnessing? Jesus said follow me, not follow your own way. If we are to follow Jesus we must be in His church and as He said “Follow me” He said then “Go into all the world” to preach the gospel. Your comment is so encouraging in a day that church membership, like the Laodicean church that once existed, began to not assemble together and then vanished into thin air.

You wrote ” If our attitudes about church don’t align with God’s attitude about the church (which we can find in the bible), then WE need to change our attitude about church commitment.” Wow…spot on! Thank you and I thank God for you Mrs. Maher. I am a bi-vocational (working) pastor so I obviously don’t do it for the money but for His glory.

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Mark August 15, 2014 at 5:23 pm

Well, I still disagree and think we should gather, but without designating a special building. But, as probably the most vocal from that camp so far, I’ll say this: the most important aspect of any person of God is showing the mercy and love of Jesus to those in need. And you, Jack, seem to be one of those good men of God that is out there doing the work. I know He is saying “well done, Jack.” God bless.

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Jack Wellman August 15, 2014 at 6:20 pm

Thanks Mark. The group we meet with for worship won’t fit in a home because there are far too many of us to fit into one place but I see you are still focusing on Christ and that is the most important thing my brother. Amen and may God richly bless you. Amen to your statement that showing Christ’s mercy and we need to certainly tell the lost that they need to repent of their sins, confess them, and place their trust in Christ…and certainly not a building. To that I do agree my brother. Thanks Mark.

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Krystle September 29, 2014 at 8:50 am

How can you encourage other Christians by going to church 3 times a week for an hour each while only one man speaks the whole time?

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Jack Wellman September 29, 2014 at 8:55 am

Thank you Krystle. Pray for them, be the first one to speak up. Be the Barnabas in this church. They sound a little like the Valley of Dry Bones that Ezekiel wrote about but God can breathe into them life by His Spirit. We do not go to church or don’t go to church based upon the way other people are but based upon obedience to Christ as He is the Head of the Church.

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