Why Go to Church?
I remember the long religious discussions I used to have with some of my relatives when I was a young Christian. One of the refrains I used to hear is, "Church does not save you." This is a true statement. It was not the church that died for our sins and rose from the grave, but Jesus Christ. Another refrain I used to hear is, "I don't need to go to Church to worship God." This is also a true statement. In John 4, Jesus told the woman at the well that worship would no longer be tied to a place. We offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, which is our spiritual service of worship. So worship is not tied to a place of a time.
When you consider things such as these, then why go to church? Does it serve an integral purpose in the Christian life, or is it optional?
Perhaps the place to start is by defining the word, "church." If we keep in mind that the word "church" is the translation of the Greek word, ekklesia, which simply means, "assembly," it helps to clear up some of the erroneous concepts we have concerning church. In fact, if we translated it "assembly" rather than church, we can immediately see that we are not speaking of a building, a place, or an institution. Rather, we are speaking of a people who have assembled. Truly, the people are the church.
Second, if we remember that the church, or "assembly" is the body of Christ, and that we each have a place and function in the body, this helps us to see how we are connected to each other. 1 Corinthians 12 reminds us that the church is the body of Christ, and that each of us are members of the body and connected to one another. We cannot say, "I have no need of you" to other members of the body, but are to encourage and build one another up.
Third, if we keep in mind the purpose of the assembly, this will help us to see the necessity of assembling. Nowhere in scripture does it say we must come together for the specific purpose of worship. Worship is not tied to a time or place, but is something we do daily, whether we are with other Christians or not. The only explicit purpose the Bible gives for assembling with other Christians is mutual edification. All things are to be done for edification in the assembly (1 Cor 14:26). While it is true you do not need to "go to church" to worship, it is absolutely necessary for you to assemble with Christians in order to build them up. Whether it is through praying together, singing together, reading the word of God together, or saying encouraging words to one another, all of these things are to be for edification. This is why the Bible say we are to "...let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another..." (Heb 10:24-25).
So, the Bible gives some definite reasons why we must "go to church." It is not optional, but is part of who we are as Christians.