Why Should You Go to Church?

Post Author: Bill Pratt

I am speaking to the born-again Christian.  Why should you go to church?  Unfortunately, there are many of you out there who have decided that you no longer need to attend church, for whatever reason.  You worship in your home, you read your Bible, you pray, so why do you need to get out of bed on Sunday mornings and go to church?

There are many good reasons for going to church, but I want to talk about one reason in particular.  Here it is: your salvation may stall out, or, at least, fail to mature as quickly.  Yes, your salvation.  I know some of you are screaming, “Once saved, always saved!  Going to church has nothing to do with my salvation!”

You have forgotten that salvation consists of three parts: justification, sanctification, and glorification.  It is true that your justification is a one-time event, but your sanctification is a process that occurs over the remainder of your life.  The New Testament actually spends far more time talking about your sanctification than your justification!

Sanctification is the process by which you cooperate with the Holy Spirit to become more Christ-like.  To become more Christ-like is to obey God’s will, to strive every day, with the Holy Spirit’s help, to do as the Father commands.  If you are a Christian who does not want to do what the Father commands more and more every day, you have completely missed the plain message of the Bible.

So why might your sanctification stall out when you are not in church?  Because you are not hearing God’s commands preached, in person, at all.  How can you follow God’s commands for your life if you never hear them?

Some of you are again arguing with me.  “But I read the Bible, I listen to podcast sermons, I watch preachers on TV.  So, I am hearing God’s will for my life.  I am hearing his commands.”  Yes, that is true.  Doing those things are certainly better than doing nothing, and you certainly sanctify your life by doing those things, but not nearly as effectively and as powerfully as hearing the Word of God preached, in person, face to face.

Why do people pay crazy amounts of money to go see rock concerts, to see comedians perform on-stage, to attend NFL games?  After all, you can hear rock music for free, you can hear comedians for free, and you can watch NFL games for free.  Why pay for these things?  Because attending a live event is so much more powerful an experience.

I have attended a couple of NFL playoff games, and you cannot imagine the electricity in the stadium.  The crowd is cheering, the stands are thundering – you can feel the excitement.  It sticks with you and you don’t forget it.  Why?  Because it’s live!

Like it or not, human beings were designed by God to react more strongly, more powerfully, to other people when they are live and in person.  A powerful sermon will absolutely stick with you for a longer period of time if you hear it in person; it will have a greater impact on your life.  God’s commands will resonate more deeply in your soul when you hear it coming from your pastor standing 40 feet from you than when you see a preacher say the exact same thing on TV.

Nothing can replace the experience of hearing the Word of God in person every week.  I listen to hours of Christian messages in the car every week driving back and forth from work, but when I sit in my seat on Sunday morning and my pastor starts preaching the Word of God, it hits me in the chest like a podcast rarely does.  If you’re laying in bed Sunday mornings, you are robbing yourself of sanctification.  How sad.  Don’t you want to grow?  Don’t you want to hear “Well done, good and faithful servant?”

  • Anthony Ramsey

    I just want to state it’s difficult sometimes to attend a Church as a Christian, only to hear a light topic sermon followed by an altar call for salvation…don’t hear me as narcissistic; I just think the Church should be a gathering for believers to be turned into disciples who go out to witness and bring in new Christians. Not a service where we hope there are some lost people in the crowd who might trip into Jesus this morning. Definitely been something to pray over for me, as I have become bitter towards the Church. =( Thanks for the post!

  • rericsawyer

    Part of my understanding of worship is that in worship, we reflect God’s glory back to him. In our Christian understanding, the triune God is corporate, while still being a unity.

    Full and complete worship would strive to reflect this aspect. Worship at home is incomplete, because it is not corporate. Worship in a church rent by internal divisions is incomplete, because it is not in unity.
    While in this broken world, both states are unavoidable, and must be suffered as such, to accept either without our prayerful, intense and consistant efforts to ammend either is to seek something less (or other) than the fullness of God.

  • Ggodat

    Anthony, many evangelical churches struggle with this and unfortunately many have it all wrong! Matt 28 is about making disciples, not just salvation. This is one of the main reasons why reaching the lost in America is so difficult today. Many of us were granted salvation years ago but were never really discipled or learned what came next. I can promise you will never find the perfect church but keep looking until you find one that is copasetic with your desire to make disciples.

  • Bill

    If salvation is lost by not going to church then im doomed. Work takes me 6 to 7 days a week so it is an impossibility to go with any consistency. It was always my understanding, at least in biblical times the church was a people and not a building to show up in on sunday. People learned by reading the word, speaking the word, and striving to walk like Christ. Ive been to the mega churches who have good messages in between the we need money “talks” and the alter calls (new blog idea; how many false conversions take place with alter calls), not many have hit me in the chest. I know what I believe (in Christ) and I know Im not worthy of his grace or mercy and I know Im a sinner….and now I have to wonder if my salvation is lost

  • Bill,
    I never said you would lose your salvation if you don’t attend church. I did say that your sanctification may stall out, that you may not make much progress toward becoming more Christ-like. I realize that there are good churches and bad churches, good pastors and bad pastors, but our duty is to find a good church where a good pastor faithfully teaches the Word of God. Every sermon may not hit you in the chest, but some of them should. You simply will not grow in your faith very much as long as you avoid hearing God’s Word preached to you, in your face, in person. The idea of the lone Christian is simply foreign to becoming more Christ-like.

  • Sobetruth

    You’re missing the point Bill. Your salvation is not in question here. This is a matter of obedience. (see Hebrews 10:25) Respectfully Bill, if you are working that much on a consistent basis, that may be a problem. I don’t question your motives and assume that you are doing it out of greed, but that is not good. You’re right that the church is not a building, however, individual Christianity is completely foreign to the Bible. Individuals make up the church, so it’s necessary to have people not a building. Biblically, the Christian life is lived out in community. We need each other just like soldiers in the military need each other. The bible talks about spiritual warfare and a isolated Christian is a guaranteed casualty. Finally I encourage you to read the New Testament, particularly the book of acts and see how important community was. Read the epistles and notice how they were addressed to churches. Even the ones addressed to Timothy and Titus were for the purpose of conduct in the church as leaders. Also the Old Testament saints worshipped in community. Please read 1 Corinthians 11-14; all of Ephesians particularly chapter 4:11-16. God bless you Bill.

  • Kevin

    It’s a no brainer as far as the Holy Spirit is concerend. As a rule, truly saved people will want to be and will be in church. Jesus stated/demanded, we will “be faithful unto death”. Certainly that includes being faithful unto at least one day a week. We’ve “watered down” so much what it means to be “saved” people are actually confused about the issue. NObody was unclear after one of Jesus’ sermons which is why most people walked away from them. Saved people don’t wonder about whether Saturday or Sunday is the Lord’s Day. They’d attend both for what they have been forgiven for.Today’s seeker freiendly sermons nauseate God. Let’s see, Jesus couldn’t keep a crowd, but pastor Olsteen can keep 15,000? Yeah right. Going to church is only considered to be part of works salvation by the most biblically illiterate and/or faithless. There is probably no worse time in Amercian history to be guilty of loathing church. Today, you can find an 8:00am service so we can “hurry up and get God out of the way on His day” and luring the goats with cafe lattes and amazingly immodestly dressed for women. I guess adultery among praise team members is at an all time high; It’s the next logical thing to energized flesh.

  • Wil McGilvery

    Persoanally I don’t go to church for the buzz or the show so I am not sure what you are getting at there. My faith is not about “feeling it” – it is about desire to get close to God and sometimes that is getting real quite and really alone to hear that still small voice speak to you. I think you are also missing the point about small groups and home churches. (Not to mention places like China were you can get thrown in prision for going to church) . Lets get out of our North Americian preconceived ideas about “church” and get back to what is really important. You need to surround yourself with like minded believers who will exhort, challange and praise you as you grow in your walk with God.
    I feel you are limiting yourself in this article as it talks about a traditional church setting.
    The one thing I will agree with you is that you can’t go it alone – that is not a good thing under any circumstances.

  • Will,
    I’m afraid you’ve misunderstood my post. I personally italicized the words in person several times to stress that the Christian needs to hear the Word of God proclaimed in person. I don’t care about “buzz” or “shows” at church. I merely mentioned examples of concerts to try and teach the concept that in person is different, is special, is more powerful than on the radio, on TV.

    I am in complete agreement with your statement: “You need to surround yourself with like minded believers who will exhort, challenge and praise you as you grow in your walk with God.” In the US, who is my primary audience, this would be done usually in a traditional church setting. In other parts of the world, I know that the same traditional church setting may not exist, and that’s fine.

    As long as a person is hearing the Word of God explained, in person, I am happy.

  • Your post demonstrates, inadvertently, what is so deplorable about the state of Christianity in North America. It is focused on hearing the word of God almost to the exclusion of doing the word of God. Whether you are in your car or in your pew, your focus reminds me of Ezekiel 33:30-33.

  • Mike,
    I think you may want to read the blog post again. You must have been skimming, because your accusation makes absolutely no sense, given what I said in the post. I await an apology…..

  • Bill,

    Per your request, I went back and re-read your post from the top. I can see why you think you shouldn’t be criticized for emphasizing hearing the word over doing the word. You emphasized doing the word in the first part of the post, and, in retrospect, I wish I’d given that more attention both in my reading and in my comment. My apology to you for that slight.

    Nonetheless, I stand by my point that modern American Christianity is more about hearing God’s word than doing it, and that following the exhortation of your post won’t make things any better. If it would, then the biggest mega-churches with the most dynamic services would produce the most Christ-like disciples. You and I both know this is not true.

  • I agree that hearing is not enough, but staying out of church and not hearing the Word of God preached live is also not the right answer. We must be hearers and doers, as you say. Another way to put this is that hearing the Word is a necessary, but not sufficient condition for becoming more Christ-like. What we hear must be acted upon. Otherwise, what is the point?

    God bless you, Mike.

  • Leaving aside your first sentence, there is not an inch of distance between our respective positions. God bless you, too.

  • Wally

    I am a PK (Preachers Kid)..I made my Living as a Gospel Singer for 30 years..I retired from touring in 2003 and haven’t attended Church Since..Saw too much Politics .. I do Know what the Cross Means in my Life !!!!

  • darrellboan

    Good post Billy. I can’t remember which Church Father it was that said it, but there is a saying that goes along with your post.
    “We are saved as a community, but we go to hell all by ourself.”
    Salvation cannot be lived and worked out all by oneself. We need each other to help refine us. As an Orthodox Christian, we would also add that the Sacramental aspect of Church life plays into this.

  • Kari Heinrichs

    I have two words Kantian Deontology. It’s my duty as a sort of nationalism or obligation like military service. Those are the only answers Christian churches give. Bible says it that finishes it and it usually involves the book of Hebrews which was written to the Jewish people, not intended for the Gentile. The historical context is seldom realized. But as I said Kantian Deontology.