April 30, 2012 by gregkey
There is a real issue with Christians today that has been a burden of my heart for some time now as a Youth Pastor. The issue is people who are involved in a church growing up that choose not to stay involved in church once they graduate High School. There are several books written on this, seminars focused on this, and many websites developed to target this. I have already written a blog where I address what I feel is the main factor in all this that we are missing: “Are We Overlooking The Key Ingredient”
This is the second of three blogs I want to use to argue against some of the excuses I hear from people when I talk with them. What’s my purpose for this? 1: If you’re in this category, my hope is that you would read this and give some careful thought to your thinking. 2: If you’re not in this category, my hope is that you would read this and maybe add some “ammo” to your conversations with people in this group.
PART 2: I CAN STILL BE A CHRISTIAN WITHOUT GOING TO CHURCH
Well, that is actually a statement I agree with. The Bible is quite clear that being a Christian is ONLY through our saving relationship with Jesus. “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” -John 14:6 My dad told me when I was a kid that going to church doesn’t make me a Christian anymore than going to Waffle House makes me a Waffle
The reason I cannot agree with this being a legitimate reason for not being involved in a local church is the fact we are not talking about salvation… we are talking about church. Let me ask a few questions that (hopefully) will systematically walk through this:
1: AS “CHRISTIANS” ARE WE FOLLOWERS OF JESUS?
The answer to this questions is YES. Christianity is not about going to Heaven and avoiding hell. Christianity is being saved through the work of Jesus and following Him. The term “Christian” was never used by the early followers. They used “followers” and “disciples”. The term “Christian” actually was used in Acts to make fun of the Jesus followers, to call them “little Christ”.
2: ARE WE CALLED AS HIS FOLLOWERS TO FOLLOW HIS EXAMPLE.
The answer here is also YES. The Bible shares in many places that we are to follow Christ’s example. Jesus Himself says for us to follow His example. “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” -John 15:12 Paul also tells us to follower Jesus’ example. “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 2:5 So…. It’s quite clear that we ARE called to follower Jesus’ example.
3: WAS JESUS INVOLVED IN A LOCAL CHURCH?
We have seen that we are Christ’s followers and called to follow His example. So we need to ask if the local church was important to Jesus. “He went to Nazareth, where He had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day He went into the synagogue, as was HIS CUSTOM. And He stood up to read.” -Luke 4:16 (emphasis mine) Let me ask you a question: Is a custom something you do regularly? Answer: Yes. In Jesus’ day there was only one temple–the main temple in Jerusalem. All Jews would travel to this Temple once a year for the feast of the Passover. But there were synagogues all over the country that were like the local churches– places they could be each week to worship God and hear His Word.
CONCLUSION: Let’s look at this systematically: If we, as “Christians”, are followers of Christ who are called to live like Jesus…. AND the local church was a CUSTOM for Jesus… Then we as His followers should be involved in a local church too.
When we choose to break fellowship with a local church and choose not be involved we are choosing to NOT live like Christ. We are simply telling Jesus that we appreciate His salvation but His example is not as appealing to us.
YES there are some jacked up churches in the states. There were plenty of jacked up churches in Jesus’ day too. BUT there are plenty of healthy churches too. So please, don’t throw the baby out with the bath water and assume all churches are jacked up.
The main things as a Christian is to honor the Lord Jesus with our lives that His examples might been seen to this world. One of those examples IS the local church. So to tell me you can be a Christian without going to church, I say you’re right. But to tell me that it is a legitimate reason to not be involved in a local, I’m sorry but I cannot agree with that. PLEASE reconsider following Jesus’ example and find a local church to be YOUR custom. “… Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word.” -Ephesians 5:25, 26