Many people say many different things regarding this issue. Some say you don’t have to go to church because it is all about your personal relationship with God; others say you have to go to church because that is where you learn about God. My attempt with this blog post is to shed some clarity on this issue and see what the Bible actually says about the topic in order to address it biblically.
First, if you are a Christian, it is because God has saved you from the penalty of sin, because you repented of your sins and trusted in what Jesus did on your behalf at the cross. As Christians we must believe that Jesus was born of a virgin, and lived a sinless righteous life. You must also believe that he laid down his life by being tortured and being crucified on a roman cross for the crime he didn’t commit. All this happened because God loved you and chose to pour the wrath that you deserve on Himself. We are also Christians because Jesus rose from the dead on the third day, and we must believe that he physically did so. He appeared to over 500 eye witnesses and it is because of their testimony that we believe what we believe today.
Yes, Christianity is based on having a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. But you cannot have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ and not have a relationship with your spiritual family, the church. The bride of Christ is the church, and it was for the church that Christ died for (Ephesians 5:22-33). When you believed in the Gospel, the Bible says that you were baptized into one body through the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:12-13); but we must not forget, the church is not a place we go to, it is who we are.
The church is the body of Christ, the people of the living God. Wherever the people of God gather, where Christ is worshipped, and where His word is taught, that is where the church is. It can be in a home, a garage, or any storage space, but it all must follow biblical order. This means that there must be Pastor(s) who are called by God, which will oversee the flock and faithfully teach God’s word (Acts 20:20-24; 1 Timothy 3:1-7, 1 Peter 5:1-7). It is in this setting and context in which we are supposed to use the gifts that the Spirit has given us, to serve one another and build each other up.
Lastly, the majority of the New Testament books that we have are letters written to people and churches. These letters provided instruction for the local churches on issues that arose and needed to be addressed. The early church gathered together regularly and on the first day of the week (Sunday) they would break bread (communion), set money aside (offerings), and hear the Word of God that was taught. We see in Acts 2:40-44 how the first believers devoted themselves to the teachings of the apostles and broke bread together regularly. We can also see the exhortation to gather regularly in Hebrews 10:19-25. The reason things like church discipline are mentioned in the scriptures (1 Corinthians 5:1-11) is because we are exhorted to gather together and do life together so that we can hold each other accountable and that way we can grow and become more like Jesus altogether.
"Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 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." (Hebrews 10:19-25 ESV)