Why Go To Church?
Why do we need to go to church? Can we not just worship God in our homes? Do we have to dress up and meet with a group of other people to somehow validate our worship? These questions are sometimes asked by people who want to serve God, but who do not understand the role of the church in Gods plan. Occasionally they have been disillusioned by what they have seen in organized religion and would like to separate themselves from what they perce...ive to be hypocritical or covetous practices.
According to the New Testament scriptures, the church is not a building or some nebulous institution which has authority over Christians. The church can hear and speak (Matthew 18:17); it can fear (Acts 5:11). The church is simply a group of people who have been saved from their sins by the blood of Jesus. Paul reminded the Ephesians elders that the church had been purchased by blood (Acts 20:28). As individual Christians, we have been redeemed, i.e., purchased and liberated, by the precious blood of the unblemished Lamb, Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:7; 1 Peter 1:19). From these scriptures, we see clearly that the church is composed of all those individual Christians who have had their sins washed away (Acts 22:16;Revelation 1:5).
The church is sometimes referred to as the body of Christ. Jesus is identified as the head and Savior of that spiritual body of people, the church (Ephesians 1:22-23; 5:23). The church does not have the power to save anyone from their sins; only Jesus can do that. The church doesnt save; it IS the saved!
When one understands the composition of the church, the question of why one must belong to the Lords church is clearly answered. Those who belong to Christ are members of His body, the church. Who wouldnt want to be a part of that group of people? Indeed, we all need to be members of the Lords church.
All of this is not to say that we can only worship while in the company of other Christians. Surely God will accept worship offered by single individuals, but the Lord also understood the need for mutual support, encouragement and discipline among His disciples. For that reason, disciples in the first century met together in local groups, i.e., congregations, as directed by the apostles of Jesus. The congregation of disciples in Jerusalem met together regularly to remember the Lords death through the Lords Supper and to pray together (Acts 2:41-42). The author of Hebrews encouraged his readers not to do as some of their brethren had done - forsake the practice of assembling with other brethren for the purpose of mutual worship and encouragement (Hebrews 10:24-25).
We need to meet with other Christians in a local congregation (also referred to as a church in the New Testament; see Galatians 1:2 and Revelation 2-3). Together we can worship God and work in His service, submitting to the One who is our Head, Jesus Christ.