A general statement you will hear regarding going to church is, "I don't need a church to have a relationship with God."
What is at the heart of this controversial remark? While one can indeed "have a relationship" of some kind with God without attending a church, will they ever fully experience His presence here on earth without the local church body God has provided? Will they be able to glorify God as He calls without it? The answer to these questions is no.
The misunderstanding about the necessity of the church is rooted in a basic definition of what the church is meant to be. We all know that the local church is a gathering of believers united to worship God and walk this Christian life together. Unfortunately, one's experience with a particular church group, building, or denomination may have tainted their view. Also, many may have never been educated on the purpose of the local church, so they lack the insight to see the deeper reasons for attending.
As Christians, maintaining close relational and community connections with other believers is vital to our membership in the family of God. So how do we know this is true? Scripture declares it!
"Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching." - Hebrews 10:25
Without a church, living out much of what is written in Scripture would be impossible.
1. Scripture is the guide for Christians
We cannot disregard the divine calls to meet together, confess our faults, and commit ourselves to the teaching and fellowship in the Bible.
We know from the Word of God that He never intended our lives to be in solitude. He quickly created a partner for Adam; since then, mankind has thrived best within communities of faith. It is the natural order of things.
Statistically, people who attend church regularly are happier, more generous, more satisfied, and even healthier.
2. We were created to grow with other believers
A church is necessary for living out our Christian lives, strengthening our faith, and forming a deeper relationship with God. Part of this is adherence to Scripture's explicit declaration to gather in worship and fellowship.
3. The idea of church attendance may trip people up
We see church as an obligation, but the church is so much more than that. When believers fail to attend church regularly, they deprive the local church body of their individual spiritual gifts and characteristics that God has supplied them with to serve and honor Him. The Bible says that individual Christians are vital to "one body."
"For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ." - 1 Corinthians 12:12
Each one of us has a different function that we fill in the church.
"For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:" - Romans 12:4
We are fellow citizens with other believers. We belong together in service to one another. This is impossible unless we are with others in God's house.
"Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;" - Ephesians 2:19
4. The local church is not complete without every Christian participating
Attending church is not just showing up on Sundays for one hour. Instead, it is a deliberate commitment to other believers throughout the week. Being part of a church allows you to meet together, pray for each other, help one another, and help become more like Christ through those relationships.
If "going to church" is just a required act of "legalism," you will not encounter what God desires when He calls you there. When you understand the purpose of engaging in a church and your responsibility to others as a member, you will realize that church is no longer about you. It's about God. It's about others. It's about living out the best God has for us here on earth.
If we want to grow nearer to God, the best place we can be is at His church.