If you have heard it once, you have heard it a thousand times... “I don’t need to go to church. I can worship God just as well in my own backyard, or in the woods, or in my office...” or wherever it is the person thinks is just as good as going to church.
I will readily admit that some of the most wonderful worship experiences I have ever had with the Lord have happened in those quiet moments spent alone with Him walking in the woods. But nothing could be further from the truth than to succumb to the belief that a person does not need to go to church.
Why, you ask?
It is not because church is the only place where you can have an extra super special connection to God. Nor is it so that churches can boast in the number of memberships they have. It is because church is an important and necessary part of the Christian life, and is so for several very good and valid reasons.
One of the primary reasons that it is important to go gather with other people is simply that we have been created as social beings. Right from the beginning God declared,
“It is not good that the man should be alone.” (Genesis 2: 18)
And, so he created a helpmate for Adam. Then God instructed them to be fruitful and multiply and to fill the earth, implying that mankind should expand into families, and eventually into tribes and nations. Gathering with others is simply the natural fulfillment of our built in need for social interaction with other people. Moreover, it is perfectly natural to gather with people of like mind. In Acts 2:42, we see an example of that when the believers gathered together for fellowship, and prayer, and to hear the teaching of the Apostles. They gathered, not just for social interaction, but to encourage one another and to join in mutual discipleship.
And that is why gathering with the church such a big deal. We could choose to gather with any group of good people to fulfill our need for social interaction. In some ways it might even be beneficial to interact with genuinely good-hearted people apart from the church, but it does not provide us with the spiritual encouragement and edification that can only come from other Christians pouring into our lives as we pour into theirs. We are all very much the product of the people with whom we associate. Consider how easily you start to use the same common phrases your friends or coworkers use.
We gather with one another to sharpen one another and to hold one another accountable in how we live as Christians. We band together to pool resources to do good in the name of Jesus. And we gather for the purpose of mutually honoring God in reverent worship. All of this is why the author of the letter to the Hebrews, found in the Bible, wrote:
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir 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 10:25)
I do not know where you are today in terms of what you believe or whether or not you are active in a church. If you are not a Christian I hope this at least gave you a little insight into why Christians think church is important, and that you will consider embarking on the Greatest Adventure. If you consider yourself a believer but have turned away from church life, I implore you to return to a doctrinally sound church where all of Scripture is believed and taught. Your faith journey will never be all that it can be if you go it all alone.