By Philip Nation, Crosswalk.com
The following is a transcribed Video Q&A, so the text may not read like an edited article would. Scroll to the bottom to view this video in its entirety.
I have the privilege of serving bi-vocationally with a church in the town where I live, and I do hear periodically the idea that people say I am a Christian but I don’t like going to church. My normal reaction to that is that I think you’ve missed the definition of what church is. Certainly, we could oversimplify and say the church is not a location or an address. You don’t go to church you are the church. But the cultural reality is that we all go to church. There is a campus, a building, a place that we meet, whether that is a coffee house or a cathedral. And so the idea that people say I don’t want to go to church, I don’t like church anymore, it is because they have given into a caricature of what the church is rather than being willing to what Christ proclaimed was going to be His church.
Church is the one institution that is eternal, that will never go away. “Not even the gates of hell”, the Scriptures tell us, “can prevail against the church”. So, the idea that at times Christians will say I’m a Christian but I don’t like going to church is normally a rejection of a cultural form rather than the church itself. It is the rejection of the institutionalized religion or perhaps it is something that has been overprogrammed. I sympathize with that. There are times when I look at the church and think she looks more like Shrek than the bride of Christ. That is not what Jesus had in mind. We have created our only little monster, usually in our own image.
So, for the believer who says I want to be a Christian but I don’t want to go to church, I would challenge them very clearly to think what is it that you want to reject. And if what it is that you want to reject is outside the boundaries of what the NT defines as the church, then you are on solid ground. Reject it. But if what you are rejecting is accountability or gathering together for worship because you are uncomfortable with something about the style, or what you are rejecting is being on mission because you are looking for a comfortable padded pew to sit in, then it is time for an assessment of the heart. Because you are rejecting parts of the body of Christ that are necessary for your own spiritual growth.
So when I hear someone say “I’m a Christian but I don’t want to go to church” that is a red flag that says it is time for an assessment.
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