“I Don’t Have to Go to Church to be a Christian.”

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As I was talking to Bill, a gentleman at Gold’s Gym, yesterday, he made the above statement.  I hear this statement a lot and I always assure the person I’m talking to that I’m not necessarily trying to increase a church roll as much as I’m trying to increase God’s roll – the Book of Names. While I don’t believe that church attendance is a dogma for salvation, I do believe it is essential for each believer’s spiritual growth and maturity.

Now, I’m sure I could write a huge dissertation on the subject, but I don’t have the time to write it and you have more important things to do than read it.  But there are a few brief points I want to bring to the table. 

Claiming, “I don’t have to go to church to be a Christian,” I believe, is like saying, “I don’t have to go to practice to play on the team.”¬†¬†You may argue, “Then aren’t you¬†claiming that church attendance is after¬†all required?”¬† I would answer, “No, I’m not.”¬†¬†¬†My argument is not a legal issue, but rather a heart issue.¬† We are told that anyone in Christ will bear much fruit (John 15:5)¬†and we will know a tree by its fruit (Matt 7:16-18).¬† We are also told that if a tree does not produce fruit, then it would be cut down and thrown into the fire because it is wasting soil (Matt 7:19; Luke 13:6-9).¬† You see, as Christians, we should have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16) and cultivate a passion for the things he is passionate about.

First, I believe community with other believers is one thing he desires for us.¬† As John Donne once wrote, “No man is an island.” Donne argues that all mankind is involved with each other and therefore affects each other. Furthermore, we are commanded not to give up meeting together (Hebrews 10:35). By neglecting the community, we forsake vital experiences and wisdom from fellow believers.

Second, we are told to prepare our minds for action (1 Peter 1:13; this is very similar to the production of fruit).¬† As a coach, if I had players who didn’t come to practice, then I knew their minds weren’t in the game.¬† Furthermore, their lack of participation demonstrated their lack of enthusiasm for playing on the team.¬† I could give anyone a playbook filled with X’s and O’s, but through practice, we learn how to effectively and efficiently execute the plays.¬† You can’t get that experience from just reading a book.

Christ expects more of his Church. We ought to expect more of ourselves and each other.  We ought to spur each other on to greatness (1 Thessalonians 5:11). While Christ has called his Church to be more than benchwarmers, unfortunately, a majority of the Church is satisfied with just seeing their name in the “yearbook.”

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Manuel at the Exxon

Last week, I stopped in to buy a snack at an Exxon gas station.¬† One of Switchfoot’s songs…

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