by Matt Slick
Can you be a good Christian and not go to church? The answer is both yes and no. Let me explain. Whether or not someone is a Christian is not determined by his or her church attendance. It is dependent upon his faith in Christ, who is God in flesh (John 1:1, 14), who died on the cross, and bore our sins in his body (1 Peter 2:24). If a person has received Christ by faith (John 1:12), then he is justified by faith (Romans 3:28; 5:1) and he (or she) is a Christian. Church attendance is not what makes us a Christian. But, Christians should seek the fellowship of other Christians (Heb. 10:25).
Being able to go to church can be affected by your circumstances. What if you are in jail due to persecution for your faith? You would not be going to church, but you would be a good Christian. Then again, what if you wanted to go to church but you're unable to because of a physical limitation where your mobility is restricted? Maybe you were injured and have to stay at home for a months. Or, what about the possibility of there not being a good church where you are? I've had many people tell me that they want to go to church because decent churches are just too far away. Also, there are people who have a work schedule that doesn't allow them to go to church, even though they want to go. In each of these circumstances, good Christians are not able to attend. So, because of situations like these, we cannot automatically say that in all circumstances, that you have to go to church to be a good Christian.
On the other hand, if you don't have a good reason to not attend a church and you just don't go because you're lazy, or think church is full of hypocrites, or someone wronged you at church once, then that is not good enough. The Bible tells us in Hebrews 10:25, "not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near." So, we are told to go to church so that we can encourage one another, hear the preaching of the word, and worship God in a corporate setting. These are all good things that Christians should participate in. We are not created to be alone. We were created to have fellowship with one another (1 John 1:7) and with God (1 Corinthians 1:9).
Finally, if you are a Christian, then you already are a member of "the church" because the church is the body of Christ (Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 1:18, 24). However if you are not attending a local body (Acts 8:1; 13:1;18:22; 1 Corinthians 11:18) then there needs to be a good reason. But, if you are able to attend a church, then you need to go. You need to attend the body of Christ so that they can minister to you, so that you can minister to them, so that you can develop your spiritual gifts in the service of the body of Christ, so that you do not develop an attitude of independence. We need the body of Christ to grow and to be instructed in God's word.
So, if you can go to church, then go.