In the Bible, the church is called the “Body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:27). As soon as you trust in Christ for your salvation, you become a member of that spiritual Body. But until you identify yourself with a local visible church—not only by joining but by attending—your identity is questionable. If you believe in Christ, you should be willing to join with others who do. Otherwise, you are like a sailor who joins the Navy but refuses to get on a boat.
A local church is a community, where people will encourage you, teach you, and hold you accountable in your walk with Christ. Hebrews 10:24 says, “Let us consider one another to provoke [stir up] unto love and to good works.” The words “one another” dot the landscape of the New Testament. We are urged to encourage one another, love one another, greet one another, and honor one another, among many other things. You can neither fulfill those duties or receive their benefit from others effectively without attending church. It’s not always easy to live the Christian life; we need the fellowship of a local church.
The Apostle Paul declared, “The body is not one member, but many” (1 Corinthians 12:14). Your physical body is not made up of all eyes, all noses, or all feet. It takes many different parts working together to make the body effective. In the same manner, it takes many different people, all with different gifts, to be effective in ministering for Christ. Certainly, you can serve Christ without a church by showing love, teaching God’s Word, or praying for a need, but you cannot do any of those things as effectively by yourself as you could if you joined your gift to a body of believers. Imagine the foolishness of a baseball player who played the game without a team. He would surely lose every time!
I’ve heard many people say, “I love God.” It’s popular to love God. But have those people considered what God says? “And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also” (1 John 4:21). How can you claim to love God when you don’t gather with your brothers and sisters in Christ? That’s tantamount to claiming to love your family but refusing to see them!
For these and other reasons, the Lord has commanded believers to gather regularly. As Hebrews puts 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” (10:25).
Yes, it is possible to be a Christian without going to church. But you cannot be a good Christian without attending to church. --Wayne P. Cooper