A recent Barna research declares the death of the church in the lives of nearly half of America’s Christians, “…In this new age, religion is in retreat from the public square, and traditional institutions like the church are no longer functioning with the cultural authority they once held in generations past. Today, nearly half of America is unchurched. But even though more and more Americans are abandoning the institutional church and its defined boundary markers of religious identity, many still believe in God and practice faith outside its walls.”1 (Emphasis Mine). This discovery is relevant to all parts of the world where the church exists; it’s not confined to America.
Christians who do not attend the church cannot be deemed as non-Christians. Barna reports that genuine Christians do not attend the church, “Barna created a metric to capture those who most neatly fit this description. It includes those who self-identify as Christian and who strongly agree that their religious faith is very important in their life, but are “dechurched”—that is, they have attended church in the past, but haven’t done so in the last six months (or more). These individuals have a sincere faith (89% have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important to their life today), but are notably absent from church.”2 (Emphasis Mine).
If genuine Christians do not attend the church, then it’s worthwhile to ascertain reasons pertinent to this sorry state in Christendom. Adequate reasons for this malady have been provided in my previous blog entitled, “How Could Christianity Insult & Injure You? (Toxic Christianity)”3
Churches are guilty of driving Christians away. Filth is in abundance in many churches. Typically the naive members of these churches, who have very high opinion of the church, would be nauseated by the filthy deeds of those in the church leadership (Pastors, Elders, Deacons, Worship leaders…).
The church is made up of people - you and me. Irresponsibility of the leaders manifesting in poor and shallow, and at times, theologically incorrect sermons drive people away from the church.
Then the presence of selfish, obnoxious, and spiritually proud Christians demeaning their fellow Christians by abusing their powerful leadership status to drive the church into a spiritual dungeon is a heartbreaking trend in many churches.
It is the Christians who compel their fellow Christians to steer clear of the church. When we blame the churches for being unchristlike, let us rightfully assign the blame upon Christians, who are the temple of the living God.
Would Christians lose their salvation if they do not attend a church? No! The Bible does not say that at all. “No amount of church attendance will earn eternity in heaven. No lack of church attendance will result in the loss of salvation” says conservative Christian Q&A website, gotquestions.org.4
Should those Christians who do not attend church be blamed for their lack of church attendance? What would one gain by blaming a Christian who does not attend the local church? Nothing!
Instead of blaming the Christian who does not attend the church, the church, if it’s keen on serving / ministering to people, should invest it’s energy into getting the Christian back into its fold. If the Lord Jesus encouraged the search and recovery of that one lost sheep (Luke 15: 3-7; Cf. Matthew 18: 12-14), the church does not have any valid reason, whatsoever, to not invite the unchurched Christians.
The Lord Jesus said, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be required” (Luke 12: 48b, NASB). This applies to the local church.
The local church has been given much, for the local church is a powerful spiritual entity than an individual Christian, who does not attend the local church. Hence it is incumbent upon the church to graciously invite the unchurched Christian into its fold.
If a Christian does not attend a church, he / she could remain devoid of vital spiritual power essential to his / her existence as a Christian. Although the benefits of attending a church are immense, here are a few germane reasons for your consideration.
Significantly, we will not lose our salvation by not attending a church, but by not attending a church, we are most likely to lose our salvation. How?
The devil is constantly on the prowl to devour Christians. Hence spiritual attacks against Christians are always imminent. By not attending a church, we remain vulnerable to Satan’s attack.
We could remain spiritually empty by not attending the church. Not being disciplined enough to study the Bible and pray [constantly] is a surefire recipe to bring forth a dangerous spiritual malady into our life.
The antagonists of Historic Christianity are active. Not being in the community of believers is a surefire recipe to be vulnerable to the debauched ideas that strive to destroy Historic Christianity. Yes, if we are not in a church, we offer ourselves as an open house that entertains erroneous ideas that attempts to contradict the veracity of Historic Christianity.
Here is a caveat. If we are in a painful situation of any kind (death of a loved one, sickness, joblessness, family problems, problems at your workplace etc.), it is imperative for us to be in a church. The church, potentially, has every spiritual medicine to treat us (assistance for various needs, wise Christian counsel, uplifting and encouraging prayers, shoulder to cry on etc.).
We may have very genuine reasons to not attending the church. The church may have acutely hurt us. Hence we may have lost faith in the church and may need time to heal (maybe months or even years). Alternatively, our work situation may have forced us to not attend the church.
Let’s face another fact here. None of us are primed to attend any church. We need that particular church that offers us the peace or the comforting ambiance to worship God in spirit and truth. In this regard, there may not be a church in our vicinity that appeals to us. In other words, our reasons for not attending a church could be exhaustive and rather valid.
What do we do in this situation?
We need to, very minimally, be in the company of spiritually mature Christians. If our family does not offer us that spiritual support for valid or invalid reasons, we need a spiritual mentor. We need to be completely honest with our mentor about the problems we confront.
If we do not have a spiritual mentor, we need to humbly and prayerfully seek a spiritual mentor. We should acknowledge that we need help and prayerfully search for that help. When we honestly and prayerfully seek, God will provide. Ask and it shall be given.
Being in the company of spiritually mature Christians and not a church is a not an everlasting remedy. Our prayer is to locate a church that would serve us.
But that’s not it. Our prayer is also that the church fulfills the need of its members and even the non-members. The onus is more on the church than it is on the Christian who is seeking a church. So we pray that the church leadership leads the church in a godly and a Christlike manner that invites and serves both the churched and the unchurched Christian.
So may the unchurched Christians find a church that satisfies their spiritual need. May God answer this prayer of ours.
Cited websites last accessed on 20th April 2017.