Can you be a good Christian without going to church?

Last updated on December 8, 2022


The Bible commands us to keep on meeting together as Christians whenever possible. “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some” (Hebrews 10:24-25). So, if there are church services you could attend regularly, you are supposed to do so.

Part of Christ

The fundamental issue behind this question is the nature of a Christian, and also of the Church. The two are closely related at this point. When someone becomes a Christian, he/she is not just a single person who’s now a Christian. Rather, he becomes part of the body of Christ (that is, the church). Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:13:
“For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – Jews or Greeks, slaves or free – and all were made to drink of one Spirit.”

In other words, when someone becomes a Christian, he is baptized into one body (Christ’s). And he is a member of that body, together with other Christians. Paul continues to describe the church as a body in verses 14-26, and argues that as in a human body every part (eye, hand, arm, leg, etc.) is needed, so also in the body of Christ, every part is needed. Paul concludes his argument in verse 27: “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”

We need each other

Therefore, if someone is a Christian and isn’t a member of a church and doesn’t regularly attend that church, in effect he is saying to the other parts of the body (to other Christians), ‘I don’t need you’ (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:21). However, the reality is that we do need each other, just as a human body needs all its parts. Its head, arms and feet, etc.

This corporate nature of the church is also seen in the New Testament in other pictures that are used for the church. For example, the picture of a temple in 1 Peter 2:5: “You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

(Note that “you” at the start of this verse is plural: i.e. “you all together, like living stones, are being built…”)

Commands to love or serve another

This is why the New Testament is full of commands to love or serve one another. Because we are one body together and we need each other, and other Christians need us too. Being a member of a local congregation is a wonderful chance to practice this brotherly love and to experience the unity of all believers.
Here is a list of some of the commands in the New Testament:

  • 1 Peter 1:22: “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart.”
  • Hebrews 10:24: “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.”
  • Philippians 2:3-4: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
  • Galatians 6:1-2: “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
  • Ephesians 4:25: “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.”

A church can help you to grow in faith

Going to church regularly is also a great help to grow in faith. Of course, our relationship with God is a private matter and we should spend time with Him first and foremost. But it can be very helpful to commit to a group of God’s people to serve together, worship together, learn together, pray together, and to grow spiritually. So if you have the chance to become member of a local church, please do so!
Would you like to know what to expect in a church service? Read our article What happens in a church service?

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