Do You Have to Go to Church to Be a Christian?

You don’t need to physically attend church to consider yourself a Christian. The essential criteria for identifying as a Christian is the faith that Jesus Christ (the Son of God) shouldered your sins, gave His life for you, and was resurrected in order to bring you into harmony with God the Father, thereby offering you the promise of eternal life.

Far too many people have fallen prey to the lie that going to church or being brought up in the church makes you a Christian. They tick the “Christian” box when filling in forms and wrongly believe they’re on their way to Heaven when they die. 

Let’s take a closer look at what makes you a genuine Christian, the church’s role in your life if you are a believer, and why it’s so valuable.

modern church service

How To Become a Christian

According to the Bible, outward actions like church attendance, being kind, or avoiding tattoos, do not earn you favor with God or make you good enough for Heaven—yet there are people who subconsciously live this out. Thankfully, through the Bible, God makes it clear how people CAN become Christians (Christ followers) and enjoy eternity with Him.

Acknowledge Your Sin

Sin is rebellion against God and every single one of us is guilty of it. We are born with a sinful nature; the core of our being is corrupt from the very beginning. Sure, there are some people who have committed sins with more serious consequences—like murder—but at the end of the day, even the smallest lie or act of selfishness or pride is enough to label you a sinner.

Romans 3:23 (ESV) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

See Your Need for a Savior

When we understand our sinful condition before God, whose standard is perfect righteousness, we become desperately aware of our need to be saved from eternal death—the punishment we deserve! We can’t get rid of our sin on our own. We simply can’t be good enough for God through our own efforts. We need help! We need a Savior.

Romans 6:23 (ESV) For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Put Your Faith in Christ

Jesus, God the Son, left the glory of Heaven to come down and be born as a human (Phil 2:7). He lived a perfect, sinless life. He was without blemish. Then He died on the cross. Why did Jesus have to die? He took the sins of the world on Himself, suffered the fullness of God the Father’s wrath, and died in our place. But that wasn’t the end. He conquered death and rose again—He was victorious over sin and death! 

Believe and accept this precious, FREE gift from God, through grace, and you will stand pure and righteous before God the Father—you will be a Christian.

Romans 10:9 (ESV) because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV) For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

The Importance of Church for Christians

The term “church” in the Bible describes the gathering and corporate worship of Christians (the local church), and it is also used to describe ALL believers (the universal church).  There are many different denominations, but one Church.

In Scripture, we learn that Jesus Christ is the leader (head) of the church (Col 1:18). Through the work of the church—also called Christ’s body—the world can see who God is and hear the good news about how to be saved (the gospel) (Matt 5:16).  

While church attendance does not save you, God in His goodness instructs believers to meet together. Why? The following verses highlight the value of gathering together. We saw the early church gathering frequently together.

Colossians 3:16 (ESV) Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

Hebrews 10:24-25 (ESV) 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, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Attending a solid, Bible-believing church:

  • Grows your understanding of God’s Word
  • Allows you to be corrected in God’s Word when you are wrong
  • Provides an opportunity to worship with others 
  • Grows your thankfulness
  • Encourages you to love others
  • Inspires you to do good works 
  • Renews your hope that Christ is coming back soon

You don’t have to go to church to be a Christian, but it is part of God’s plan to grow and encourage you in your faith. If you’ve trusted Christ as your Savior, in obedience to God, find a local church and use the gifts God has given you to love and serve others. New churches are planted all the time across the world. Whether you choose a long-standing denominational church or a non-denominational church, it’s important to get involved.

People in the church have issues, sure. Your local church is probably far from perfect. But the church continues to reform across the globe and is continuously being changed into the image of its bridegroom.

You’re actually serving your Savior, Jesus.

Colossians 3:23-24 (ESV) Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

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