Six. “I enjoyed the sermon, the choir, and the singing But I won’t be back. The sight of all those empty pews depressed me.”
Seven. This woman would not come because “I have to take care of my children.” When they grew up and left home, she declined again and said, “I reckon I won’t. I’ve never been much of a hand for gadding about.”
Why are there Christians who quit going to church? I think I know.
You’re not going to like my answer.
They’re probably not Christians. (I know. I said, “Why don’t Christians attend church” and then said they’re probably not Christians.)
Consider this brief analysis.
There is a social element to church-going, for both believers and unbelievers. We meet friends, enjoy fellowship and help each other with various situations. God made us that way. We need people. “It is not good that (any one of us) should live alone.”
In this respect a church may fill much of the same function, in a way, as an Elks Club, American Legion or lodge. Or even—for some people, I have heard—the friends at the pub.
In the earliest church, the believers gathered for “the apostles’ teaching, for fellowship, for breaking of bread and prayer” (Acts 2:42). Fellowship was, and remains, a huge element in the function of a church.
But for believers—those who truly do take the things of God seriously—that fellowship element, as important as it is, is just the icing on the cake. Underneath it is the dead-serious work of the Kingdom—worshiping God, teaching His word, spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, supporting those doing the Lord’s work, reaching out to those in need, etc.
Don’t miss this. There are two strata in this soil, two flows in this river, two elements in church-going. The top one is social and we call it fellowship; it’s more visible as a rule. The other is spiritual, it’s underlying, and goes by a number of names—worship, ministry, outreach, and so forth. It’s what Jesus had in mind when He said, “Teaching them to observe all the things I have taught you” (Matthew 28:18-20).
New believers need the church, they hunger for it as a newborn does its mother’s milk. A solid Christian will be in church, doing the work of the Lord, meeting with God’s people, and they will do this whether the fellowship aspect is there or not. He/she needs ministry like a fish needs water, like we all need air.
A solid Christian loves the fellowship of a church, but even when he/she cannot find it in a church they visit, that’s not a deal-breaker. They are there for Jesus’ sake, not their own.
The Christian-In-Name-Only (CINO) tries some churches, looking for all the trappings of a great fellowship. They rate the churches by their friendliness, the attitude of the preacher (does he seem likeable, did he remember our names), the appearance of the buildings, the fun at the church gatherings, and such. And if the church is lacking in these areas, they move on. When no church in the area measures up, they simply never go to church.
Because they’re there for the fellowship, not for Jesus Christ.
Is that brutal? Probably. And doubtless it’s not the whole story, not by any means. But it’s something to think about.
I’ll see you in church Sunday, brother, sister.
This article not going to church originally appeared here.