Is Church Really Necessary?

Is Church Really Necessary?

Many Protestant organizations stress the importance of being "saved" and "making a profession of faith". Does this mean that considering the decision of faith, is it really necessary to go to church? The following article will attempt to answer this question.
By Deborah Lambeth

We've all seen the Bible-toting "preachers", or the Gideon Bibles in hotels and hospital rooms. We've also seen the televised church services of "mega" churches - ones that have over 5,000 members. There are many other ways, by which religious people reach out to others to make sure that they are "saved." The question, "what am I being saved from?", always comes up in conversations about salvation, faith, and beliefs. Indeed, if we are saved from something, then where are we going to go once we're saved?

In some Protestant denominations, there are programs designed primarily for outreach and evangelism. The term called "Evangelism Explosion" was designed in 1972 by Coral Ridge Ministries in Florida, primarily to save people and to develop more churches. This program consists of simply memorizing the scriptures, and helping to lead an nonbeliever to believe in Christ. The problem with this system is that in determining a person's "belief or unbelief", the potential convert has to answer two questions:
  1. If you died tonight, do you know where you'd go?
  2. If you died tonight and stood before God, why should he let you into his heaven?
These are seemingly benign questions, but if answered "incorrectly", the person that is trying to lead you to Christ will start peppering you with the scriptures, which they have memorized; totally ignoring the relational aspect of helping a person to make a decision of faith.

Jesus' ministry was one of relationship building and nurturing. Most evangelism "programs" miss the relational component. Once the evangelists lead you to Christ, they leave you to find your own church and group of people, with whom you can identify. But is church really necessary for the continuation of our "salvation"? Is going to church important? Many would say yes. Others would argue that going to church is not necessary for salvation, especially since the scriptures say that God loves and forgives all knowing and living.

In order to come to the conclusion that the church is not necessary, it would seem that a person has to go to church to determine whether it needs to be an important aspect of their life or not. Many people consider it as a wonderful opportunity to get to know different people, make friends, and have a social outlet. Others find it inspiring and uplifting, as it is their "routine" on Sunday, in order to face the upcoming week. Some people find the church as a good place for conversation with themselves, and to understand the Bible scriptures, primarily for their application in their everyday lives. These are all good reasons to go to church. However, not going does not diminish one's faith related decision.

While making a faith related decision is an important one, it is also very private, and the expression of that decision is personal and individual. Certainly, going to church can enhance a person's decision, but it is not necessary for it to be constant. In the Bible, in the book of John, the scripture simply says, "Once you believe, you are always saved." Furthermore, nothing we do or don't do will separate us from that decision to believe.
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