This seems to be an ongoing debate and/or struggle with people. No, you don’t have to go to church in order to get to heaven. Does anyone have to go to church? No. It’s the fact that we get our encouragement/motivation from fellowship with other believers. It’s hard enough living in this world and then living in this world with all this sin and temptation….of course we’ll need some help to withstand all the tests. That’s why it’s good to have fellow believers hold you accountable so we don’t act foolish, especially on the same things.
“So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.” – 1 John 1:6-7
Does going to church make you a better person than someone who doesn’t? Nope. Church really doesn’t mean anything if your actions don’t follow through. People grow up (like myself) with being forced to go to church. We don’t really know why we should go, we just go because our parents are making us go. Then we grow up and decide not to go because it was never fun as a kid. I was blessed and found a wonderful church in Orlando, FL (back when I lived there) and that was the first time I found a church where it never felt like a burden to go. I genuinely enjoyed the people, the service and the Pastors. Is it okay to try different churches? Of course! I didn’t find that on my first try. Even if you have a church that you attend and are comfortable at, there’s nothing wrong with visiting other churches. What I’ve (personally) noticed about myself is that when I start to stray from God, the fact that I stopped going to church always played in. I didn’t purposely stop going for any particular reason aside from my work schedule, I was busy or I was tired. You open doors and you’re more prone to give in to temptation when you’re not held accountable and not being around fellow Christians.
“You can go park your body in a church pew 3 times a week and that doesn’t mean anything. The proof is in the pudding. It’s how we are acting. What are we doing when we leave the place. We haven’t shown that we’ve learned anything if we don’t go out and act different than when we did.” – Joyce Meyer
This world has done a terrible thing and made “church” or “religion” WAY more complicated than it is. It’s not about religion, it’s not about going to church…it’s simply your own personal relationship with Jesus Christ. That’s all. It’s SO simple. Church isn’t there to make you feel guilty about not going either. It’s a place to gather and praise God and thank him with your fellow spiritual brothers and sisters and hear what God’s doing in everyone’s life. At the end of the day, whether you go to church once a week or 3 times a week, it’s YOUR relationship with Christ that matters NOT how many times you go to church. If you aren’t living the life then going to a building is not going to make your life right. It starts with you making a decision.
“But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives in you, so you don’t need anyone to teach what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true. So just has he taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ.” – 1 John 2:27