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Can You Be a Christian and Not Go To Church?

What does the Bible really say about going to church?

People are leaving the church, millennials are leaving the church. That’s a reality we need to face. Many in my generation have left the church for a variety of reasons. Some good, some bad. Regardless the religious landscape is changing in America.

America’s Changing Religious Landscape | PEW Research

There are many that have left the church and the Christianity. I’ve written on this before and probably will again (6 Reasons Why Millennials Aren’t Attracted to the Church), but that’s not what I want to focus on in this article. What I want to focus on is those that have left the church but NOT left Christianity. Because I think there is something important we need to grasp.

I know what some of you are thinking. A Christian should never leave the church. But I want to push back on that notion. Before you call me a heretic, hear me out. 

Christians are called to live in community with each other. You cannot really get around that; the Bible talks about the importance of that a lot. However the church has equated these passages to having perfect church attendance. But those two things are not the same.

We’ve mistaken church attendance with living in community. They are not the same.

Most of these go-to passages about community are surrounding the formation of the early church. Paul and other early church leaders wrote about the importance of living in community with others.

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. Hebrews 10:24-35

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. Romans 12:4-5

I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. 1 Corinthians 1:10

Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:46-47

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. Acts 4:32

I’m convinced that the reason many people, especially millennials, are leaving the church is because this community is becoming an increasing rarity in American churches. This is certainly a generalization; I am aware of many churches that still push great community. However many have shifted their focus to butts in the seat on Sunday mornings and little else.

These verses, and the others, clearly point towards the importance of community. However we still need to remember the context these were written in. In the early church they didn’t have anything similar to what we have today. There were no lights, skinny jeans, organized worship, or children’s ministry. It was just a group of people that met in someone’s house.

Attending church isn’t a bad thing, in fact I believe it’s a good thing. But we aren’t called to go to church. We are called to live in community. There’s a difference. You can be a Christian that doesn’t go to church. However all Christians should be connected to a community of other Christians. 

Many people get their community from their churches. However many have chosen to find their community apart from the organized church.

I’ve seen a lot of people that have decided to leave the church and get ridiculed and told they were bad Christians. But listen, if you are staying plugged into a solid Christian community I can’t find an argument that says they are wrong. And I’m sick of Christians bashing other Christians when they are doing the right thing.

Many Christians, especially in the millennial generation, are done with church. And by church I mean the organized institution of church. The thing that meets on Sunday. But they are not over community, they aren’t over meeting together, many are still plugged into solid Christian community. And I just cannot see how someone can say that doesn’t align with Scripture. And in all honesty their community looks a whole lot more like the 1st Century church than we might think.

Hear me on this… I’m not saying people should leave the church. I believe in the church; I work for a church. I vote yes for church. I want the church to reach people with God’s love.

Finding a community of people that are following Jesus that you can live life with is more important than finding a church that has great preaching and moving worship.

Maybe all this points to a need to shift the focus of the church. Christians are called to create community and if our churches aren’t doing that maybe it’s time to change. Maybe it’s time to refocus on the real mission, people not programs.

The power of the church is not in how big the building is, how relevant the message is, or whether the perfect worship song is played. The power is in the people; it’s in the community. The church changes lives when we get involved in each others lives, not when we sit and observe a service for an hour each week.

Christians are called to live life in community with each other. That community can come from a small group at your church, but it can also come from somewhere else. And I would argue if you have a group of Christians that meet together regularly, that is the church. Maybe they don’t’ have a name or a building, but neither did the first church.

It’s the church that emphasizes community that is going to make the biggest impact. It’s that church, that group, that will reach others with God’s love. This next generation doesn’t care about fancy buildings and cool messages. They want relationships. When Christians pursue community and invite others in that is when the church (organized or not) can do it’s best work.

If you aren’t plugged into a community of people that are following Jesus, do it! Your local church is the perfect place to find one. Although it’s not the only place.

I’m sure you have your thoughts, and I’d love to hear them and start a conversation with you. What do you think? If you have left your church but stayed into community I would love to hear from you!

73 comments on “Can You Be a Christian and Not Go To Church?

  1. I do not think that going to church translates to observing a service for an hour each week, as you put it up there. We all know that church is not a building, it is a community in itself. As long as what you do elsewhere gives God glory, as long as it helps you grow your faith, then carry on.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have once left the church to teach myself and my family all that i could. Well in doing that I came to realize that I was without community and connection to other believers. I was very important for me to get together with the community and be in Christ together. I will always be in church so I can worship ion group and learn from others.

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  3. Pingback: Can You Be a Christian and Not Go To Church? - Liberty Street

  4. I know some faith-abiding Christians who live in France and don’t go to church. There is no church where they are but they are Spirit-filled, they walk in love and they stay in faith.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I think you hit the nail on the head with this line, “However many have shifted their focus to butts in the seat on Sunday mornings and little else.” I am a Christian, a church-goer, a member of my church, and a volunteer, and I can tell you that the CHASE and FOCUS of many Mega churches (or wannabe megachurches) is wasted on the urge to grow and grow and grow. After six years at my church, I am witnessing the shortcoming of such a chase. Oh yeah, they’re filling seats, promoting functions, and selling merchandise but instead of promoting fellowship and community, they promote exclusivity and cliquishness. I’m not even sure they’re aware of it. But here I am six years after God found me and placed me in this church, feeling like I am lacking community. It’s a strange place to be as a Christian; enveloped in God’s love more than any other time in my life, yet feeling abandoned by my church. I’ve felt the pull to walk away for over a year, but guilt has kept me trapped. I’m so glad I came across your post, as I’m starting to see that “community” does not necessarily translate to four walls and the title of “church.”

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  6. I landed here because I was searching for content about church small groups. Good stuff! I look forward to reading more. Also, you should check out DailyPS! We’re looking for authors to write more about church small groups. Regards, Alex (

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  7. Amen a million times over. It’s amazing how even our language gets co-opted by the modern sense of “church.” You mentioned that many churches “push” great community. The idea of a church having to push community instead of simply being community would have been foreign to early Believers. We focus too much on our institutions having an obligation to facilitate things like community – instead of the obligation of individual believers to make community by being peacemakers, by loving others, by being forgiving and such. Where Christians virtues are practiced, community forms.
    Thanks for this awesome spotlight on the need for community, the need for churches to reconsider models that no longer create loving Christian community, and the advocacy for all of us who leave traditional church membership behind and discover Christian community in different ways! Rogues are on the rise. It’s an important topic for churches to be willing to discuss. Because rogue Christians and institutionally-tied Christians are on the same side – and we both have things to offer each other.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Jeffery, Thanks for following my blog on Word Press. I am a Catholic Christian, and this post speaks loudly to me. Although in our tradition it is imperative to attend weekly Mass and participate in the Eucharist as much as possible, I think you are right in saying that the absence of true community is what millennials and others are objecting to when they leave the church. As people of faith, we need to make it so much more about reaching out to each other, building each other up, and sharing ourselves with each other. Thanks for a thoughtful post.


  9. This post has given me much to think about. Thank you. I left our church years ago because I did not feel a sense of connection. Over the past several years, I occasionally attended churches of different faiths in an effort to feel connected. Each church had a distinctly different personality and was welcoming, but I never felt as though I belonged. The more time that passed without regular church attendance, the more I missed that sense of connection. Recently, Jesus answered my prayers and led me to a little church that felt like home. It was its community service programs that drew me to it, along with its inclusiveness, diversity and connection to the surrounding community. Since I have begun attending church again regularly — in a church that gives me a sense of community and purpose — I’ve felt more fulfilled in my faith. I believe it helps make be a better version of myself. I will never judge Christians who choose not to attend church services regularly. However, when asked, I recommend that Christians try not to become isolated — and try to find a way to connect with other believers who share their sense of spiritual purpose. Whether that involves a church, a home, or some other method, I believe is a matter between individuals and God. God bless.


  10. What an excellent post! Community is missing from Sunday Morning services. Churches are too focused on programs and not people. I love the Bible study I attend each Wednesday evening. We’re all good friends and they’ve become my community. But Sunday services cause me humiliation. I can’t read the hymn books and overhead screen because I’m almost blind. I have no family so I feel left out of conversations afterr the service is over. I also don’t like kids running in front of me because I can’t see them until it’s too late. Worse yet, I’ve been condemned for not going to Sunday service because those people equate worship with faithfulness. And as for millenials, I’d love to meet some and start an evening study. Anybody who loves Christ and wants to dig into the scriptures is welcome to correspond with me.


  11. You wrote, “The church changes lives when we get involved in each others lives, not when we sit and observe a service for an hour each week.”

    I would like to add, that a praying believer, one who reads and obeys relevant scriptures, one who hears and heeds the Saviours voice, the one dying to self and the flesh and the world – that is a believer who is shining the light of Christ and who can be useful in the Lord’s service.

    The community and interaction with other believers is a blessing but not a necessity. The connection to the Head, the Lord Jesus Christ, is THE most important part of being a Christian I think. Many of the Bible greats had to be alone, just with the Lord. Sometimes believers have to go through testing and trials and aloneness, times in the wilderness, in order to be refined and strengthened in their faith. Think Elijah, Moses, John the baptist and Christ Himself.

    I have written recently a post called, just in case you are interested.

    God bless,


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