Do I have to go to church?

How do I choose which church to go to? Why bother with going to church?

Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian. Some followers of Jesus can’t get to one – but most of us could go if we wanted to, if we thought it was important.

Do you know who came up with the idea of church? It is God’s idea – he designed us, he knows what we need and how we work best and he came up with the idea because he knows that church is good for us, it helps us, we need it.

Why is church important?

You don’t have to go to church, God won’t kick you out of his family if you don’t go, but if you want to follow Jesus then you need to remember that he knows best and choose to go to church because he thinks it is good for us to go! It is good for us because it is God’s way to provide us with a family, a spiritual family – it’s not good for us to be alone, relationships are important, and church should be like a loving, caring, encouraging, supportive family. Church is somewhere you can give your love and talents to bless, help and encourage other people. Church is not just about getting – it is also about you giving yourself to others. You might feel you don’t get anything from going along – but can you be what someone else needs? By giving yourself, your time or your skills to help others, out of a desire to do what Jesus wants you to do, you will find you are helped and encouraged and grow in your faith too.

A good church is a great place to find support during tough and challenging times, a place to find care and love – where people will pray for you, encourage you, help you and be there for you.

Church is where we can worship God together with other people, singing together and being encouraged to worship him more because others around us are singing to him and worshipping him too.

Church is where we can learn more about God, where we can get to know Jesus better, where we are helped to understand what the Bible says and how God wants us to live. God chooses to equip certain people in churches to teach others about him, we all need to listen to these people as they help us to follow Jesus.

How do I choose which church to go to?

Anyone can call themselves a Christian but it doesn’t mean they are. Anywhere can describe itself as a church but it doesn’t mean it really is. A Christian is someone that follows the Jesus of the Bible. A church is a place where the God of the Bible is taught about and worshipped.

When choosing where to go to we need to make sure they teach the Bible and only the Bible. Not the Bible plus religious traditions, not the Bible plus other holy books, not the Bible plus other prophets or teachers – only the Bible.

When choosing a church we need to make sure that the Bible they teach from is the one that everyone else also calls the Bible. If they are the only church that thinks their Bible is the right one and they teach all other Bibles are wrong then don’t trust them!

There are many different styles of churches, different ways of choosing leaders, different ways or singing songs or running a meeting and some might be more similar to what the first church did than others, but these factors are much less important.

There is one main teaching that a church needs to get right and that is – how do you become a follower of Jesus? How do you get to heaven? The Bible clearly teaches that forgiveness is a free gift that we don’t deserve and can’t earn – it is given by God to those that put their hope and trust in Jesus. If a church teaches people must do extra religious acts to earn God’s love then it is not a good church because it adding extra ideas to the Bible.

What will help you best?

Some churches are better at teaching but not so good at love and care, other churches are great for worship or acts of kindness, or friendliness and support or for children, or young couples – no church is the best church at everything! At different times in our life we need to prioritise one thing over another – it is good to choose a Bible teaching church that fits best with what you most need in your life at the moment.

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