Is it a sin to not go to church?

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Michelle
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Is it a sin to not go to church?

Post by Michelle » Wed Sep 30, 2009 2:08 pm

I'm hoping that guy calls back and that there is a lengthy discussion about it.

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christopher
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Re: Is it a sin to not go to church?

Post by christopher » Wed Sep 30, 2009 2:14 pm

Weird, this topic just came up in my last prison study. Interesting how much passion it provokes in some people. What were your thoughts Michelle?

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Suzana
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Re: Is it a sin to not go to church?

Post by Suzana » Wed Sep 30, 2009 5:07 pm

Some more good discussion today, hey? Might even be continued tomorrow. :- )
Suzana
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If a man cannot be a Christian in the place he is, he cannot be a Christian anywhere. - Henry Ward Beecher

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Michelle
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Re: Is it a sin to not go to church?

Post by Michelle » Wed Sep 30, 2009 10:02 pm

Suzana wrote:Some more good discussion today, hey? Might even be continued tomorrow. :- )
Very good. I hope it continues.
christopher wrote:Weird, this topic just came up in my last prison study. Interesting how much passion it provokes in some people. What were your thoughts Michelle?
I guess one way for me to articulate my thoughts is to be a little autobiographic, with a note that in a year I'll probably have changed my mind.

Right now I've been attending a Calvary Chapel most Sundays, and have been since last spring. Therefore, if you agree that Hebrews 10:25 is a commandment, and that the next verse is the warning about dire consequences, I guess I'm covered. I don't really buy what I wrote in the previous sentence however. If I did, I'd have to admit to being pretty pharisaical since I would be following the letter of the commandment, but not its spirit.

I'm not naturally gregarious, I'm pretty introverted, although I'm not anti-social either. I find it really hard, however, to just walk up to strangers and introduce myself. I just come into church and sit alone, sing, pray, give, and listen to the sermon, and then go home. That mostly ignores the verse just before Hebrews 10:25, verse 24, where it says, "And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works..." I never do much of that at Calvary Chapel, except maybe the greeters.

I was the same way at the last church that I attended for a long time - about 15 years. At that church I did get to know people, served in a lot of ministries, joined small groups. I still never felt like I made those close friendships where you can encourage love and good works there. The odd thing was that I DID have Christian friends with whom I had that kind of relationship, I just didn't go to church with them. I discovered that I was knit together with an awesome group of women in a place that many people believe is one of the most godless in America: a public school. I got to thinking that more church happened there Monday through Friday than did on Sunday and Wednesday evening at the church I attended. I was learning more about the bible through my own study (here and elsewhere) as well, so I just stopped going to church.

When you do that, your Christian friends are sure that their church has just what you need, so I get invited to a lot of churches in our town. They all seem alike to me, so for about three years I just stopped attending church altogether. The odd thing was that instead of feeling like I was drifting farther and farther away from God, I felt closer to Him and to other believers. One of the most remarkable things that happened during that time, and, indeed, still is happening, is that I've made some great christian friends online who really do seem like a body of believers. I've met several of them in person and it always seems like family when we get together. Between the fellowship I have at work and the fellowship I have online, I seem to find ways to stir up love and good works. It's amazing who God puts in your path.

Now that I've said all that, there are some reasons why I started attending church again. There is something about corporate worship that is very moving to me. Even when the band is less than professional, or the congregation is sleepy, which it frequently is since I attend the 7:30 a.m. service, something just happens that doesn't seem to happen when I'm praying alone. There are also different ways to serve when you're part of a larger, organized group, I think. There's also something about leaving the house and setting out to attend a meeting of like minded (mostly) people that seems purposeful and meaningful. I guess these are all kind of nebulous reasons for attending church, and I don't have much scriptural back up for them, but that's what I missed while I wasn't attending church, although I really don't think I was willfully sinful during that time.
Last edited by Michelle on Wed Oct 07, 2009 6:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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christopher
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Re: Is it a sin to not go to church?

Post by christopher » Wed Sep 30, 2009 11:58 pm

So, you don't want to go to church anymore? (sounds like a good book title eh? ;) )

Honestly though, it sounds like you have this worked out already. You never really left the church in the true sense of scriptural exhortations. It sounds like you have remained in fellowship with the body of Christ through various expressions from what you've described.

I'm glad you don't buy into the common misconceptions about Hebrews 10 (which has more to do with denying Christ out of fear as Peter did than just not wanting to go to Sunday meetin' anymore). And as far as stirring people up to love and good works? Would it sound too patronizing if I said that I think you do plenty of that right here (and I assume other venues)? I myself have been very encouraged by your gracious demeanor over the years and I'm sure I'm not alone in that.

On the other hand, how wonderful that you've recognized something missing in your situation and were able to fill it with another expression of the body at your local Calvary Chapel. Nothing wrong with that either.

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Michelle
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Re: Is it a sin to not go to church?

Post by Michelle » Thu Oct 01, 2009 8:26 am

christopher wrote:So, you don't want to go to church anymore? (sounds like a good book title eh? ;) )
Yes, it sounds like the title of a great book. Can you imagine how a book with that title might be very encouraging to someone really thinking about this subject? :mrgreen:

Thank you very much for your kind words. :oops:

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Homer
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Re: Is it a sin to not go to church?

Post by Homer » Thu Oct 01, 2009 10:52 am

In the book "A Gathered People", by Hicks, Melton, and Valentine, the authors point out that Hebrews is generally thought to have been originally an oral sermon, and that Hebrews 10:19-25 should be read as one long sentence, as in the Greek. The sentence divides into two ideas: the basis of assembling and the encouragement to assemble.

In the text, the three "let us" are all present tense subjunctives. The participle "not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together" modifies all three of the subjunctives and thus identifies the purpose of assembling - to draw near to God, to profess their hope, and to care for each other:

Hebrews 10:19-25 (New King James Version)
19. Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20. by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21.. and having a High Priest over the house of God, 22. let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25. not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.


The presence of God among His gathered people, through Jesus, is stated in Matthew 18:20:

Matthew 18:19-20 (New King James Version)
19. “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. 20. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”


Although the context is church discipline, I think Jesus' statement is of general application. It would be very odd if His presence only occured regarding discipline of the wayward.

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Michelle
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Re: Is it a sin to not go to church?

Post by Michelle » Thu Oct 01, 2009 2:17 pm

Homer wrote:In the book "A Gathered People", by Hicks, Melton, and Valentine, the authors point out that Hebrews is generally thought to have been originally an oral sermon, and that Hebrews 10:19-25 should be read as one long sentence, as in the Greek. The sentence divides into two ideas: the basis of assembling and the encouragement to assemble.

In the text, the three "let us" are all present tense subjunctives. The participle "not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together" modifies all three of the subjunctives and thus identifies the purpose of assembling - to draw near to God, to profess their hope, and to care for each other:

Hebrews 10:19-25 (New King James Version)
19. Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20. by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21.. and having a High Priest over the house of God, 22. let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25. not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.


The presence of God among His gathered people, through Jesus, is stated in Matthew 18:20:

Matthew 18:19-20 (New King James Version)
19. “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. 20. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”


Although the context is church discipline, I think Jesus' statement is of general application. It would be very odd if His presence only occured regarding discipline of the wayward.
Hi Homer,

I agree with Messrs. Hicks, Melton, and Valentine. I was dismayed, however, when it became pretty clear that drawing near to God, professing hope, and caring for one another wasn't happening at the church I was a member of - where I gave my time, talents, and financial support, and was surprised and delighted to discover that assembling for those exact purposes happens during the daily grind, over dinner with five or six of us, or when a group of people just call on each other as brothers and sisters in the Lord.

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Murf
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Re: Is it a sin to not go to church?

Post by Murf » Fri Oct 02, 2009 12:34 pm

Since you are the Church, I'm not sure how you can stop going (or start for that matter) to church.

tim

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Michelle
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Re: Is it a sin to not go to church?

Post by Michelle » Fri Oct 02, 2009 5:42 pm

Murf wrote:Since you are the Church, I'm not sure how you can stop going (or start for that matter) to church.

tim
You make a good point here, Tim. The thing of it is that I don't think I could just sit at home doing needlepoint and say that I'm doing the things that the church is exhorted to do. How do you stir up love and good works, or encourange and share each other's burdens like that? I am convinced that some assembly is required (another great title! :mrgreen: ) but the question is what exactly does this assembling look like? Does it need to be prearranged? Do bulletins need to be printed in advance? Can it happen spontaneously when you gather with brothers and sisters just for work or fun? What I think is that it can happen in a variety of ways - however the Spirit leads. I've been amazed when I've just left it up to the Lord which people he connects me with to serve and glorify Him.

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