No, I’m not telling you to stop attending church.
You must do what you believe God wants you to do.
If you Stop Attending Church
But if you stop attending church so that you can be the church, it may be the best thing that ever happens to you in your life with Jesus and your evangelistic endeavors.
When I stopped attending church, the number of spiritual conversations I had with people skyrocketed. Previously, when I was a pastor and a regular church attender, I rarely had spiritual conversations with people who were not already in a church.
But after I stopped attending church, and started trying to follow Jesus into the world, the number of conversations I had with people who don’t go to church became a nearly daily occurrence. Now, as I go about my day, run errands, and so on, I have been shocked at how Jesus just seems to insert himself into conversations.
Previously, I used to try to figure out how to “change the subject” from weather and politics to the Bible and Jesus. It was always awkward and unnatural. Now, I sometimes find myself talking about following Jesus outside of “the church” to someone, and I think to myself, “How in the world did we end up here?”
I don’t really know how to explain it.
Yes, I am praying for opportunities to talk with people, and our girls are real outspoken about Jesus, and my wife and I are always carrying around Christian books, so maybe those spark the conversations. But we have always done these things. What changed?
Only one thing. I stopped “going to church” so I could be the church. It’s not always an either-or, but it’s what we did.
People Want to Know why You Stopped Attending Church
When people find out I’m trying to follow Jesus but I don’t “attend church” they are intrigued. They often want to find out more, and the conversation turns to subjects of following Jesus, questions about God, and other spiritual matters.
I make it a point to say that I have not stopped attending church because I hate the church or am running from God. No, I am more involved now with church than ever before. I am trying to follow Jesus in ways that show love to others than ever before. The time and energy I used to devote to attending church I now seek to use in being the church among others.
This sort of conversation usually leads to another conversation, and another, until eventually, we have a relationship, and we hang out, eat lunch together, help each other with work around the yard or house, and so on.
So for me, stopping attending church seems to be a good “conversation starter” with lots of other people who do not go to church.
Have you had experiences like this, where God seems to work in and through your life once you have started “being the church” rather than just “attending church”?
(Note: In the past few years, I have met a few people who were “sent out” by their church as missionaries with this sort of task. They work secular jobs, and just meet regularly with people for discussions. They made it clear to their church that they will not be attending church and will not be trying to convince the people they meet with to attend church. The sending church agrees to this, and supports them in prayer… and sometimes financially. That is awesome!)
That is EXACTLY what I do now. I tell Jesus stories adn while I do miss church on ocassion I quickly get over it when someone hears the real Jesus for the first time.
Jeremy Myers says
It seems that missing church can actually be a good thing if we keep eyes out for the divine appointments God has for us outside the four walls of a church building.
Great post! I don’t know how I missed it.
We too stopped attending church in the traditional sense. While lots of church attenders don’t get this (“Christians are supposed to Go To Church”), lots of other people understand very well.
When people on the street ask why we do the stuff we do, we tell them we’re followers of Jesus who are trying to show some love to people. When they ask us where we go to church we tell them “This is where we go to church – with you and the other folks on the street.” Most of them really “get it”.
We also have spiritual conversations regularly, mostly with those outside the church. These often turn into them asking us questions they’ve always wanted to ask but didn’t know who to ask, or telling us things they have no one to tell.
Most people are definitely interested in the spiritual, but didn’t like what they found at the church or churches they tried. (Most have attended church at least several times.) In terms of our cookie conversation, the cookies were tasteless or even tasted bad.
Brandon Chase says
I love this Jeremy. Thank you. In my own experience, setting down church as something to “go to” and instead to “Be,” has changed everything. I am convinced the next great move of The Lord is a restoration of a remnant of His Church, showing Christianity and the world, the power of “Being” the Bride, Body and Family in the earth.
Jeremy Myers says
Thanks. I will come check out your post!
Michael Kampff says
I’d much rather BE The Church than go to church. He calls us to discipleship, not church membership. (I should tweet those! 🙂 )
A church is a place of worship, learning and fellowship. And let’s face it, some churches provide a better opportunity for each of those things than others. But guess what? There are many options for worship, learning, and fellowship. I learn from this blog regularly. I worship Him through surrounding myself with Christian music rather than pop culture (although even Christian music has its flaws). I fellowship through every Christian relationship I maintain (face to face, telephone, online, etc are all viable ways to fellowship). We all know that attending church does not make a person a Christian, and there are many people who are fooling themselves.
If the Lord revealed to each of us one thing we could do to glorify Him (one step in faith), I have complete confidence it would NOT be “you need to go to church”. In fact, it would likely be different for each of us, based on our knowledge of and relationship with Him, as well as our surroundings and influence and other factors. But going to church does NOT inherently glorify Him.
I AM The Church. I AM His Body. Lord, please work through me.
Jeremy Myers says
Right on! Being the church is what Jesus wants. Loving others as He loved. Serving others.
Melanie Tippett says
Its just not Biblical. I believe its important to be the church and to attend a church… to be among other believers who can speak truth into your life and help you grow. Doing it alone was not Gods plan, we need each other. I have seen what happens to peoples relationship with God when they don’t DO church. It becomes life on their terms.. we are on a journey together , a work in progress ..as Christian believers we need to be accountable to each other
The Bible doesn’t tell us to go to church, as we commonly use the term. One can attend church and connect with no other believers, and one can connect with other believers without attending church. Yes, we do need each other, both believers and non-believers. We also need to go, to take the church to those who do not believe, rather than waiting for them to come to us, the church.
Melanie Tippett says
Hi Sam yes we are to be the church all the time in or out of church and are called to tell others the good news We get our food from church when we hear the word as well as honouring God by making time for Him. We make the choice to connect with others at church and to have fellowship together outside of Church..From my personal experience it seems that without going to church people stray off the path and their own ideas of church reign.
Jeremy Myers says
I don’t think I said anything about doing it alone, nor do I recommend it. I am in fellowship with many other believers. There are numerous ways to be in fellowship with other believers that does not involve sitting in a pew at 11:00 on Sunday morning at a brick building down the street.
As to personal experience, I have actually had the exact opposite experience. I find that most errors and dangerous teachings come from within the institutional religion of church buildings, not from people who are simply seeking to follow Jesus in their day-to-day lives.
The problem with “church” today is that the majority of people who are members don’t have the spiritual skills to “be” the church to any people other than their fellow church members. The evangelistic vacuum most people consider church consists of two hours on Sunday and then it’s back to the business life. Don’t get me wrong, I know there are many church attenders/members who are awesome witnesses for the gospel. Unfortunately, the extent of the majority of church members’ witness is asking someone to “come” to “their” church, which seems to me to be a real evangelistic cop-out. “Being” the church is so much more liberating and fulfilling as a believer. The tough part, which demands much study and prayer, is accepting the full responsibility to always be ready to give a defense of your faith and share the gospel of Christ – and be willing to face tons of rejection and even a little ridicule. And that’s what I think has Jeremy so excited.
Jeremy Myers says
Neil, you got it!
Of course, many think that witnessing and evangelizing only happens when we use words, or take people through the Romans Road or Four Spiritual Laws. But I don’t think this is the only (or best) way to witness or evangelize. I know you don’t either, I am just saying that as people start to live naturally with their neighbors, normal and natural conversations seem to start happening.