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I am a relatively new reader of this board, and I'm very confused about a lot of things. I am hoping that some of the regulars on this board may give me some guidance, answers or opinions.

I am taking a course at our church which is an introduction to the Christian faith. Today's chapter is entitled What about the Church? In the context of this course, the accepted definition of the Church is this: The church is made up of the people belonging to God, who are bound together in love as family, representing Christ to the world.

At the beginning of this session, a question was asked: Do you have to go to Church to be a Christian? At the end of the session, the leader said that the answer to this question is: you are the church. Several people in the group thought the question had not been adequately answered, and I got the impression that they were equating Church with worship or liturgy. I see the Church in the universal sense, much more than just recitations from the prayer book or readings from the Bible.

I am a skeptic by nature, and have reservations about the church as an institution, particularly the Catholic church. So I am not a regular church-goer. I am not anti-religious (if I were, I might be posting to the atheist's board), and really want to learn more.

In my mind, I have never NOT been a Christian. So my answer to the question is, yes, you can be a Christian without going to church, as the church as so much more than just a gathering on Wednesday nights or Saturday or Sunday mornings.

My husband's response was that this is something between me and God.
Just so you don't get the wrong idea, he goes to worship services every Sunday, and also takes the grandchildren. My daughter had a few bad experiences with some of the members of our church, and has chosen not to attend. But she does read the Bible, and is very happy to have her children attend church, as she feels a Christian upbringing is very important.

Thanks for your help,
Peg

Something else that is also confusing: when do you use the word Church and when do you use the word church? When to capitalize?


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Welcome to CF, Peg!

Based on the content of your post, may i recommend you take a look at our "Christian Fools FAQ," which you should see a link to at the top of this page. I think you might find some interesting reading there.

I think you generally have the right idea. My answer to your main question is no, you do not have to go to church to be a Christian. But i think my reasoning is a little different than yours. I say the answer is "no" because my definition of what a "Christian" is has nothing at all to do with the church. I consider someone a Christian if he has a relationship with God through Christ. I place no limits on how that may come about in his life. For many people, it did happen at some point when they were in church. For some, it came about when a friend was talking to them. For others, it came about when reading the Bible. For still others, it came about through some God-given revelation or epiphany.

Going to church may be a contributing factor, but it is not the foundation of a person's Christianity.

The "Church" can be defined as the entire body of believers on earth. But a church is comprised of a local body of believers who come together on a regular basis to fellowship, learn, and worship God. All Christians are technically part of the Church; not all are part of a church. I personally believe all should be.

Being part of a church is part of what God calls us to when we choose to become disciples of Christ. We should participate in regular fellowship with other Christians, and worship God corporately in the presence of other believers. I think this is a fundamental part of any Christian's growth in his faith.

If you or members of your family have any issues with the church you've been going to, you may want to visit around and find one you're more comfortable with. There is a section in the FAQ on how to find the right church for you.

Best of luck, and again, welcome to CF.

Bonhoeffer
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The word church comes from the word Ekklesia –its meaning -a gathering of citizens called out from their homes into some public place, an assembly.

The Church of God are the called out ones. Called out from the world to obedience to God. The word church in the New Testament refers to the people who were called to Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit.
The New Testament Church met in homes and fields and other gathering places.

No one is born a Christian. You become a Christian by submitting to the leadership and calling of the Holy Spirit, committing your life to obedience to God, and accepting God's gift of forgiveness for your faults (sin).

Being a Christian means believing completely that Jesus is God come to earth and that He died to pay the penalty for your sin, rose from the grave demonstrating His power over death, ascended back to Heaven and He is coming again to reign in power and majesty.

Not meaning to over simplify becoming a Christian. If you are not sure and the sincere desire of your heart is to follow Jesus, it can be as easy as praying:
Lord Jesus I need you, I come to you and trust you alone for forgiveness of my sin. I turn my life over to you and submit to the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Thank you for forgiving me of my sin and giving me eternal life with you in heaven. Make me the kind of person you want me to be.
In Jesus Name Amen.


You do not need to go to a 'church' to be a Christian. However God commanded us not to forsake assembling together. God's will for His children is to come together to worship, teach, train, and to help meet each others needs. Jesus gave us the command to go and share His Gospel. By belonging to and cooperating with a congregation in support of ministry we are obedient to that command.

Christians are the 'Body of Christ', and as a body we function better working together than as separate individuals.

Jesus encouraged us to come together to pray when He told us that where two or more are together praying He will be there.

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My husband's response was that this is something between me and God.
Just so you don't get the wrong idea, he goes to worship services every Sunday, and also takes the grandchildren. My daughter had a few bad experiences with some of the members of our church, and has chosen not to attend. But she does read the Bible, and is very happy to have her children attend church, as she feels a Christian upbringing is very important.

Thanks for your help,
Peg



Hi Peg,

The Church are the people who accept Jesus and play by his rules. The church is a building where the Church go to worship him together. Why together? Because He said "where two or more are gathered together in my name"..... and it is a convenient way of keeping the Sabbath holy.
We learn in church, that has always been part of the coming together, we pray, we offer sacrifice and we give thanks. We find it hard to love our neighbour if we don't know them and their problems as they arise. On a larger scale, we get together to love our neighbours collectively.

There you go, some thoughts, others will add to them.

Frindon


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You have received some good answers! The church is where 2 or more are gathered together in HIS NAME. This is what I think was meant when "the leader said that the answer to this question is: you are the church". You do not go to church, the church gathers together! Whether you gather at a Cathedral or a local park that is where the church is if you gather together in HIS NAME.

"In my mind, I have never NOT been a Christian. " It does not matter what you think in your own mind. You are not a Christian because you say you are you are a Christian when HE says you are. You can know if you are a Christian but no one is born a Christian you must be reborn a Christian.

John 3:4-6 Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.

Do you belong to Christ?

Romans 8:9 You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.

You can know!

Romans 8:14 because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.

1 John 3:23-25 Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.

1 John 4:12-14 We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit

No matter how many prayers were prayed, no matter how many good deeds you have done, no matter how many times you were baptized, no matter what you think ....
" if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ."

Acts 5:32 God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. 33 We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him."

Luke 11:12-14 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"

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Peg,

First, the presentation in your class might have been a bit misleading if it gave the impression that each individual is church, which is the impression that I'm getting from your post. Rather, the church is the collective body of all believers -- that is, of all those who have come or who will come to salvation, both in heaven and on earth. The church also is the bride of Christ -- a constant theme in the book of Revelation, but also foretold by the prophets of the old testament (see, for example, Isaiah 62:5) and, of course, in the Song of Songs (which is a love poem in which the Lord himself is the bridegroom and Israel is the bride). The church thus is not coterminous with any one denomination, but it is visible wherever two or three gather in the Lord.

I am a skeptic by nature, and have reservations about the church as an institution, particularly the Catholic church. So I am not a regular church-goer. I am not anti-religious (if I were, I might be posting to the atheist's board), and really want to learn more.

Every denomination has its problems, issues, etc., and the Catholic Church is no exception. Nonetheless, the Catholic Church has been blessed by much excellent scholarship over the years so her theological teachings are certainly worthy of study. The Second Vatican Council issued an excellent theological treatise on the Church, Lumen Gentium (http://www.rc.net/rcchurch/vatican2/lumen.gen), that's laced with footnotes citing relevant scripture. I would invite you to study it carefully. If a printed copy would be more convenient than on-line access, you can order it from the Daughters of St. Paul (http://www.pauline.org) very economically.

It's also important to remember that God does not intend for the Christian life is not intended to be lived alone, in isolation from other believers. There's a brief, but excellent, article on this subject (http://www.cired.org/faith/go.html) along with articles on many other theological topics, on the web site of the Assyrian Church (http://www.cired.org) -- which, BTW, is a fascinating body if you read about its history because it evolved in Persia, where it was isolated geopolitically from most of the rest of the Christian world for most of the first 1500 years of Chrisendom. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (http://www.billygraham.org) also stresses the importance of gathering with other Christians on a regular basis for fellowship, stdy, ministry, and prayer.

Something else that is also confusing: when do you use the word Church and when do you use the word church? When to capitalize?

The rules of English grammar require capitalization of proper nouns but not of common nouns, except in titles where all nouns are capitalized. The word "church" is a common noun, and therefore not capitalized, unless it is part of a proper name (Faith Baptist Church, Roman Catholic Church, Boston Church of Christ, etc.) or a title of a book or magazine (The Church in the Modern World), an article ("The Church's New Policy on Marriage"), a poem or a hymn ("The Church's One Foundation"), etc.

Norm.


Norm.
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