Do you think it's a sin not to go to church?


Hi! I am 15 years old. I want to thank you for saving my soul! I accepted Jesus into my heart about two years ago and have been talking to him as a friend, a brother, a Savior and my Lord ever since.  However, I have found myself struggling with lust, greed and other things. Jesus Christ is my Savior and he has helped me through these times. I do not go to church simply because the churches around here are very "bland" in helping people. They are more interested in making it fun than being about learning. However, I think that Catholicism isn't the right idea either. I was praying to Jesus asking him to guide me on certain questions and I was searching the Internet and your site came up. It answers all of my questions and gives logical explanations. If the La Vista church was around here I would definitely be attending all services. I only have one question. Do you think it's a sin not to go to church? I do read the Bible and I do pray and talk to Jesus and I do worship God. What do you think? But overall I just want to say you have honestly and genuinely helped a person in need. I hope you find joy in this fact! Thanks!

By the way, I'm giving serious thought to becoming a preacher to speak the word of God to people in need.


Yes, your note does bring me joy. I'm always glad to hear that the efforts put into preaching God's word bears fruit for Him.

In answering your question, we first must address what God says about the matter. Whether your or I or the man down the street wants to attend service is a mute point if God says attendance is important.

"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 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" (Hebrews 10:23-25).

Clearly there is something to be gained from assembling with the saints that can't be found worshiping on your own. In fact, each time the New Testament speaks of the church, it is talking about an assembly. The English word "church" translates the Greek word ekklesia, which is a word that means an assembly or even a mob. One person, by himself, does not constitute an assembly. It would take multiple people. "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them" (Matthew 18:20).

The primary purpose of gathering is for individual Christians to stir each up other to improve. One person on his own will have up and down days, but a group of people can help shoulder loads. "Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken" (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12). One thing that happens when people who are friends gather together is that they sharpen each other's thinking. I might have some ideas, but how do I improve without discussing them with another and they sharing their thoughts with me? "As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend" (Proverbs 27:17).

There are also some aspects of worship that cannot be done alone. For example, a purpose of singing is to teach your fellow brethren while you give praise to God. "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord" (Colossians 3:16). This command cannot be fulfilled by yourself. Another example is the partaking of the Lord's Supper. "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread" (I Corinthians 10:16-17). The reason the Lord's Supper is sometimes called the Communion is because of this verse. "Communion" means "sharing." You cannot share when you are by yourself (try it with your toys sometime -- it doesn't work). That is why you find statements like, "How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification" (I Corinthians 14:26).

As to where you attend, you should be choosy about your selection. You want a place which will help you grow and where the people there are striving to follow God's directions and will push you in the same direction. You are correct that a place that is mostly interested in fun and games isn't going to be ideal. The people there are worldly minded, whether they realize it or not. And a place that is not dedicated to following God isn't going to manage to find the true path to heaven. "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it" (Matthew 7:13-14).

Keep in mind as well that what you get out of life is strongly dependent on what you put into it. The subjects you learn best in school are those that you enjoy the most and spend the most time learning. It is no different in church. If you put in little or no effort and spend all your time looking for faults, you find any congregation to be boring and no good. But if you are excited, put in effort to improve yourself and it spills over to helping others also to improve, then you will find yourself and those around you getting excited about the Lord's work. It is an application of, "To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled. They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work" (Titus 1:15-16).

I'm sure La Vista would love to have you as a member, but since that may not be practical at the moment, let me know where you are and I'll see if I can't find a good, solid congregation in your area. I'm thrilled that you have a passion to teach others. The best thing you can do is learn all you can about God's word. You can't teach others until you know the subject well and have put those teachings into practice in your own life. "For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil" (Hebrews 12:12-14).

And keep in mind that if you want to come and learn here, you are welcome anytime, even if it is only for a week or two's vacation or over a summer.