Is church really that important? Billy Graham received many variations of this question over the years. Below are 4 of his responses to common concerns about church.
Q: Do I have to go to church to be a Christian?
A: Only one thing is necessary in God’s eyes for us to become a Christian -and that is our personal faith and trust in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour. The Bible says, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).
Don’t misunderstand me, however; God doesn’t want us to stand still in our faith. Instead, God’s will is for us to grow stronger in our faith—and one of the most important ways this happens is through our fellowship with other believers.
If we remain isolated, we’ll never hear God’s Word preached and taught, and we’ll never have opportunities to serve others in the name of Christ. …
Ask [God] to give you a desire to grow in your faith, and then to lead you to a church that’s right for you. Remember: God is even more concerned about your spiritual growth than you are.
Q: I’ve given up on church. The last church I attended had so many divisions and conflicts in it that I vowed I’d never go to church again.
A: No one likes to find themselves in the middle of a church conflict. The only one who really delights in a church fight is the devil!
But this unfortunate experience has caused you to conclude wrongly that all churches must be like this one. That isn’t true - not at all.
Admittedly, no church is perfect; as someone once said, if you ever find a perfect church, it’ll stop being perfect the moment you join it! But when Christ is at the centre of a church’s life, it will be marked by harmony and love. The Bible says, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace” (Colossians 3:15).
Remember: When we come to Jesus Christ, we don’t only become connected to Him (although that is an important truth). We also become connected to each other—to all those who have put their faith and trust in Him. We belong to them and they belong to us—and we need each other. The Bible says, “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24).
Ask God to lead you to a church where Christ is preached and taught, and where people are seeking to live for Him. Not only will you find peace and friendship there, but it will provide you with spiritual nourishment for your soul.
Q: I’m very busy during the week and I need my weekends to relax. And anyway, I can feel God’s presence hiking in the woods as much as in some churches.
A: We all need rest and renewal; at times, even Jesus felt the need to get away from the pressures He faced. On one occasion, the Bible says, Jesus told His disciples to “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31).
But we also need times of spiritual renewal, times when we turn our hearts and minds toward God, and seek His will for our lives. And that’s what you’re missing in your life.
Perhaps you’re successful in your career; you also may be enjoying the life you’ve carved out for yourself and your family. But whether you realize it or not, something is missing in your life, and that “something” is God. …
Once you know Christ, you’ll actually want to grow stronger in your faith and be with other believers. Not only will you help your family, but you’ll also discover an even greater joy—the joy of being part of God’s family forever.
Q: We recently moved and I suppose we ought to get involved in a local church, but I’m not sure it’s worth the effort. Our previous ones didn’t do much for us.
A: I’m sorry you haven’t had a positive church experience—but I hope this won’t keep you from seeking one in the future. Churches (like people) differ from each other, and I strongly encourage you to seek out the one that God has for you.
Have you ever asked yourself what your ideal church would be? In other words, what should you be looking for in a church? I don’t know how you’d answer this; perhaps you want one that’s friendly, or has an enjoyable worship service, or has activities for your children. Or perhaps you’ll be looking for a church that’s involved in service projects in your community.
These certainly may have their place—but the most important question you need to ask is this: Will my family and I grow spiritually in this church? Will we learn from the Bible about God and His will for our lives? Will we draw closer to God, and will we discover what it means to be united with other believers?
The Bible says, “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom” (Colossians 3:16).
Perhaps your real problem, however, is that you’ve been content to leave God on the side lines of your life. Don’t leave Him there any longer, but ask Jesus Christ to come into your life today-and He will. The Bible says, “Come near to God and he will come near to you” (James 4:8).