What if I don't need the kind of fellowship, gathering, community, assembly, or church you're talking about?

“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”  Hebrews 10:25 NLT

How many times have you heard this verse used to exhort someone to stop skipping church?  Not only is it a poor example of biblical interpretation and application, but also a weighty and religious yoke to place on the backs of disciples of Jesus.

It is my proposition that every mark of the church can be found and experienced outside of the local church, if one defines the local church as “a place.”

Church is not where the body meets, it’s how the body acts


Just one question for today:

Can a true believer in Jesus get everything they need to be a thriving member of His church without ever stepping into a church?  Why or why not? 





0 thoughts on “What if I don't need the kind of fellowship, gathering, community, assembly, or church you're talking about?

  1. Tom says:

    Since I’m sure I don’t have a concrete answer….I’ll go with the fact that I don’t ever “step into” a church anymore. I’ve finally got it through my thick skull that the church is in the relationships I share with other believers, edifying each of them and supporting one another. With that said, I’d have to say in the sense of your question….NO!

  2. Dori says:

    Church is where it acts! Love it. Was just trying to articulate my intolerance and lack of appetite for any fellowship gathering in which followers are not focused or expressing the risen acting Jesus. That sums it up for me!!!
    It’s more satisfying to be with unbelievers and be listening for an opportunity to share Jesus than to be with Christians that don’t.
    I’m sure I need a better outlook on it but that is honestly where My deepest frustrations rumble, like I’m in a smothering suck the life out of me place!!!!!

  3. Jonathan says:

    “Can a true believer in Jesus get everything they need to be a thriving member of His church without ever stepping into a church? Why or why not?”

    Many of us know that the word translated “church” in our New Testaments can also be translated “the assembly”, “the assembled ones”, or “the called out ones”. It is also true that the overwhelming number of times this word shows up in the NT, it is in the local sense (as in a local assembly of believers).

    Yes, we do not need to assemble in a particular type of building or location. But, by definition (and usage and context), if there is no assembly, there is no church.

    So, no.

  4. Marc Winter says:

    Wow, People posting here, get it!

    Church by current definition as expressed in the everyday vernacular of common people, is a building where religious clergymen conduct religious services.

    New flash! Jesus is not there! At least He is there no more there than He is in the hospital, local pub, jail house, or brothel.

    We the Ekklesia of Christ, are being build together by the Lord Himself via the Holy Spirit, as a habitation where Jesus continues His mission today. Heal the sick, set the captives free, and proclaim the actual authentic Good News of the arrival of the spiritual kingdom of God.

    The news is resounding around the world today, Church was never God’s idea, never was, never will be.


    • Tom says:

      Amen, Marc! Out of all the comments posted here, yours is practically the only one that cuts through all the clutter and exposes the fallacy of the original question and its premise. Church IS a place, and it always has been a place—a building where Christians go to worship God (as if God dwells in buildings made with human hands, which He doesn’t).

      • Marc Winter says:

        Tom, Praise the Lord! The representation of God controlled by men in a building, is no representation at all. Therefore, God in church, is a man made myth. Men controlled by God via His Holy Spirit is the authentic Kingdom of God. Rejoice, the Kingdom of God is with men!

  5. David Woods says:

    I got more stepping out of my church than I ever got “in it”.

    I think the persecuted Christian in Iran or Pakistan or Cuba who is spending years in jail without a Bible and still keeping the faith, in fact, coming out a stronger Christian than he was when going in could answer this question much better than the average American “church-goer”. In fact, ask Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani if his years in jail, away from his church family, made him any weaker of a Christian or not.

    A read of Richard Wurmbrand’s book “Tortured for Christ” or a monthly subscription to the Voice of the Martyrs newsletter can really shed some light on this subject for anyone who thinks “going to” church (as opposed to “being”the church) is necessary for spiritual growth. Helpful? Maybe…for some. Necessary….not even close!

    • Absolutely right, David.

      For more on persecuted lives listen to some of Julia Fisher’s interviews, they’re awesome and should make us all wonder – what does it mean to be a believer? How easy it is for us to meet or not as we choose.


      I’m glad Miguel posted this article. Church is not about meeting (if that is all we do), it’s about love. Love means community but it also means caring and action. Who am I to love? Ah yes, the Father, my brothers and sisters in Christ, my neighbours and my enemies. It’s a big ask, but a necessary one for us all. It’s what Jesus expects of us.

  6. All that church ought to be about, in the traditional setting, can be found in other venues. Often these other expressions can be as much or more “Church” than what we unquestionably accept. The church is the people of God, a “spiritual family on a mission” (Neil Cole).

  7. Tom Schultz says:

    Wow, a clean sweep in the comments…emphatically. Your exegesis is deliberately questionable by jumping directly to ‘church’ when it says ‘meeting together’. Besides, the use of ‘neglect’ implies a busyness or gradual change of focus that causes a change…not imprisonment or isolation in a far-off land…but then I’m sure you know that! The real focus of the verse is on ‘encouraging one another’ so, if you are neglecting settings where that happens for you, then you are the one being targeted by the advice/warning.

  8. Victoria says:

    I choose to go to church because I grew up in an abusive home and my home church is my family. I enjoy going every Sunday to worship the Jesus who set me free with the ones who know my testimony. People talk about feeling condemned when they walk into God’s church but why are you feeling that way? The fear of man’s judgement falls on you. If you think that is Jesus you are wrong. Think of the dad in the bible and the son coming home thinking he is about to get reamed for all he done and dad was there with a robe thrilled his son had returned! That is what Jesus does with us. If whatever your seeking in the church is not there and you know the loving Jesus I do be “Christ like” and step up so we can all be the church we read about in Acts.

  9. Can a true believer in Jesus get everything they need to be a thriving member of His church without ever stepping into a church? Why or why not?

    Of course we can. First we need to realize that most people think of church as a place to go on Sunday morning and listen to someone tell us what God is saying. This of course, is not what Christ intended for His people. Church, in the true sense of the word, are the people who are saved by grace. Church is the ekklesia or called out ones. Christ is building His Church with living stones, not brick and mortar. We enjoy fellowship every time we meet with another Christian or two. No particular place, no particular time, no set program. We as disciples of Christ are filled with His Spirit and we need no man to teach us. Our head is Jesus, not the pastor. We are all brothers and sisters and equals in the Lord. I know there are a lot of Christian people who still attend organized meetings and we need to remember they are our brothers and sisters too. In Christ, we are all equals and are to have love for one another. Whether we are involved in an organized religious organization, or living for God outside the box, it’s time we stop playing the religious games of going to church and start functioning as, and being the Church. Only when we make Christ our head and give Him the preeminence and begin to truly love one another, will we see a difference in our world.

    • Marc Winter says:

      Yes, the Holy Spirit is leading so many these days in new ways. This is truly a case of, old wine skins cannot contain the New Wine. Indeed many of our brothers and sisters are still in the old skins and are due to come out soon.

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