Why go to Church? Can’t you be a Christian at Home?

The lack or presence of church interaction is not the defining parameter of our salvation. Albeit the abstinence from regular fellowship with fellow Christians doesn’t render one unsaved or an apostate, it is symptomatic of a less than ideal situation.

This article originally appeared in 'EGM Times Jan-Feb 2023' edition of Confident Answers.

In more ways than one, this article is one of the easiest to answer in our column here. The prime reason being the previous edition of EGM Times covering in considerable depth, girded by personal testimony and Scriptural backing, the topic of the ‘Church’. And for that reason I invite Gideon and the readers to read the previous edition with utmost fervour.

Allow me to answer Gideon’s questions, which are by no means an isolated instance in the history of questions raised by believers, from the last to the first. You can be a Christian at home, just as you can be a Christian in a swimming pool. The identity of being a Christian is dependent on and brought to effect by our personal relation with God - our confession and submission to the saving Lordship of the risen Christ. To attend church is to partake in social interaction with believers in close proximity (or digital proximity, lest I leave out post-Covid church attendance). The lack or presence of such interaction is not the defining parameter of our salvation; we are saved by grace through the faith we place in God and not the gathering of believers. Albeit the abstinence from regular fellowship with fellow Christians doesn’t render one unsaved or an apostate, it is symptomatic of a less than ideal situation. But what is the ideal situation and why is it ideal?

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A survey of the starting themes of the articles in the previous edition betrays a coincidental consensus between the first two full-length articles: something is wrong with the church, so much so that it warrants us to question the necessity of participation. We have to take effort to disentangle our negative individual experiences with specific church gatherings before we evaluate the need for church attendance on the basis of Scripture. While such hurtful experiences, to which we are no strangers, can in fact awaken us to reforms needed in the local or universal church, they cannot justify us making them the basis for our abstinence. Similarly, we also need to identify whether our probing of alternative ways of Christian living, devoid of church attendance, is driven by a form of social rebellion, one wherein we want to live as we please without having to concern ourselves with the thoughts, remarks, and correction from fellow believers. If so, then such explorations are driven by deep-seated notions of Christian living contrary to the mindset we must pursue as Paul espoused in Romans 8:9, 13.

We inherently acknowledge that church attendance is something a Christian is expected to do. Even if one rejects acknowledging this, he/she might concede that an atheist regularly attending church and partaking in church responsibilities is bizarre. That is because we don’t expect non-Christians to do so. What gave way to the formation of this expectation? Obviously it is the time honoured practice of the Christian community for millennia. But what could’ve prompted them to initiate such a practice and then retain it? Does Scripture give the grounding? If so, then Scripture’s mandate certainly serves as the basis for discerning whether church attendance matters to Christians. Now let’s dive into the first question.

Hebrews 10:25 is the clearest call to partake in the gathering of believers. Verses 24 and 25 present three actions for the believers to complete: spur (vs 24), meet (vs 25) and encourage (vs 25). While we prima facie concede the importance of the first and the last, it becomes lucid that the act of meeting is connected to the first and last call to action. Scripture is stressing the role meeting together has in being the catalyst for fellow believers to heal, uplift and build each other up. This is precisely why Acts references the early church meeting together in common places (Temple) and private settings (homes). So we see that there is considerable persuasion from the Scriptures by means of mentioning the practice of the early church and calling for gathering. The call to action in Galatians 5:13 and Colossians 3:16 is easily served through the gathering of the believers. The church, thereby, fulfils her role as the living body of Christ and not the mere amalgamation of like-minded people in a building.

In addition to these reasons, there is a significant amount of research done probing the quantifiable impact regular church attendance has on its attendees. Research shows that regular church attendance leads to reduced mortality1, reduced suicide rates among women2, and positive effects on youth psychology3 to name a few research outcomes. There is even research that shows the superior benefit of partaking in religious services in person than over impersonal medium4.

Let me close off with one personal experience of why church attendance matters to me. One Sunday I walked in with a heavy heart. Stressed, worried, questioning and tired with how things were not in control. I found it even difficult to sing along with the choir. But then, a church member seated to my left started singing out loud with all her heart. She isn’t a trained singer. She doesn’t have the best vocal prowess. But she was singing with a full heart, a heart of gratitude. That was my watershed moment for the agony I was in. Her soulful and sincere singing moved powerfully to help me break free and praise God. I proceeded from church like Christian proceeded in The Pilgrim’s Progress - the burden unshackled at the Cross, rolling down the hill, forever to be isolated from the shoulders that once bore it.


  1. Bruce MA, Martins D, Duru K, Beech BM, Sims M, Harawa N, et al. (2017) Church attendance, allostatic load and mortality in middle aged adults. PLoS ONE 12(5): e0177618. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0177618
  2. VanderWeele TJ, Li S, Tsai AC, Kawachi I. Association Between Religious Service Attendance and Lower Suicide Rates Among US Women. JAMA Psychiatry. 2016;73(8):845–851. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2016.1243
  3. Mohanty, M. S. (2021). Effect of church attendance during youth on future psychological capital endowments: the US evidence. Education Economics, 30(2), 129–154. https://doi.org/10.1080/09645292.2021.1951172
  4. Koenig, H. G., George, L. K., Hays, J. C., Larson, D. B., Cohen, H. J., & Blazer, D. G. (1998). The relationship between religious activities and blood pressure in older adults. International journal of psychiatry in medicine, 28(2), 189–213. https://doi.org/10.2190/75JM-J234-5JKN-4DQD