Many people say: 'Going to church doesn't make you a Christian. Just look at the behaviour of some of the people who go there!'
Perhaps consider: Does standing in a garage singing songs about cars make someone a good motor mechanic? No, the good ones take instruction from the master mechanic and put it into practise. And, far from avoiding garages, true mechanics love spending time with other mechanics, learning how to become better at their trade.
The word 'Christian' literally means 'Little Christ', someone whose life is Christ-like. While it is true that church-going is not a requirement for salvation – as this is by faith alone in Jesus – church is the best way to become more Christ-like (what the Bible calls 'sanctification').
For Christians, Jesus is much greater than a master mechanic: He is the King of the Universe and the only way to everlasting life in God's presence. Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no one comes to the Father but by me" (John 14, verse 6). He later added, "Whoever loves me will do what I command" (John chapter 15).
Church is for...
Worship & Learning: Christians love to worship God for who He is and what He has done for us. Church is also a gathering of God's children, a spiritual family who learn from each other on what His Word the Bible says to us. Through one of His Apostles Jesus said this: "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness [i.e. becoming more like Jesus], so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16).
Service: The apostle Paul in the book of Romans emphasises that church is like a physical body with many members, each offering a gift to bring others closer to God. "In Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others", says Romans 12 verse 5.
Inviting others to God: Churches gather for encouragement and training to know God better. Members go out to tell others about God's goodness and patience, inviting them to know His forgiveness before His coming judgement. Jesus said, "Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." And His last commandment was "go and make disciples of all nations... teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you."
While it is true many people have had bad church experiences, remember no church is perfect because no person is perfect. Instead of using it as an excuse not to attend, remember who you are there for – God not men. •