Why go to church IF I don’t have to go?

Since I stopped preaching on June 11, 2006, and have been free to “go to church” or not go to “church” on Sunday, it has caused me to ask questions that I’ve asked before. The difference as I ask them this time is that I actually am open to consider answers that are not linked to the ongoing survival of my ministry. In other words, the answers aren’t influenced by my need for the church to grow and thrive so that I will continue to get paid.[1]

This newly experienced freedom from going to church because I have to be there (because I am the pastor) has been revolutionary. I’m truly free to experience belonging to a church family in ways that I’ve failed to comprehend in the past. And of course, the question: “Why go to church if I don’t have to go?” has refreshing answers for me:

  1. I go to “church” (our gathering together with other believers on Sunday mornings) to authentically worship Jesus corporately (with brothers/sisters in Jesus). I love worshipping Jesus with my friends in my church family. I love being led into His presence and to give honor and praise to Him because He is worthy and holy and exalted. Sometimes I sing too loud or off-key or I clap off-rhythm (that’s what my children tell me), but worship is the expression of my heart toward the greatness of God. That’s why I want to meet together with Christians each week.
  2. I go to “church” (remember meaning above) to be reminded of what Jesus did on the cross to pay the penalty for my sins. Every time we gather, our prayers, our worship, the teaching, the Scriptures, celebrating the Lord’s Table and other expressions of our faith remind me of the cross and my salvation. Since Jesus came to be the atoning sacrifice for sin, gathering together and remembering the cross binds us together as believers and fills us with gratitude. Remembering the cross keeps us focused on Jesus’ mission.
  3. I go to “church” to learn how to better follow Jesus. Being taught from the Scriptures and hearing stories of other believers who have been transformed both encourage me in my spiritual journey. Seeing others who trust and obey and love Jesus gives me hope and inspires me to trust and obey and love Jesus more.
  4. I go to “church” to submit myself to Jesus and His mission in the world. I need to be shown repeatedly how I can engage with unbelievers and introduce them to faith in Jesus. Sometimes I need to be told that it’s not all about me. Being trained together as missionaries in our neighborhoods and workplaces enables us to better accomplish His mission.
  5. I go to “church” to encourage other Christians. I’m there to love them, pray with them, listen and care for them, bless them and even challenge them as they follow Jesus, too. I’ve seen it and experienced and I know I need it myself. Being together enables us to help each other become more like Jesus

So, why do you “go to church”?

[1] Please don’t be tempted to question my motivation for starting a church and being a pastor – I’m not motivated by the money. However, money does have more influence than I think that it should in determining the way we do ministry. For example, when we considered doing church in homes one weekend instead of meeting on our campus, one of the obstacles that needed to be addressed was how to collect the offering. This was not because we meet on Sundays to collect funds, but rather because we realize that to support our staff and facilities requires income. What would happen if we actually weren’t dependant on income for our church to function? That may be a topic for another blog.



Dave DeVries

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Dr. Dave DeVries is a coach, trainer, author and founder of Missional Challenge. He is passionate about coaching and training church planters and missional leaders. With 30+ years of church planting and leadership development experience, Dave brings his passion and encouragement to those he trains and coaches.
3 replies
  1. Bob Carder
    Bob Carder says:

    I say “why go to church” anyway. I pastored for more than 23 years in effective “turn around” churches and I am still ordained. We had great success, and growth in numbers and income and buidings but as always when the churches reached a certain level around 600 they begin to think they were healthy and in every case they gradually reverted back to their original self consuming DNA. You really don’t want examples here.

    I stopped “going to Church” and I am committed to be being the Church with the Church. Our new Church here in St. Louis is a Church equipped to serve the Great Commission purposes while meeting in small groups every week and for corporate gatherings as the Church twice a month. We never “go to church” we go meetings or gatherings or homes. Our Christ followers send in their money or give it when we gather together but our people do tithe for the mission of making disciples and pouring resources into th elives of people who need to see Jesus at work in their lives.

    I love not “going to church” because I now am able to be the Church with others in the Church family and we gather in smaller and larger settings as a bi-product of being the Church.

    I propose that we turn it upside down and see what happens. Simply put: Let’s get “being the Church” right before we push the thing that has corrupted us.

    The scarey part is that if you do as I say it will not be without persecution and sacrifice. The exciting part is that for those who make the switch to “Being” over “Going” incredible freedom and blessing will follow.

  2. Miguel
    Miguel says:

    This is a great post. I find myself in a similar place right now. After serving as a pastor on staff at a church for 5 years, serving as a missionary in Mexico for 2 years, the Lord has called us to return to Los Angeles. I will be in a place where because I don’t have to go to church, I can focus on being the church with other believers, both in a ‘traditional church’ setting and out.

    I remember being on staff and leaving for my vacation, only to return to receive the impression that things had collapsed in my absence. How sad that any church should center around it’s pastors and never learn to be the Body of Christ to one another.

    I, too, am so excited to re-learn what it means for me, as a Christian man, to impact my community with the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ, free from any church obligation or alligence. Amen and Amen.

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