Christians Who Quit Church

The “Great Apostasy” has begun
(referenced in 2 Thessalonians 2:3;
1 Timothy 4:1*), I believe. America is
plum-full of people who claim to be
Christian but do not attend church. Yes,
they believe Jesus is their Lord and Savior,
but do not attend His church. Is there anything
wrong with this?

Most people have their good reasons (see blog Top Excuses)
for not going to church. But did Jesus have this in mind when
He said, “...on this rock I will build my church...”? (Matthew 16:18).

Amazingly enough, most Christians who don’t go to church actually used to attend church—but stopped! There are a myriad of reasons for this. Most common is they feel they were hurt by the church. Jesus anticipated this too. He describes how we are to deal with those who hurt us (example Matthew 18). [Hint: leaving church isn’t one of them]

Often, seasoned Christians who quit attending church will feel the church doesn’t feed them, or they prefer to do their own para-church ministry and visit multiple churches (but actually don’t), or they have a unique belief on what church should be. The root of this is usually pride and rebellion when you ‘get right down to it’. They want to run the show. They cannot submit to God-ordained leadership (more on this below) and paradoxically, don’t have the desire to go through the sacrifice of planting a church or enduring the pains of leadership.

Apostasy is defined as: a standing off from, a defection, to stand off, revolt; An abandonment of what one has voluntarily professed; a total desertion of departure from one's faith, principles, or party; esp., the renunciation of a religious faith. (Websters 1913)

The New Testament is all about Jesus and the Church. Every book after the gospels has something to say about church. Apostles planting churches. Discipline in churches. Doctrine in churches. Behavior in churches. Commendations and warnings to churches. Leadership in churches. The translation of the church. Jesus as the head of the church. Jesus dictated letters to the Apostle Paul for seven of the churches. To say that Jesus doesn’t care if we go to church is ludicrous.

I know that it is often said and quoted from Hebrews 10:23-25, “
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” And I believe this is very valid. But it is far from exhaustive on why a Christian should attend church.

In Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus where he is exhorting about the Unity of the Spirit, he says that Jesus gave the church a variety of leaders. They were called by Him, not by the will of man. Their purpose was to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. Their place of operation was the local church. Success was defined as the whole body (local church) be fitted tightly together and in the long run, growing in size as godly love increases. To say that Jesus doesn’t care if we attend church is to completely shun this sacrificial calling on these leaders. Would Jesus waste time doing this if He didn’t care about the local church?

And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies,according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:11-16).

It is God who calls an apostle or church planter to start a local church. He knits the body together. Evangelists will share the gospel and draw people into fellowship at the local church. Prophets will speak the Word of God as led by the Holy Spirit, edifying those who attend. Pastor-Teachers will shepherd the individual believers, the body as a whole, and will teach the Bible faithfully. Members are to submit to them and to one-another.

“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you” (Hebrews 13:17).

A local church is a beautiful organism. It can be challenging at times and it is composed of people with issues and problems just like yours and mine. But it is the shadow of the real thing in Heaven.

At the end of our worship service the question should not be whether we thought the service was good, but whether we thought God was pleased.


2 Thessalonians 2:3; 1 Timothy 4:1
  • Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,
  • But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,