Does going to church make you a Christian? No, but after becoming a Christian the Bible gives clear instructions to go to church. Many people believe that the church building is the church. No. That is the name we use to represent the place where the church (Chrisitans) gather together. The building is simply a building.
1. "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." (Hebrews 10:23-25 (NASB) The writer of Hebrews is stating that we are to assemble together as Christians. Obviously, he did not use the term "church" because the terminology changed over the years. Today, we refer to the assemblying together as church. We are not to forsake (decide to not attend) the gathering of the saints (church).
Once again, does going to church make you a Christian? No. Is it expected after you become a Christian? Yes.
2." Gathering of the saints" does not mean to simply have Christians come and hang-out in the same location. It is meant as a time to encourage each other, to learn more of God's Word and fellowship. By the way, someone needs to teach at the gathering...
"How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?" (Romans 10:14, NASB)
I have heard of many gatherings where people place their opinions of what the Bible says onto others listening. The problem is that opinions are just that, "Opinions." We need to hear what God says and obey His word. In the Book of Job, we read that Job had a few friends who had plenty of opinions and thoughts on what God was doing to Job. However, God eventually chastised them for misrepresenting Him. The preacher is CALLED by God to preach and lead the believers. The preacher is the messenger to the people. Remember also, that there are many other roles within the church body. Everyone is not the preacher, but everyone has a role (or gift) given to them that is important to the body of Christ. "And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues." (1 Corinthians 12:28 NASB)
3. The Apostles Paul and Peter are both known for establishing churches. Why would they establish such a thing if no one was expected to attend and participate? One of the greatest works of the first believers was to go out and establish places that people could be taught the Gospel of Jesus. The Book of Acts,written by Luke, gives several examples, as in Paul's writings, in which he wrote many of his letters to the churches that he helped establish. The Apostles were well aware of the benefit of the assembling of the church body.
4. Who benefits by Christians not gathering together? Satan. He would love it if none of us joined together in praise, worship, encouragement and discipleship. God, on the other hand, would not benefit. God is not expecting us to be the Lone Ranger in this world. He wants us to share the responsibilities of spreading the Gospel. This is evident in the illustrations of the "Body of Christ", "Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it" (1 Corinthians 12:27, NASB).
We are all part of the body. The body does not work seperately, it works together as one. The church is the body of believers working together for the glory of God.
I have witnessed many people claiming that they do not need to attend church to be a Christian. Technically, they may be correct; but in reality, it is spiritual suicide.
I have a friend that cannot attend church due to her age and physical condition. It is obvious that she is a believer and she is awaiting that day to go to Heaven to be with the Father. She is truly saddened that she does not get to go and worship with other Christians. God sees her heart and knows that she is not forsaking the gathering together - for her it is literally impossible.
God sees where we are in our relationship with Him. If we are truly wanting to serve Him and reach out to the lost, why would we not want to meet with many other Christians and together reach the lost with the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
One of the most popular excuses for not attending church is due to the fact that their are so many hypocrites, people pretending to be Christians. My dad actually answers this one pretty well, "There are hypocrites at work and we still go to work." No where in this world is it going to be perfect, but we can do our part to continue to reflect the true light of Jesus to the world.