Do I have to go to church in order to be a Christian?
Q: I know you often tell people they need to go to church, but I had a bad experience with the church I grew up in, and I just can't face trying to find another one. Do I have to go to church in order to be a Christian? -- Mrs. A.McD.
A: Only one thing is necessary in God's eyes for us to become a Christian -- and that is our personal faith and trust in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. The Bible says, "If you declare with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9).
Don't misunderstand me, however; God doesn't want us to stand still in our faith. Instead, God's will is for us to grow stronger in our faith -- and one of the most important ways this happens is through our fellowship with other believers. If we remain isolated, we'll never hear God's Word preached and taught, and we'll never have opportunities to serve others in the name of Christ. No wonder the Bible tells us to "consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together ... but encouraging one another" (Hebrews 10:24-25).
No church is perfect, of course, and I'm sorry you had a bad experience in your childhood church. But don't assume all churches are like this -- for they aren't! Begin by making sure of your personal commitment to Jesus Christ; if you have never given yourself to Him, invite Him to come into your life today.
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Then ask Him to give you a desire to grow in your faith, and then to lead you to a church that's right for you. Remember: God is even more concerned about your spiritual growth than you are.
(Send your queries to "My Answer," c/o Billy Graham, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201; call 1-(877) 2-GRAHAM, or visit the Web site for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association: www.billygraham.org.)(c)2018 BILLY GRAHAM DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.