Is not going to church a sin? The answers are maybe, sometimes, yes and no. Here’s why:
God commands us to go to church and blesses us when we do. But is it a sin to not go to church? It depends on your motivation. If you’re not going to church at all, you’re sinning. But if you skip church one weekend because you’re sick or your child is sick, or your car broke down, or you have to catch a flight at the airport to go home for the holidays, it’s not a sin.
When does missing church become a sin?
People become like those they associate with. If you intentionally choose not to associate with like minded followers of Jesus Christ, you are, by default, becoming like the rest of the world that does not follow Christ. People who choose, either to stop going to church or to never start going, are drifting away from God. They may be drifting away quickly or slowly, but either way, if they’re never around other believers, their love for God is fading.
Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.(Hebrews 10:24-25)
If you choose not to go to church because you feel it’s too much effort, or because you think you don’t have time, or because you believe you don’t know anyone there and would feel uncomfortable, you’re disobeying God, which is a sin.
But if you’re already plugged into a church where you’re growing spiritually by being connected in vibrant relationships with other believers, and happen to miss church one Sunday because of special circumstances, you have not sinned.
Here’s a hypothetical example: Let’s say your parents live two hours away and your dad’s birthday is on a Sunday. You decide you’re going to get up early that Sunday, skip church, and drive to his home to spend the day with him and celebrate his birthday. Is it a sin to not go to church? On the contrary, the bible says, “Honour your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you. (Exodus 20:12)
Through his teachings about the Sabbath day, Jesus shows us that the more important consideration is your inner motivation. The work that Jesus did on the Sabbath day came from his inner motivation to love God and love other people, therefore, the work he did on that day was not a sin.
Occasionally missing church is not a sin, so long as your inner motivation continues to be a desire to worship Jesus Christ and to fellowship, on a regular basis, with other believers.
(photo credit:flickr creative commons, chruch, Silent Shot photo stream)