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Do We Have to go to Church to Be Saved?

I understand the discomfort people have with "Church."  This is certainly sad, and a most unfortunate part of our society.

One of the most-often-asked questions I get is, "Do we really have to go to church to be saved?"

My answer, very simply, is "Yes."

But not for the usual reasons.

No, God does not sit "up there" with a score card, determining if you have gone to church enough times to qualify for the Good Place when you die.  Not at all.

The word "Saved" comes from, and etymologically implies, a sense of being whole.  As in complete.  Connected to people.  You cannot be whole if you are not involved in ministry.  You cannot love God, who you do not see, if you do not love people, who you do see.

We live in a sad, ultra-self-indulgent era.  I, me, mine, gimme, gimme, gimme.  The political system is governed not by what is right, but by who wins a popularity contest by promising the most hand-outs.  All of commerce, and the entire consumer-mode of society, are centered on greed and self.

This attitude has infected even our churches.  People are looking for places where they can get "fed," inspired, blessed.  Those churches growing the fastest are those that make no demands or expectations on people.  Anonymous, people can slip into the back of the building, hear a couple of well-performed songs, and a very well-produced message, and sneak away without being noticed.

But, my friends, that is far from being whole.

If you are saved, if you are whole, then you must share your time, talents and treasure with those around you.  It is a small-minded, infantile perspective that only looks to church and ministry for what you can get.  The point, the whole point, is to find where you can give, and make the most difference. 

The Bible talks about salvation.  But it spends much more time talking about ministry and our responsibility one for another.

Unless you have a ministry, you are not whole, and thus, not really saved.

"But I worship God in my own way."  I have universally found that this means the I-me-mine mindset.  Never once have I known anyone who "worships God in their own way" to be involved in any kind of ministry, at all.

Simultaneously, we must find our own ministry.  Whether we sing songs for others, visit the shut-ins, do evangelism, work in a soup kitchen, or a host of other forms of outreach and ministry, we must do everything we can.  Perhaps you run a food co-op, helping the unfortunate to be better able to eat.  This can be a Church, a gathering of the people.  Perhaps you help paint the walls of a church building.  Perhaps you run a website, touching thousands with your witness, life & testimony.  That is, certainly for me, my tiny corner of the Universal Church.

Simply put, the focus of your life needs to move from what you can get to what you can give.  Anyplace where you give to your fellow humans, as long it happens regularly, is touched with holiness, in an attitude that you are more concerned with giving than getting, can be a Church.

It's only the giving that makes you what you are.


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