Question 1:  Can I be a Christian without going to church?

Many people say they only need to look up at the night sky or walk on the hills to be aware of God.  There is a favourite saying often displayed in

formal gardens which says, " I am closer to God in a garden than anywhere else on earth".  These sentiments may be true but if you stop there

you will miss the best God has for you.

If you have committed your life to God , then you are born into God's family as a son (Greek word for son, huios, is both male and female),just

like you were born into your natural family.  You are now in a one parent family, with your Heavenly Father your only parent.

God designed the natural family on the same lines as your spiritual family.  As believers He puts you into a local family (a church).  Just as your

earthly father is always your father, whether he is good, bad, near or living far away, or even if you have never known him, you will always be

his child. The same is true for your Heavenly Father; He will always be your Father.  he will never move away from you but you may move a

long way from Him.  If you do, that intimate fellowship between Father and son is broken.  The blessings, comfort and support are withdrawn,

because you have put a block of rebellion between you and Him. He always wants you back with him in fellowship, like the lost sheep, like the

prodigal son.

But He has designed the spiritual family life in the church to be the support each family member needs.  We each take from each other love,

comfort, encouragement etc but we each have to give to the others.  This is the extended spiritual family life as it should be in the church.

So many people these days come into churches from broken natural families and it makes it hard to help create a loving extended spiritual family.

It will not come naturally.  You must decide if this is what God is telling you to do when the Word of God in Hebrews 10:25 says, "not

forsaking the assembling of ourselves together as the manner of some is but exhorting one another.".  If you agree that God is asking you to be

part of a loving extended spiritual family, you will have to consciously make the effort to fulfil all that God is asking.  Once you make the decision,

the execution becomes quite easy although not always plain sailing.

The best illustration I can give of the need to attend church is the story of the minister and an elderly gentleman in his congregation.  The man had

been attending church regularly.  Then something happened that kept him away from church for quite a while.  The minister saw him in the street

from time to time and asked if he would be in church that week.  His answer was always noncommittal and he didn't come.  Finally the minister

went to visit him.  It was winter and he had a coal fire blazing in the grate.  They sat round the hearth, chatted amicably for a while and then the

minister took the fire tongues and took a piece of coal that was glowing red and put it onto the hearth.  it started to go cold and dull.  The old man

protested.  He said, "It's no good there, it's going cold.  Put it back on the fire.".  "No" said the minister, "that piece of coal is like you.  You are

going cold because you are not with the others in our family."

If your attitude is described in the first paragraph, don't let yourself go cold.  Don't miss the best God has for you in His family.