This answer is yes or no. Why? It depends on what they do and where they are.
Let me point this out first, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” ( Hebrews 10:24–25).
Now, what is the Church?
The advanced English dictionary defines a church as:-
- one of the groups of Christians who have their own beliefs and forms of worship.
- a place for public (especially Christian) worship.
- the body of people who attend or belong to a particular local church.
- a service conducted in a house of worship.
In the New Testament, a church is an ekklesia (in Greek) or assembly of Christians. Literally, “called–out ones”, the idea does not connote a cathedral–like–building but the body of Christians who gather to worship, and devote themselves to scriptures, and prayer ( Acts 2:42).
What is the Universal Church?
The universal Church derives its definition from the baptizing ministry of the Holy Spirit. The key verse on this is 1 Corinthians 12:13, “by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body.” You see from this passage that the church is like the physical manifestation of Christ, i.e., his body.
Other passages which use the same imagery are:
- Romans 12:4–5;
- 1 Corinthians 12:11,18,27.
The point in all of these passages seems to be that anyone who has experienced this baptism is automatically a member of the body of Christ.
Terms used for the Church in the New Testament
The word translated as “church” in the English Bible is ekklesia. This word is the Greek word Kaleo (to call), with the prefix ek (out). Thus, the word means “the called-out ones.” However, the English word “church” does not come from ekklesia but from the word kuriakon, which means “dedicated to the Lord.” This word was commonly used to refer to a holy place or temple. By the time of Jerome’s translation of the New Testament from Greek to Latin, it was customary to use a derivative of kuriakon to translate ekklesia. Therefore, the word church is a poor translation of the word ekklesia since it implies a sacred building or temple.
A more accurate translation would be “assembly” because the term ekklesia was used to refer to a group of people who had been called out to a meeting. It was also used as a synonym for the word synagogue, which also means to “come together,” i.e. a gathering.
Body of Christ
Since believers have been united with Christ through spiritual baptism, they are sometimes corporately referred to as the body of Christ (Romans 12:4–5; 1 Corinthians 12:11,13,18,27; Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 5:30). The idea seems to be that the group of Christians in the world constitute the physical representation of Christ on earth. It is also a metaphor which demonstrates the interdependence of members in the church, while at the same time demonstrating their diversity from one another (Romans 12:4; 1 Corinthians 12:14–17).
The Temple of God
See 1 Corinthians 3:16; Ephesians 2:21–22 and 1 Peter 2:5.
The Jerusalem from above or the Heavenly Jerusalem
See Galatians 4:26 & Hebrews 12:22.
Both of these terms (as well as “temple”) illustrate how the Old Testament notion of the outward sanctuary has been replaced with the literal dwelling of God in his people.
The Bride of Christ or Christ’s Betrothed
These titles refer to the love and loyalty existing between Christ and believers (Ephesians 5:25–32; 2 Corinthians 11:2).
After going through all these definitions and study on the “church”. Then, the church can literally be defined as an assembly of believers. And figuratively as a public place where this assembly gathers to worship.
Now, what is the minimum quorum of this assembly — the church? The minimal quorum of a church is two or three.
“For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” ( Matthew 18:20).
The minimal quorum of an assembly of believers (the church) is not only two or three. There is also a condition for these two or three who are gathering. The Bible says, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name……. “. The question that must be answered is, “In whose name are you gathered?” If you are gathered in the name of a committee, project, or fundraising this is not a church.
In a church, these two or three must be gathered in the name of Jesus. When you are gathered in the name of Jesus, Jesus’s presence is there, “I am there in the midst of them.”. What qualifies an assembly to be called a church is the name of Jesus and the presence of Jesus, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” ( Matthew 18:20).
Here the minimal quorum of the church is two or three believers who are gathered in the name of Jesus and are conscious that Jesus is with them there.
A church is an assembly of two or three believers, the maximum number is not stated. They can be as many as…….. But the first condition stands, that they must gather in the name of Jesus and be conscious that Jesus is present.
Media & Technology
Technology has made it easy that one can be alone in the house and join another congregation or assembly as far as 1000 miles away and worship together. Through radio, television and the internet one can attend different services in different parts of the world and grow spiritually.
People can read books alone in the house and grow spiritually. You can alone listen to cassettes, CDs, and DVDs from men of God and grow spiritually.
By accessing spiritual nourishment you will be spiritually fit. But when it comes to practicing what you have learned, (i.e good works in love) that is when the challenge comes in.
Company & Communion
There are areas in the life of a believer, where you need the company of others to grow. You need people of precious faith to whom you will relate. These people because they are not perfect, some will step on your toes, and others will annoy you. Others will rebuke and correct you. And all this is in the process of spiritual growth. This helps you to be spiritually fit.
Keeping yourself far from the assembly of believers will:-
- Help you avoid bragging shoulder with people but will make you a limping believer.
- It will help you grow up spiritually by receiving corrections and rebukes that are needed to keep you on the right track spiritually and physically.
- You will have challenges in humbling yourself. For humility is learned through interacting with other believers.
- You will lack the warmth that comes from fellowship physically with others believers.
- Believers learn from each other through observation, relating and sharing their testimonies. You will be lopsided in this area.
- Your character needs checks and balances from others believers as you relate physically. You will lack it.
- You will be spiritually and scripturally sound engaging communicating and interacting with other believers.
In conclusion, a believer who keeps himself or herself away from assembly physically and uses other channels such as books, radio, television and the internet to listen to teaching and preachings, will be fifty percent fit spiritual believer but ninety percent physically unfit. A believer who keeps away from assembly and or assembling with other believers will be spiritually unfit in many areas. Therefore heed to these words, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. ( Hebrews 10:24–25).
Lastly, who is a Christian?
The word “Christian” means “like Christ” or “to be like Christ”. Followers of Jesus were first called “Christians” in Antioch. A Christian is someone who is saved, exhibits a changed life, walks in faith, shares the Gospel and helps teach others how to live like Christ. A Christian is someone who has put faith in and trust in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ through death on the cross and subsequent resurrection and ascension. A Christian is someone following the teachings or manifesting the qualities of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. A Christian is a person who believes in Jesus Christ and follows his teachings. A Christian is someone whose behaviour and heart reflect Jesus Christ.
All these descriptions define who a Christian is. Then how can you call yourself “Christ-like” and at the same time you are keeping away from the assembly of believers (the church) which is his body? You will only as a Christian become spiritually fit to the extent you are obeying Jesus and his command. Otherwise, you are a rebel.
Now here is the question again “can a Christian become spiritually fit without going to church?
The answer is the same; Yes and or No. Why? It depends on what they do and where they are.
Christian leaders particularly missionaries go to places where there are no believers. As Christians, they can become spiritually fit without going to church through the material they carry with them i.e books, CDs, cassettes and others. And through the revelation of Jesus Christ ( Galatians 1:11–12). who sent them there. Most importantly in constantly engaging in these spiritual practices studying the Word, applying the Word, praying, walking by faith, doing the work of God etc on a day-to-day basis.
There are parts of the world that prohibit Christianity and gathering, here the answer is yes they will become spiritually fit without going to a church by the grace of God and supernatural providence and revelation of God through the Holy Spirit in his Word.
But where Christianity is allowed, Christians have a part to play by attending the gathering. Here a Christian will not fully become spiritually fit without going to church.
By Gilbert Magomere Ayieko