Believe it or not, the word ‘Church’ was not part of the original text. The word Church is thought to have originated in the early 1st century. It’s meaning is ‘house of the Lord’. So Church refers to a building. There are several issue with this.
In the Old Testament, the word never appears. It first appears in the New Testament in Matthew 16:18:
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Matthew 16:18
But Christ would not have said ‘church’. Why?
The original word would have been ‘assembly’, which was replaced with ‘Church’ by the King James Version Translators. Christ did not come to build a ‘building’. He came to establish a ‘body’ of believers, His Body! So, Christ would have used the word ‘body, assembly, or gathering’. In the Greek, this would be ‘Ekklesia’.
According to scripture, despite how many times the word is used, we are not ‘The Church’. We are the Body of Christ and His Body exists wherever Believers gather.
So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Romans 12:5
Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. Ephesians 2:19-22
As far as why we would gather, I believe we should have a few ‘go to’ people we listen to or consult for scriptural truth. Yet the Holy Spirit should be our singular guide in all things biblical. As such, all of our ‘go to’s’ should say the same thing, even if the perspective differs.
Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 2 Peter 1:20
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. John 16:13
The Need For Fellowship
I believe there is a need for fellowship. As the Body of Christ, we can only demonstrate the attributes of Christ by interaction with one another. Love, mercy, long-suffering, patience, etc., are actions that can only be strengthened through use. This takes place by communication.
And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. Acts 2:42
And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Acts 2:46
This communication does not always happen in person though. There are instances when Believers cannot be in each other’s company physically. Unlike the days of Peter and Paul, modern technology allows us to connect and communication over the distances.
Still, when possible, personal interaction is vital because as humans, we need to see, hear, and touch one another. So getting together with another Believer when possible is important. But I do not believe it is necessary to gather en masse for any reason other than for personal fellowship and to be taught God’s Truth. And because of technology, it’s possible to learn from almost anywhere.
If we are to use the Early Christians as our example of how we should act today, we should gather in homes, parks, schools, meeting rooms, anywhere it’s convenient for a group of people can assemble. This is what the Early Christians did!
And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither. Acts 16:13
Why Do We Feel Like We Have To Go To Church?
Mainly because you were always told to needed to! During the centuries after the establishment of the Body of Christ, people were ‘convinced’ they should assemble in buildings dedicated to worship. Many of the Early Christians were Jews, so they went to the Temple out of habit, not because it’s where they needed to go to hear the Word. The Gentile Christians were not compelled to go to the Temple.
And note this. Under the Old Testament, only the Priests entered the Tabernacle in the Wilderness. The people worshiped outside. Now our bodies is God’s Tabernacle!
So, since Christ, the only ‘House of God’ is our body. We are His temple. We as a whole make up Christ’s Body. Therefore we cannot ‘go to church’, but we can attend a gathering or be part of an assembly of believers.
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? 1 Corinthians 3:16
By the way, the only real ‘Church’ in existence today is the Church of Rome. This is where all other Churches come from. If you don’t believe it, check the history of the Church and look at the similarities between many of the ceremonies, liturgy, rites, and Vestments you see in ‘your church’ today. Hmm…
Why People Seek or Stay Home
I believe the main reason so many seem disconnected from a primary assembly is singular. They are hungry for knowledge. They are searching for truth. And truth is difficult to find. Even more difficult in a day and age of deceivers and wolves is finding someone you can trust to not take advantage of you.
But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. 2 Peter 2:1
But this is where a Christian must be discerning. We can make excuses to trust no one and walk in our flesh thinking we can do it all. But God has provided those who can teach us. So unless we think we have all knowledge and know more than anyone else, we need to pray for Holy Spirit filled teachers and take advantange of what God has gifted them with.
If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. 1 Timothy 6:3-5
And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. 2 Timothy 2:2