Some say it is a sin for a believer not to attend a church. Some well known leaders also make it clear that any questioning of their methods is invalid if the questioner does not attend a local church – they believe that person is outside the body of Christ and so not worth listening to. Here’s a scenario put forth by Jeff McQuilkin in his blog that raises the discussion:
Say Lucy gets hurt in church, or disillusioned, or maybe just plain bored. Whatever the case, she make a decision to leave–and not just leave one church for another, but to leave the entire church system. She doesn’t renounce her faith in Christ, she just stops going to church. In the eyes of most, she is now considered “un-churched”, and she’s okay with that label, for now. But in her mind, and often the minds of others, she has rejected the notion of “church” as it has been presented to her. And the more emotional the departure, probably the more intense the sense of rejection. If Lucy was just bored, she’s just abandoned something she thinks is useless; if she got hurt, it’s going to be a stronger rejection.
But Lucy still claims to belong to Jesus. So did she really reject the church? Is she “out”?
Let’s say that over time, Lucy’s relationship with God, which continues to grow during this time, prompts her to seek out fellowship with other believers. She finds this fellowship in coffee shops, or Bible studies, or maybe even a home group. She finds community, accountability, and encouragement–all the things she had hoped to find in the church she left behind. So…again I ask: did Lucy really reject the church?
– Jeff McQuilkin on April 14, 2008