What if my family doesn’t go to church but I want to?
Find out how you can still gather with God's people and live out your faith.
First off, a word of encouragement: If you have believed that Jesus is your Savior, who died on the cross to pay the price for your sins, then YES, you will go to Heaven—no matter what you do or don't do! (Learn more here: How can I be saved?)
In Acts 16:30, the apostle Paul and his friend Silas are in jail, and the guard is curious about what they've been talking about. He asks them, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" The answer is the same for us today: "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved" (Acts 16:31). Going to church is not going to save you from your sins; only faith in Jesus Christ will do that. God has separated you from your sins "as far as the east is from the west" (Psalm 103:12).
Likewise, even tithing or making any donations to a church or Christian organization is NOT a requirement for salvation. Giving money toward God's work is a good thing, but it will not save us. Only faith in Christ will save us.
That said, the Bible DOES tell us that all believers need to attend church so that we can worship God, be taught from His Word (Acts 2:42; Hebrews 10:25), and have relationships with other believers. These are all important parts of growing closer to God and learning to live your life for Him. It gives you a structure that can help keep you focused on serving Him and serving others.
So while church attendance or tithing is not going to guarantee you eternal life, it will help you grow spiritually as a Christian.
But what can you do if your family doesn't go to church? How can you grow spiritually? You can't help it if you don't have a ride or you aren't allowed. Maybe you have a part-time job that interferes with Sunday morning plans. Maybe you're living in a country such as China where going to church isn't an option for you at all—unless you want to get arrested or worse.
These are all difficult circumstances, but you are not alone in your dilemma. Be assured that other Christians around the world are facing similar problems. Here are a few suggestions if you find yourself in one of these situations...
If there are churches around your city but you can't get to them:
Talk to your parents. Let them know that you want to go to church. If they don't care either way, maybe they can figure out a way to drop you off and pick you up on Sunday or even a Saturday night service. Either way, it is really necessary for you to let them know that going to church is important to you.
Go with a friend! Do you have any friends or other nearby family members who go to church? Ask your parents for permission to go with a friend, and maybe your friend's parents can drive you.
If it is illegal to attend church where you live:
Find other believers. The main point of church is to get believers together to encourage one another in their faith. You could start a quiet, underground group that meets regularly—off the grid. Avoid putting meeting dates or locations on the internet or printed paper; keep it as a word-of-mouth spread of info only.
These are hard times for many Christians in restricted countries, but the eternal benefits are worth the hardships we have to deal with in this life on earth (Colossians 1:11-14).
You don't need a church to have Church.
Worship doesn't have to take place at a church building to happen. You can worship God anywhere (Psalm 150:1-6; Colossians 3:16; Hebrews 13:15; Romans 12:1). Try to develop friendships with other believers in your circles and/or your family. You can still have community and accountability with other believers even if you don't attend a church; it just take a bit more effort. ☺
If you absolutely cannot attend church for whatever reason, then it is absolutely vital that you read the Bible and pray as much as possible. Take time every day to study His Word, talk to God, and ask Him to connect you with other believers in your area or even online. Ask Him to help you learn what He wants you to do in your life and for the strength to do it.
If nothing else can be done, prayer is the most important thing you could do. Don't go without prayer for even a day! Keep praying and studying His Word on your own as much as possible.
"May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." Colossians 1:11-14
EDITOR'S NOTE: If you are choosing not to go to church out of rebellion or because the church has hurt you (which can happen), then that is another situation altogether, but not what we're talking about here. If this more describes your situation, check out this article: Why do I have to go to church?
Originally published at 412teens.org.