The Church of Christ at Wisconsin Rapids

Can I Be a Christian Without a Church?

The bible does not support the idea of being a Christian who does not belong to any particular church.

Christians are Added to the Church

Acts 2 describes the start of the church. The apostle Peter preached a very convicting sermon and when he was done, many people were baptized. When they were baptized, they were added to the church.

Acts 2:41
Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.
Acts 2:47
And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

The word “church” comes from an ordinary Greek word that has taken on a religious meaning. “Church” comes from “ekklēsia,” which means assembly. It is a group of people. When someone becomes a Christian, he or she joins that group of people.

The Universal Church and Local Churches

In one sense, there is only one church, made up of all Christians. This is sometimes described as the universal church. The bible refers to the church as the body of Christ (Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 1:18, 24). And there is only one body.

Ephesians 4:4
There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling;

But in another sense, there are many churches, each made up of the Christians who work together in a geographical area.

Acts 9:31
Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified.

See also: Romans 16:16; 1 Corinthians 16:1, 19

Where possible, elders exercise leadership over, not the universal church, but the local church where they reside.

1 Peter 5:1-2
The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers…

See also: Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5

Christians Work Together

All Christians are part of the universal church. Christians that work together in the same area are part of the same local church. But is it necessary to work together with Christians in your local area?

Working together is a huge part of being a Christian. Choosing not to participate in this would prevent the body of the Church from operating at full strength.

1 Corinthians 12:14-18
For in fact the body is not one member but many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.

See also: 1 Corinthians 12:12-27; Ephesians 4:11-16

Finally, Christians are supposed to be united and a close knit group. This does not seem possible if we refuse to participate with the Christians in our own area and be a part of the local church.

1 Corinthians 1:10
Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

See also: Acts 2:46-47; Romans 12:9-16; 1 Thessalonians 4:9-10; 1 Peter 3:8; 1 John 3:16