I suppose it has always been popular to say, "I don't have to go to church to be a Christian." This notion only gained acceptance with the Covid-19 pandemic, as many became accustomed to “doing church” from their living room.
Technically, this statement is correct. Salvation is not earned, nor is it maintained, by doing good works - including attending church. I have a friend who likes to say, “Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to McDonald’s makes you a cheeseburger.” In other words, only the grace of God saves us, and only the power of God preserves our salvation. However, if you think God doesn't care if you attend church, you are wrong.
Hebrews 10:24-25 says, "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."
Make no mistake. God does expect Christians to regularly assemble with other believers. When you forsake this aspect of your faith, you are in direct
violation of God's Word. It is impossible to be a healthy Christian, and not be committed to a local church.
There are many good reasons why God commands Christians to physically assemble together. We worship. We organize for ministry and evangelism. We grow in our faith. We enjoy fellowship and encouragement. We observe the ordinances.
At this point there are always those who say, "I can worship at home or on the lake. I can grow in my faith by watching a television sermon, or listening to a podcast. I can contribute to ministry and missions by giving online to charitable organizations and Christian causes. Why do I need to attend a local church?"
First of all, let me be candid and say I have never met a non-church-attender who actually does all those things. I’m not saying such a person doesn’t exist, I’m just saying they are the exception to the rule. Nevertheless, for the sake of argument, let's assume this does describe you. Let's assume you are the model Christian, and have no need for the encouragement and accountability of other believers.
It doesn't matter. Other believers need you.
Look again at Hebrews 10:24. What is the first phrase in that verse? - "Let us consider one another.” Contrary to popular opinion, we don't just go to church for ourselves; we go to church for others. We don't just go to church to receive; we go to church to give. We go to church to be part of something bigger than ourselves - the Body of Christ. We need to remember this.
One final thought ... While it is technically correct to say that church attendance doesn't make one a Christian, 1 John 1:7 does add this little wrinkle, "if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another ..." You may not have to go to church to be a Christian but, on the other hand, you may not be a Christian if you don't go to church.