Posted by: Harry Sasnowitz | June 30, 2018

Let’s Be Honest: Going To Church Can Be Overrated

I was recently enjoying a light-roast at my favorite local coffee-house when I entered into a conversation with a gentleman sitting close to me, who happened to be a pastor. Having found out that I’m a Christian, he asked me, “So, where do you go to church?”

Over time, I’ve learned to enjoy answering that question.

I answered the way I now always answer, which is, “I don’t.” Then I just stay silent, see what the reaction is, and wait for a reply. His response was typical; he assumed I had no real fellowship with others because I didn’t attend church, and felt compelled to share Hebrews 10:25 with me, which states in the King James Version:

“Not neglecting the assembling of ourselves together, which is the manner of some, but encouraging one another daily….”

It was his attempt to show me the “error of my way” and to get me to go to church.

I then politely explained to him how I actually did have regular, rich and encouraging fellowship with many, but my community experience was outside a traditional church setting. However, that wasn’t good enough for him; in his view, it didn’t matter and couldn’t possibly be legitimate if it didn’t involve going to church.

It was at that point that I shared with him how the “not neglecting the assembling of ourselves together” phrase from the King James Version was a very poor translation of the early manuscripts (due to Roman Catholic bias), and that the 1599 Geneva Bible translation was much truer to those manuscripts, which says,

“Not neglecting the FELLOWSHIP we have among ourselves, but encouraging one another daily….” (Hebrews 10:25)

His reaction was priceless; it was as if someone hit him over the head with a frying pan. But rather than considering the validity of what I shared, and accepting the fact that there is no “fellowship one with another” during a typical church service (one “talking head” while everyone else listens), he doubled down in defense of his position of needing to “go to church” to experience community.

One thing you can know for sure: for those whose livelihood depends on people faithfully attending Sunday services, they will defend it to the death, even when the very scripture they use to support their conviction is shown to refute their conviction.

Aside from being part of the ultimate community (the Trinity), Jesus’ “community reality” on earth was that of investing in an inner circle of twelve people…. people whom He shared life with, loved, served and ultimately gave His life for. But in our day and age, getting in the trenches with real people in the arena of real life, lifting one another’s burdens, and sacrificing our time, talent and treasure for each other just doesn’t fit well within our American culture of comfort, convenience, and narcissism (church culture included); we’d rather passively hear hot preaching, attend Sunday morning services, slap the name “Community Church” on it all, and then invite others to come enjoy our fake communities.

What a sham.

Rather than modeling Christ in relational reality, it’s grievous to see how many are still embracing an impersonal and artificial model instead; assembling together for the Sunday morning church service… something that will never produce community, although Pastors always say it will.

There’s a large mega-church in the Triangle; apparently one of the fastest growing churches in America. If I mentioned the name, you all would recognize it. The pastor and other leaders there talk much about community from the pulpit, and share how coming to services and being a part of one of their many small groups (structured, someone assigned to lead, controlled from the top) is the key to community. Well, I lost count of the people I’ve met who have gone to this church, have done everything the pastor and other leaders have said, for 1 year, 2 years, 5 years, and have walked away from that place relationally bankrupt; no real friends, no experience of family, community, etc… But oh, the preacher is so eloquent and preaches great sermons on community!! How ironic it is that one can preach great messages on the subject of community, yet all the while be the main character in the Sunday morning service… a religious exercise that acts as one of the greatest obstacles to Christians ever experiencing community.

Now, for those who say they’re always hearing about what the problem is but they never hear a solution, well, I’m going to share a solution; I’ve actually been sharing it for the last 3 years!

The degree to which we are willing to relationally engage with others in the arena of real life will determine our community reality. Period. End of story. There are no short-cuts.

A large mega-church, smaller community church, house church, small group, meetup group or any other organized gathering, regardless of how formal or informal, does not inherently have the power to magically produce community in anyone’s life, regardless of how often one attends. Only lives relationally engaged with one another in real life and given to each other in time, love and service will produce that. And it doesn’t have to be very many people! Unfortunately, most of us are more committed to a group meeting and hearing hot preaching than we are to one another in the arena of real life.

Finding our tribe outside of a traditional church environment undoubtedly takes time, and it can be a lonely road for awhile. But if you can hang in there and avoid being sucked back into the system, it’s well worth the wait.

May we be open to the people who come across our path, and find environments that are actually conducive to meeting people AND having casual, open conversation. If you sense good vibes with someone, be intentional and reach out to that individual for future connection. You never know who may become a true, life-long friend.

Personally, I would rather get together with a few people where open sharing and genuine love is present, than join the masses on Sunday morning to get a weekly Jesus-fix.





  1. I can totally relate

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am astounded at the work of the Holy Spirit. I received this message at a time where I was meditating on the “community” life and journey of Jesus Christ. While Jesus did enter the Temple…He was born into a Jewish family…He primarily spoke out in the community with the tax collectors, the fishermen, the vineyard workers, the prostitutes, etc. What religion has done is place Jesus in sort of a “home confinement” and the end result has been the removal of Jesus from the communities of the world. This is a great discussion.


  3. I completely agree! Thank you for writing this. You summed it all up and gave a really honest and wise solution. It is such a lonely time finding meaningful, real friendships for me but I am comforted in the knowledge that God works all things for good. He knows what we need – including fellowship – and he will provide it in his way and his time. At least, he has opened our eyes to the truth about church. At least we are learning his paths, instead of blindly following the man-made one so many Christians are stumbling on.


  4. ‘Bout time someone claimed that ‘cuz I’ve hadit with goin’ to church.


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