Short answer: Yes. And no.
Not a satisfying answer? Okay:
During my high school years, I would openly acknowledge that I believed in God, but I didn’t think that you’d find Him in a church. I was largely agnostic/deistic during this time. (I believed in the existence of something beyond myself, though I questioned how much He involved Himself in the world.)
In college, I did the opposite most people seem to: I went back to church. I had often found myself “church shopping” over the years. I was lucky that I found a church which fit with my theology and preferences more than any other church had done before. Everything was really great.
Then, I moved to Spain. In Spain there is not a church home for us. We’ve had to learn to survive, to be spiritually fed without a church.
How to Be a Christian Without a Church (The Survival Guide)
1. Podcasts (and, I Suppose, Blogs)
I listen to a Christian Faith podcast at least twice a week. I prefer ones with an intellectual bent to them. Here are my top recommendations:
- Timothy Keller Sermons Podcast
- Sojourn New Albany (my home church)
- Seminary Dropout
- The Liturgists Podcast
- Cultivated: A Podcast About Faith and Work
2. Personal Bible Study
I try to read a chapter in the Bible at least once every other day. Currently, I’m in the Old Testament. It’s rough to slog through, but I’m trying to read the entire Bible chronologically organized.
3. Prayer and Meditation
Most Americans pray by talking out loud. While I do this sometimes, it’s easy to see one of the biggest problems people have with prayer: “I feel like I am just talking to no one.”
This is why I have increasingly preferred meditation. Here are a few to look into:
- Centering Prayer
- Apophatic Contemplative Meditation
- Ignatian Guided Meditation
- Lectio Divina (Meditation with Bible Reading)
These things can help a Christian survive, but that is it: survive. We don’t want to be in survival mode forever. There are reasons for attending a church.
What You Can’t Do Without a Church
1. Baptism: You cannot baptize yourself. You can, technically, baptize others– though the idea is often connected to baptizing people from their old life and into a new one, including a new family of believers. Not that church cannot be done with only two people, but it is often best done with a few more.
2. Eucharist: You cannot give yourself the lord’s supper, which is, again, supposed to be done in community with each other. That is why another name for it is communion. It is meant to be a reminder between believers of our savior, who will return.
3. Community: In case you couldn’t tell: community is the most important part of church! It is the best way to be spiritual growth (providing your church is a non-toxic environment). At their absolute best, you will also have people who take a high interest in your overall well-being. (I prefer churches with small groups, which lends itself more to the close knit relationships.)
But what about you? Have you gone through a time when you didn’t go to church? What brought you back? What do you get out of going to church? Let me know in the comments below!
To hear more about the benefits of going to a church, even if you’re not sure of your beliefs, check out this post from The Art of Manliness.
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