I Don’t Need to Go to Church to Be a Christian

When we worship together we mature in our spiritual growth.

Scott Rodgers
Oct 29, 2017    36m
In this Sermon Pastor Scott discusses the saying, "You don't have to go to Church to be a Christian." While he recognizes that this is a technically true statement. He examines bible verses that show us that God wanted us to worship together in fellowship to more fully mature in our Christianity. He also explained that the church is there to lean on and be comforted or to comfort others in times of weakness. Video recorded at Chandler, Arizona.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Pastor Scott: 00:53 So glad you're here. My name is Scott. If we haven't yet met, hey, let's keep the clap and going. Let's welcome everyone at the Scottsdale campus, the San Tan campus, everyone that might be an overflow in The Venue right now here in Chandler and the 5:00 service. That's a lot of people to mention isn't it? Come on, man, let's give it up. One big family here at Cornerstone. I'm so glad that you're here. Man, this is going to be fun this morning and as I just said, maybe you didn't hear because someone exuberant next to you is clapping which was awesome, but my name is Scott Rodgers and I'm really thrilled to be here with you today. Before we get into the conversation, first of all, if this is your first time here at Cornerstone, we just hope you have a great experience today. A whole bunch of people have been praying for you, really, praying that you'd walk out of these doors in a few minutes going, man, God has something for my life. I needed to lean into that and figure that out. And so we're just so glad that you're here and all of our locations. Let's give it up for everyone who is here for the first time. Come on man. they're our special guests today.

Pastor Scott: 01:58 I actually brought something with me, it's at every campus this morning. I brought a copy or a few copies of a book that I released earlier this year. If you're interested in this, you might want to grab a copy. Let me tell you about real quick. Okay, so you're like, I don't know if I'm interested in that, but how how many of you guys still read? Anybody here? Still read. Okay. We're going to be all right then. Our future is still okay.

Pastor Scott: 02:18 I wrote this book after having gone through, quite honestly, it was the five of the worst years of my life. I survived that season and it was so difficult, and at times so dark, I honestly didn't think I was gonna get through and be anything other than a statistic an unhealthy statistic. And I'm, you know, I'm pastoring a church at the time that I'm going through this. Of course I'm married. We have three kids trying to be a dad, trying to be a husband, and all this stuff. Just honestly in many areas of my heart was just experiencing very troubling times, but I survived. And I got through and I felt very clearly that God spoke to my heart and he said, you know, I want you to share your story with other people. Because Scott, you're not the only one who loves me, but at times feels like you've been abandoned by God. And I wrote about some very, very personal things in this book. And here's what I discovered through this journey, is for me and I think it's relevant to all of us, is that God often does his deepest work in us in our greatest season of trial. And I learned more about God during those five years and more about myself than I ever had. And I discovered with greater clarity that God is faithful, that God is good, and he will bring us through as we cling to him. And if you're going through a tough time and maybe you are a follower of Jesus and you're thinking this doesn't make sense, man, why? Why would I be going through this if God so good? Just realize that you're not alone. Not only are those of us sitting around you may be going through the same journey or have gone through it. There are a lot of people in scripture who went all in for God who lost much. And I discovered that as I started digging into Gods word. What's going on is this just me, does it make sense. And I discovered a whole bunch of stuff in this, and I've written about and humbly, it seems like God's really impacted some people's lives with it. So if you're interested, this resonates with you at all., grab a copy on the way out of your campus. I hope it's encouraging to you. Anybody who reads interested? Like, okay, ma'am I'm going to t it to you second row. So the gentleman sitting in front of you, I don't want to hit him. Is that a Purdue shirt that you have for the Boilermakers? Anybody from Indiana? Here's. Yeah. All right, here we go. Lafayette. There we go.

Pastor Scott: 04:53 All right so we're in this series week number two called dumb things Christians say. Don't you love Cornerstone? I just love that. Dumb things Christians say. I went to the dentist on Monday it was my six month time to go to the dentist, and I sit down in the chair. The hygienist, literally total truth, she says have you been experiencing any problems in your mouth since your last visit? And all I could think to say was, I said, well, only the words that sometimes come out. She thought it was kind of half funny too, but didn't take it any further. Is anybody like me, where you don't have to be a Christian to say dumb things. You just, you have a gift of saying dumb things. I have that spiritual gift. Anybody else feel like that? I mean have you ever like said something and you think to yourself did I just say that? That is the dumbest thing. I'm not talking about your spouse telling you that, like you're telling yourself that is the dumbest thing. And I just think because we're human beings, we have the propensity to say if we're honest, dumb things. Right? And in fact, let me read a few things from me that I got on social media. Yeah, right. Here we go. This is pretty dumb. Here's one. Why should I attend Bob's funeral? If he won't attend mine? Jesus loves you, Bro, but you are dumb as rocks. I'm not going to say that at the next service that was mean. Okay, I'm just dumb as rocks too. Okay, here's another one. On my way to London, I'm so excited, I can't wait to see the Eiffel Tower. Some of you were like yeah. Here's the last one. How can y'all steal my identity if y'all don't look like me, won't work.

Pastor Scott: 06:43 Here's the challenge with the dumb things that we say, Christian or Non-Christian, is that are dumb things become dangerous if they influence how we live. In fact, to those of us who are followers of Christ, God says something quite specific to his people and here's what he says. I'm going to fire through some versus real quick, so don't feel you needed to turn there. You can turn to some in just a couple moments. But here's what it says. (Hosea 4:6) Scripture says God speaking to his people, "My people are destroyed from a lack of knowledge." Now we got to take that to heart because at minimum we're gonna miss out on God's best for our life, if we're uninformed or misinformed. And even more, we might just go off the rails in our faith and make a mess of things if we believe some things, that are for the sake of the series dumb, but really what we're saying aren't biblical.

Pastor Scott: 07:46 Here's one that we're going to talk about today. Dumb things. I think Christians and I've heard some of my friends who aren't Christians say. I don't have to go to church to be a Christian. Everybody say that. Say, I don't have to go to church, no, it's okay you can say it, it's not bad, you're not going to get spanked by anyone, it's okay San Tan, Scottsdale. I don't have to go to church to be a Christian. How many of you are thinking well that's, I mean, that sounds true. That doesn't sound dumb or bad. How many would honestly say that's a true statement? I don't have to go to church to be a Christian. Raise your hand. Come on. Come on. Sir. Okay, how many would say, I don't think that's a true statement. I don't have to go to church to be a Christian. How many say like, I don't think that's true. I mean, okay, a few of you. How many of you aren't going to raise your hand no matter what I say? Gotcha, got you to raise your hand.

Pastor Scott: 08:11 I don't have to go to church to be a Christian. It's true, but it's misleading. And here's what some of my friends say and even what I would say. I don't have to go to church to be a Christian, because a Christian is defined as anyone anywhere who has received Christ as savior. Let me show you. (Romans 10:13) says, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." Everyone. It doesn't matter where we are. We can call on Christ to save our soul in our closet, at the office at our desks, standing by our locker at school, at the gym working out, or in a building like this. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. I don't have to go to church to be a Christian or to become a Christian. Absolutely true. And I've heard some of my other friends say this, in regard to this, well, I don't have to go to church to be a Christian because the church isn't a building it's come on you guys you read your Bible. San Tan, Scottsdale help me with this. I don't have to be a Christian because the church isn't a building it's people. And your right. Here's what scripture also says in (Colossians 1:18) "Christ is also head of the church, which is his body." What does that mean? The church, his body? Let's look for clarification. (First Corinthians 12:27) speaking to followers of Jesus, "Now you are the body of Christ and each one of you is a part of it." So those of us who follow Christ, scripture says, we are the body of Christ and the body of Christ is the church. The church isn't a building. It is people. Totally true. However, here's why it's misleading to embrace this statement, I don't have to go to church to be a Christian. Over, and over, and over, and over, and over again, in the bible. The church is defined as a gathering of believers coming together to worship God, serve one another, and grow in their faith. In fact, the New Testament mentions the word church 114 times, and in over 90 of those references are identifying a local, specific group of believers banded together in fellowship and shared mission.

Pastor Scott: 11:35 (Hebrews 10) If you have a bible, you can start turning to these references if you like. How many of you guys are paper Bible people? Raise your hand. All right, hands down. How many are APP Digital Bible people? OK Man, we're like 50/50 now. Aren't we? Nice. We're gonna have a little grudge match outdoors and see who wins that whole deal. Here's what it says. (Hebrews 10) San Tan and Scottsdale. Here's what it says in (Hebrews 10:24) referencing followers of Christ, "Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works." That's good stuff. Next verse, “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another especially now that the day of his return is drawing near." For those of us who are followers of Christ, when's the last time you encourages someone else when we got together? You know that God is saying, that should be a regular part of our interaction with one another, to encourage one another, to stir one another up unto good works, to lean into what God's calling us to do in our life. And so if you're like me, and you're and honestly if I'm sitting where you're sitting, I'm a really introverted kind of personality, and they're are like amen you're dismissed. I'm like I'm out of here, slowdown, linger a little longer, look for someone to encourage. Because that's part of what God desires to happen when we gather together. So this says encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

Pastor Scott: 13:13 What's really interesting in the totality of scripture we read in specifically the New Testament. For those of us who are Christian, God has called us to both gather and to scatter. Say that, say gather and scatter. Last week, Tim Beal did a fantastic job teaching on what do we look like as we scatter? Because he was talking about well here's the dumb thing Christians say, my faith is personal. Yeah it is personal, but it should be public. It's not private and does our life look appealing enough to the folks that we do life with. And we talked about really scattering, but when it comes to gathering together, as God calls us to do so, really the, the form of it is quite diverse. I mean gathering together as followers of Christ can be two of us sitting in a coffee shop, encouraging one another, helping one another to, to grow in our faith. It could be a five of us sitting in our living room praying together, helping one another to grow in our faith. It could be 100 of us at the church down the road from the house. It could be thousands of people at Cornerstone. It could be a church that has a number of locations where there's a gathering of believers that are coming together to worship God, to serve one another and grow in their faith in San Tan, in Scottsdale, in Chandler, in The Venue here in the chandler location. God has called us to gather together over and over and over and over and over again in scripture and as we do to worship him, and to serve one another, to encourage one another and to grow in our faith.

Pastor Scott: 15:07 It could happen anywhere, but the function of the church is actually clearly defined in scripture. And I want to take a look at that for just a moment. Go to (Acts 2) Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, acts. a.c.t.s. You know when I first heard that going to church, I thought ax like you would swing the ax. Anyway a little insight into my my life. So here is (Acts 2) looking at the function of the gathering. When we get together, what's, what should it look like? (Acts 2:42) starts and says, "All the believers." How many of you guys let me just ask you this, Cornerstone and every single location. How many of you would say, well, that includes me? I'm a believer that Jesus is the son of God, the risen Christ. He loves me. I'm forgiven, and someday I'm going to step into eternity and spend forever with him. Come on. Anybody here? Loud and proud? All the believers. Okay, all right. San Tan, Scottsdale, they were kind of like half. So hope you guys aren't cheering him on that one, but we're getting there. So it says, "All the believers." Every single one of them, not just half of them, not 10 percent of them, not the 80/20 principle. You know 20 percent did eighty percent of the work and you know, eighty percent, whatever. So it says "All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles teaching, all of the believers devoted themselves to fellowship." A Bible word for getting real and honest with one another, and doing life together, serving one another, et Cetera, et cetera. "All the believers devoted themselves to sharing in meals, including the Lord's supper." Which is communion, taking communion together. "All of the believers devoted themselves to prayer." And what's the result when the body of Christ, the people of God, the church, gathered together doing these things, what's the result? The next verse says, "A deep sense of awe came over them all." How many of you here would say, man, I know what it's like to experience a deep sense of awe when we gather together? And I know it's like, what does that mean? Right? But you've experienced it. Where you're worshiping God, or someone maybe Linn's teaching or something, and you're just like the sense of like holy cow God is in this room. He is shaking me up. He's stirring me up and something's going on. And you have this sense of when God makes himself known in that way, you have this overwhelming, awesome sense of like, holy cow, I just want to like bow before him to him right now. It's a beautiful experience. If you haven't experienced that sense of awe, be hungry for it and ask God for it. And when you get together to worship lean in, go all in and watch God, at times we'll just do this big oh this is incredible. That's what's happening in the community of these people as they gathered together. Let's keep going. It says in the rest of the verse it says, "The Apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders.' God is supernatural, right?

Pastor Scott: 18:17 Verse Forty Four, all the believers, what'd they do, they met together in one place and then what? Shared everything they had. Some of your like oh no here we go, I am backing out right now, here we go. They went to an extreme, some of them, and here's what some of them went to. In their context, they sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. Verse Forty six, they worshiped together at the temple. How often? Twice a month, Christmas Eve? Fanatic, every day, didn't they? They worshiped at the temple each day, they met in homes for the Lord's supper, the get together in homes taking communion. Hey Bro, what are you doing man? Friday night, let's get together. What do you want to do? Let's take some communion. They share their meals with great joy and generosity. Now watch this verse 47, "All the while praising God and joining the goodwill of all the people, and each day the Lord added to their fellowship, those who were being saved."

Pastor Scott: 19:26 When someone comes into a relationship with Jesus. God's first priority is to place them in the body of local believers, the church. That's what it says. When I first went to a church, outside of going to a funeral and a wedding, as a kid my friend invited me to church and I didn't have a relationship with Jesus. I went in there and it was like the creepiest thing I've ever experienced. It scared the bejebbers out of me man. Because I came from a home where we just weren't, were much more affectionate now, but we weren't like the hugging, slobbering kind of folks, you know. I think it's a good thing to do that, we just weren't that way. So I go to this church and these people are like hugging me and they were like so exuberantly joyful that I was there, and they just keep on hugging me and getting really close. I was like, man, back off, my bubble is burst and I'm freaking out right now and I couldn't wait to get out of that place. It creeped me out.

Pastor Scott: 20:25 But then later in life when I gave my life to Christ and I did that, not in a room like this, a church building, I did it kneeling at the edge of a bed in a little bedroom in Culver City, California. Looking at a piece of paper that someone handed me while I was walking along Manhattan beach in the L.A. area and it simply had a simple message...God loves you. Jesus died for you. Do you want to go to heaven? Spend eternity with God. If so, pray this prayer. And you know, I'm like yeah man, yeah, and I prayed that prayer. Gave my life to Christ, and once I did that, the next time I went into a church, it was totally different, man. I was literally going man, this is awesome. We get to worship God. Is that what we're doing right now? Like that's cool. And the teaching, I'd be like whoa that's incredible, that's changing everything about me. And I got to meet other people who were hungering for God, just like I was. I thought church is incredible and I went back every single time the doors were open. You couldn't keep me out of the church, man. But here's the disconnect for maybe some of us. Maybe some of you are like me the first time I went to church. You're like they are kinda creepy man. Someone was like getting a little too close to me being too kind and being nice. And that's what you get at Cornerstone. We're always ready for you, man. Hopefully we don't scare you away, but we just want to let you know we love you and we're glad you're here. Right? Come on. Give it up for those folks who are here first time, man. I'm so glad you're here.

Pastor Scott: 22:01 And here's, here's what maybe is for you a disconnect as well in regard to the church and going to church. In my zeal for what God was doing in my life, I was so passionate about sharing my faith and trying to invite my friends to church. That I would once they were kinda like, nah, I'm not doing that thing. Are you crazy Scott? What are you talking about? And they just wouldn't go with me to church. I started to over-hype church. As if God's definition of his church was insufficient. And I would literally, to dramatize a little bit, but kind of start saying things somewhat like this. I'm like, no, dude, you gotta go to church. I mean the music is incredible, it's like Bruno Mars is leading worship every week. Man. It's incredible. In the teaching, you're going to laugh, you're going to cry, you'll be inspired, you'll be motivated, they will totally change everything in your life. The teachings are amazing and the kids programs, it's better than Disney. And those volunteers who love on those kids do such a great job. The parents never have to parent their child ever again. They're perfect. Church is awesome. And the teenagers, well, we're still trying to figure that out. The music. It's really good. And I would over-hype the church. It never matched the brochure. Don't we do that sometimes in the American church? We over, you know we under deliver and over promise. It doesn't matter. I haven't been in a hotel or somewhere. We got all the brochures and you grab some. Let's go to the caverns and then you drive 30 miles into the hills and you'd go to the caverns and some guy there with a blue Walmart pool in a chair. Hey you go over to the pool and I've dug a pit out back. Here you go. Give me five bucks. You're like, it doesn't match the brochure.

Pastor Scott: 23:57 Sometimes church doesn't match the brochure, I'm sorry, because we over-hyped it. But what if God were to write a brochure on what his church was to be about? He did. It's called the B.I.B.L.E. Let me show you something. (Ephesians 4. Turn over to (Ephesians 4) here's what it says in regard to what, in addition to (Acts 2) what some of the church should look like. it says now these are the gifts Christ gave in verse 11. "These are the gifts Christ gave to the church, the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, some pastors and teachers their responsibility." Linn Winters responsibility, Tim Beals responsibility, Aaron Swensen's, responsibility, Larry Van Laars responsibility. Their responsibility is to equip God's people to do His work and build up the church. The body of Christ. Verse 13, "This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God's son, that we will be mature once they mature, that we will all be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ That is such an intimidating statement to me.

Pastor Scott: 25:13 But you know, because none of us are probably there yet, and as God adds new people into the family of God every single day, this is just going to keep on going until Jesus comes back because it's never going to be done. It's never going to be done. Go down to verse 16. It says this, "He, Jesus makes the whole body fit together perfectly." Now how many guys have been to church for three weeks? You're like, man, that perfect. I've never seen a perfect church. It's kind of crazy at times. God says he's making all that mess, it is messy sometimes, making all chaos fit together perfectly as each part does its own special work and it helps the other parts grow. This is the brochure. It is so the whole body is what? Healthy, and growing, and full of love. To say I don't have to go to church to be a Christian, though technically true, completely misses the point of God's purpose for the church. We can go to heaven without going to church, right? Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. We can go to heaven without going to church, but we will never mature in our faith apart from the church. Not like God wants us to mature. It's his plan, not some guys or some gals plan. We get to heaven but we won't mature apart from the church.

Pastor Scott: 26:45 May I challenge you for a moment? If Cornerstone is your home and you're hungry to grow. Realize that a big part of the recipe for growth is engaging and committing to the life of the local church. Worshiping God together regularly, serving one another so we can grow in our faith to mature.

Pastor Scott: 27:16 Several years ago, my wife Shelly and I were having dinner with a whole bunch of friends at Cracker Barrel. Anybody here ever been to the one, you have like one cracker barrel here in the valley, right? I don't know if it's any good anymore. If you work there. God bless you, I hope it's awesome. I do know that back in the day it used to be really good, and it was one of those places where you would literally for eight bucks you would get the biggest breakfast the planet would ever provide. You could feed a third world country with one of these breakfasts. Anybody know I'm talking about you would get like uncle Herschel's or whatever and it would be 16 pancakes, 17 eggs, a big huge clump of stuff, hash browns or whatever it was, and then either like grits and all this stuff you never ate, right? Apple stuff and it was this huge and you'd.

Pastor Scott: 28:16 Anyway I'm getting hungry, man. So Cracker Barrel and we're sitting there and a big table. Bunch of friends and a couple. I'm sitting here, Shelly, sitting to your right, to my left and then to her left was a two of our friends who had a little boy. The little boy was about three and a half years old and he's sitting on the other side of the table own chair doing his thing playing with that little game at Cracker Barrel thing and messing around with stuff and then out of nowhere while we're waiting for our food, he says, "Mama, Mama, I'm hungry. He said this, okay, that will make sense in just a moment. He said, "Mama, I'm hungry." And he said that a couple times and finally his mom says, and I'm thinking well the food's coming just chill, right? It's gonna be okay.

Pastor Scott: 29:06 "Mama, I'm hungry."

Pastor Scott: 29:16 She says, Alright, come here." Boy gets up on his own two feet standing like a fully evolved human being. Proceeds to know which direction to go. Walks around the obstacles of the other chairs and stuff. Walks up to his mother and she says, "Hop on up here." And she starts to nurse the boy. And I'm like did this just happen? This is wrong. This shouldn't be. Now I don't know if it should be or not. I'm not the judge, but I was like he was sitting there talking and walked over. Is that how it works? Oh my Lord, is that Shelly, are you gonna be ready for that? Like so the boys enjoying some hors d'oeuvres before the meal arrives, and I'm just thinking this isn't right. I hope you forget that picture when you leave here today.

Pastor Scott: 30:33 It isn't right. When we stop maturing and we stop growing because we accept the statement and behave accordingly that I don't have to go to church to be a Christian. When really to say it a different way, we believe I don't have to go to church to grow spiritually. And we stay often in many ways at that three and a half year old place. Mama.

Pastor Scott: 31:06 Oh, I was going to say something really bad. That would be horrible. I couldn't do that. Oh, I can't get it out of my mind though. Someone said, say it. Uh,uh it's just God's design. It's God's recipe. If we want God's, if we want to experience all that God wants to bring to bear in our life. He is saying to us, not some guy trying to have a bigger church or some gal trying to have a bigger church, God is saying to us, if we want to grow in our faith and experience more of him. We are to gather together to get together, to worship him together, to serve one another so that we can grow. And if you aren't plugged in to your local church and committed to being part of the life of your church, I just encourage you to do so. It's not a selfish thing for me to say that. In fact, and I'm totally honest with this, I'm looking out for your good. It's God's design.

Pastor Scott: 32:14 If Cornerstone is your home, it's your spiritual home, become part of the family. Not just drunk old Joe who visited on Thanksgiving. Become part of the life of the church. Before I pray with you, I want to say something real brief about what we overlook, what we often overlook about the church. That God created the body of believers to be a community for many things. One thing being strength for one another. A lot of us, maybe it's just us guys, maybe it's more of us, men and women, we often think that we're strong enough to go through it on our own. But God, scripture says over and over, you're not strong enough, you're not strong enough to live the life I'm calling you on your own. It's not going to happen. You're going to burn out. You're going to crash. You need the strength of those next to you to lean on. You know when I was going through this season I was actually, and this season wrapped up a couple, a few years ago for me, but when I was going through this, I was speaking at Cornerstone on a regular basis. I believed in what I was saying. I was maybe at times trying to encourage myself when I was trying to encourage you, because that was a very rough season. Linn knew what I was going through. Marty knew what I was going through. It wasn't anything ethical or immoral, none of that kind of stuff was just a really dark place that I was in personally and yet they believed in me enough to say you know, we're with you. Go out there and encourage our people. Because they believe in grace and they believe in God is the healer of broken hearts. A lot of you became my close friends during that time. Carl, are you sitting over here? Carl right there. Carl took me for a ride in his airplane. How cool is that? And he's talking about Jesus flying around, man I get out her around 6:00 AM every morning, I talk to God. He's flying and I'm like, dude, do you like drink Dos Equis or something. You're the most interesting man in the world. This is awesome. This is awesome.

Pastor Scott: 34:34 I can name 20 people right now. If I saw your face right now, I would just not catching you. I spent time in your homes. We went out to coffee together. We had meals together. You prayed with me, you encouraged me. You were strength for me during this season and I thank God for you. Aaron and Larry at your campuses you were strength for me during the season. We overlook this. I don't need to go to church to be a Christian. Well, if you want to live the Christian life, you need the church. If I may say respectfully, to lean on during times of weakness. So I'm going to pray for you. Lean into your church. Become part of the life of your church, and encourage somebody every time you gather.

Pastor Scott: 35:21 Let's pray. Father God, I thank you so much that you've called us to gather together to encourage one another. God says to stir one another up and to be strength from one another. Lord I pray that you would show each of us individually what next step is. To be involved and committed and engaged in the life of the body of Christ, our church, Cornerstone, San Tan, Scottsdale Chandler, wherever we may gather in the future, and we thank you for that. In Jesus name. Amen.

Recorded in Chandler, Arizona.
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Cornerstone Church
1595 S Alma School Road
Chandler, Arizona 85286