Younger generations tend to be more suspicious of “institutional church.” Perhaps they’ve been burned by them or just turned off by people who are a part of them, but show no fruit of the faith they profess.
This attitude is represented in a somewhat recent book entitled, How to be a Christian Without Going to Church, by Kelly Bean. She maintains it’s possible to be a Christian without going to church.
This is not a new issue. People have been asking this question for decades. But is it true?
The short of it is this: to love Jesus is to love the church. To abandon the church is to abandon Jesus.
How so? Remember the apostle Paul’s pre-conversion past? He led the way in imprisoning and executing Christians. When Jesus confronts him on the Damascus road, what did Jesus say? “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” Jesus so identifies himself with the church that he tells Saul what he’s doing to Christians, he’s doing to Him!
The “me and Jesus land” that more and more people live in is biblically indefensible. Jesus never separates himself from the church. They are an inseparable unity: just like the one flesh union of husband and wife which is suppose to illustrate Jesus’ union with the church. Of course, how one defines ‘church’ is critical to the conversation, but for another time. To love Jesus is to love the church. To abandon the church is to abandon Jesus.