By: Tania Harris
If we can all hear God’s voice for ourselves, do we still need to go to church?
The answer is, no.
You don’t need to go to church, visit a holy place or listen to a preacher to hear God’s voice. That was how it used to be under the Old Covenant. Back then, the only way to hear God’s voice was via his chosen mouthpieces – the prophets (eg. Numbers 11:24, Jeremiah 1:5,9).
After the coming of Jesus, God’s Spirit was sent to all people: “sons and daughters, “young and old” (Acts 2:16,17), so that everyone could hear his voice in the same way the prophets did. Under the New Covenant, the Holy Spirit acts as the continuing voice of Jesus who speaks to us wherever we go. As the Apostle Paul describes it, each one of us is now the “temple” of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19).
Personally I find God talks to me when I least expect it – when I’m in the shower or brushing my teeth! In other words, we don’t need a worship service, a church steeple or a liturgy to hear from God. This is why the new covenant is so much better than the old (Hebrews 8:6). Everyone who chooses to follow Jesus has access to his voice (John 10:27) regardless of where we are or who we are.
However, while you don’t need to be in church to hear from God, it’s far easier to recognise his voice when you are. Remember the church is not a building, but the gathering of God’s people. That means, the more you are in healthy relationship with those who know God, the easier it will be to hear his voice.
There’s a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, in church we learn what God is like through the life and teachings of Jesus. This is the purpose of sermons. When we know what God is like, we can more easily discern what it is he is saying to us.
Secondly, God uses other people to confirm his messages. Since we can so easily get it wrong, having more than one “witness” provides a measure of safety and accountability. When two or three agree on an issue, it’s more likely that the testimony is true. I can’t tell you how many times, God has spoken to me, then a fellow Christian has called saying: “Tania, I saw this vision about you” and it repeated precisely what I had heard. It is in the community of God’s people that God speaks most loudly and clearly.
Jesus called the church to bring his plan to the earth and be the means through which we would follow him (Matthew 16:18). But the church can sometimes be a confusing place. In the podcast below, we talk about the nature of church and how God uses it to help us hear his voice. We also discuss a number of different questions people ask about the church:
Why are there so many different types?
Can I be a Christian and not go to church?
How do I find the right church for me? and
What if I’ve been hurt by the church?
Whether you’re a churchgoer or not, we pray that this podcast helps you in your own God-conversations!
Article and podcast supplied with thanks to God Conversations.
About the Author: Tania Harris is a pastor, speaker, author and the founder of God Conversations.