Becky has inspired me to give my 2 cents.
First, I don’t know how you can live on this earth without believing in God. It overwhelms me.
However, I think the topic of church is separate from the topic of God. They overlap, of course, but each deserves its own discussion. “The Existence of God” is a discussion I neither feel worthy to conduct nor aggressive enough to attempt so I’ll leave well enough alone. So– is church necessary?
In my experience, which has (arguably) been brief and fenced, church is a positive influence. There are those who have negative feelings toward the “establishment” of church whether because of real or perceived negative experiences in a church or with those, in one way or another, representing a church. This is unfortunate. Personally, I cannot recall a decidedly negative memory of church. For most of my life, I remember my closest friends being those I met through church. Some of my fondest memories of childhood through my young adult life revolve around people I know through my church. Perhaps I’m just lucky to have these thoughts and memories. Though I’ve come to realize that the environment at church varies greatly from religion to religion and by denomination — I think the environment at church is a positive one. (I am open to the notion that I am just lucky to be a Methodist!)
So, church is good. So, is it necessary? I’m not sure. I’m not aware of a “Thou must go to church” commandment or any other such rules in the Bible — though that doesn’t mean there aren’t any… Most humans need a certain level of discipline and routine in their lives and church is a way to gather with others to discuss and learn, but if you are seasoned and self-reliant enough to go it alone — I salute you — though you may try checking-in with the rest of us now and then.
(Let’s pretend you asked my advice) A few suggestions:
1. If you haven’t been to church in awhile, you should “try it again, for the first time”. As you age, you change more than you think and in different stages of your life you’ll recognize and appreciate different influences and stimuli. Different people/things may encourage or inspire you in different ways.
2. It may help you to try a different church or denomination to get some fresh thinking. Try a smaller/bigger church or one in a different part of town, attend service at a different time of day or a “contemporary” (vs traditional) service– The church environment that is/was right for your parents and family may not be the same that is right for you.
3. If church isn’t your thing, for whatever reason, and you don’t thrive on the fellowship that seems to inspire others in your life — try reading and studying on your own. There are plenty of people in the world who are believers but don’t have access to a regularly scheduled church service. They find other ways to be close to God.
4. Be progressive enough to be able to consider different things. Don’t dismiss suggestions without thought and don’t blindly follow one path or another. Know yourself and be confident your decisions are yours.
Disclaimer: The longer I live, the more I realize that my thoughts and opinions are not translatable to universal truth– though sometimes (I think) it’d be easier if they were…