By Britnee Bradshaw, iBelieve.com
Biblically, there is no hard and fast rule that a married couple has to attend the same church. In regards to attending church in general, Paul says this in the book of Hebrews: “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25).
There is the expectation that believers not neglect meeting together to encourage and edify one another. So then, in a marriage where the Lord is the head, both spouses should belong to a home church or a gathering with other believers. Many people say that church itself is not a building, and that we are the church. To that, I would agree. Church is wherever we are because we house the Holy Spirit.
This, however, does not excuse someone from regularly gathering with other believers! There is an anointing, a power, and a revelation that is present in the company of others that simply isn’t present when we forego meeting. Put another way, the Holy Spirit pours out differently amongst a group of believers than He does when we are alone.
The Problem with Not Attending Church
I wanted to lay this foundation because, if two spouses who are believers aren’t attending church at all, whether separately or together, that more than likely points to a foundational problem in the marriage. If this is the case, then the couple in question should come into alignment with the word of God and find a bible-teaching church so that they can edify others, as well as be edified.
With that said, I’d like to address two different scenarios, while trying to be as biblically sound as possible. While every issue we have may not be answered in black and white in Scripture, I certainly believe we can find the pieces within Scripture that point us to a Godly way of handling each circumstance.
Scenario #1: My Spouse is a Believer, but Doesn't Attend Church
There is something about marriage that is so mysteriously beautiful. Man and wife—it is a reflection of Christ and the church. There is a love and a unity that marriage exemplifies to the world.
Scripture tells us that it is by our love for one another that the world will know that we are true disciples of Jesus (John 13:35). It also tells us that we should be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3).
As married individuals, there is a standard of love, unity, and peace, that we should seek to build with our spouses. Since, when we are married, we are joined to and become one with our spouse, I believe a married couple that attends church together is a demonstration of the unity, the peace, and the love that we are supposed to abide in.
What the Bible Says about the Beauty of Going to Church with Our Spouse
Romans 12:4-5 says this: “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” Since we are part of, and expected to meet together with, the wider body of Christ (as we are members), why would we choose to attend church without our spouse, who we are considered by God to be spiritually one?
I don’t think it’s okay if one spouse attends church and the other doesn’t. Especially if doing so can be avoided. It’s too much of an open door for the enemy to come into the marriage and attack the unity of it. I know that there are some circumstances where we simply can’t attend with our spouse, like military duty, sickness, etc. I know that God gives grace for those types of situations. But, I believe that as far as we are able, we should attend church with our spouse, not separate from them. I believe this honors God.
Scenario #2: My Husband/Wife Doesn't Do Ministry as Much as I Do
I think this scenario is a bit more subjective than the first one. As I’ve learned, it isn’t right of us to assume that our spouse is supposed to be doing the same things in the Kingdom as we are. God has given all of His children different gifts and anointings. This means that what our spouses are called to do may not look the same as what we are called to do. It’s not right to compare, be jealous of, or desire the work of another person, especially our spouse.
Scripture says that to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:7).
So let’s look at an example: I may be very good at teaching on the prophetic; in fact, prophecy may be one of my spiritual gifts. So, I have the grace of God on my life to learn about and to enter into the ministry of teaching others about the prophetic. On the flip side, my husband may not be a prophetic teacher. Let’s say he is an entrepreneur. It would be wrong of me to measure my husband based on how much he serves in the prophetic ministry. Or worse, to compare his involvement with the prophetic ministry to my own.
If You're Concerned about You Spouse's Lack of Involvement in Ministry
I believe if we are truly concerned about our spouses lack of serving we should be praying on their behalf that the Lord would open a door for them to serve in the area that would best bring them into alignment with the perfect will of God for their lives.
I hope this information helps you in praying for and encouraging your spouse when it comes to their involvement with your church. I also hopes that it gives you peace and encouragement as well if these are areas you deal with. I believe that God is honored when we do things with our spouse, and when we allow the Holy Spirit to guide them into the right ministries to serve and to be a blessing!
Britnee Bradshaw is a free-spirited, Old Navy-wearin', coffee-shop lovin', wife and momma. She serves in the worship ministry with her husband at their home church in Glendale, AZ and writes with the sole purpose of pointing others to Christ. You can catch up with her on her blog or via social media @b_brdshw!