I have a relative who stopped going to Church (Baptist) and feels she does not have to go to church to be a Christian. I asked her about Communion and she said if she prays God will forgive her sins. What should I say to her?
The Bible certainly instructs Christians to assemble in God’s house and worship him. “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25). One of the blessings of corporate worship, as the Hebrews passage indicates, is mutual encouragement. Your presence at worship services is an encouragement to others, while you receive encouragement from the presence of fellow believers.
Other blessings of corporate worship, to name a few, are: hearing the good news from a fellow believer that our sins are forgiven through Jesus Christ, listening to Scripture read and explained and applied to life, receiving the Lord’s Supper, joining our hearts and voices with fellow Christians in song and prayer, and giving back to God the money he has entrusted to us, for the worldwide work of the church. Corporate worship is a way of carrying out the Lord’s instruction: “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts” (Colossians 3:16). When we realize what blessings there are in corporate worship, the psalmist’s attitude becomes ours: “I rejoiced with those who said to me: ‘Let us go to the house of the LORD’” (Psalm 122:1)
Finally, you can pass along to your relative that prayer is not a means of grace. Through prayer, Christians communicate with God. Through the gospel in word and sacrament, God delivers his message of forgiveness.
God bless your conversations!