I have a friend whose dad tells the family that God told him the family should not go to church. How should I respond?
God does not tell people anything contrary to, or without Scripture. Scripture tells us that “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son” (Hebrews 1:1-2). God has done this through the Bible.
Many people these days say, “God told me….” and then they proceed to give a detailed record of what it was. When your friend’s dad says that God told him the family should not go to church, the questions should be, “Where in the Bible did God tell you that?” It will soon become clear that God in fact tells us just the opposite: “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25). People who purposely, willfully, and deliberately forsake the gathering of God’s people, are disobeying the clear command of Scripture. That is what you friend’s father is proposing, and God did not tell him that!
In the Heidelberg Catechism we confess that on the Sabbath God requires us to frequent the church of God, to hear His Word, to use the sacraments, to publicly call upon the Lord, and to contribute to the relief of the poor, as becomes a Christian (Lord’s Day 38). It is clear from Scripture and the catechism that your friend’s father is wrong, and that he is going in a dangerous direction. Encourage your friend to lovingly speak with his father and try to persuade him to always have the Bible as his guide for faith and life.