Thursday, April 28, 2016

Why Go to Church?

Why should believers go to church? There are a lot of excuses one could give for blowing it off:
  • Church folk are nothing but hypocrites
  • Their idea of worship is not my idea
  • All they do is ask for money
  • It's too irrelevant, too loud, too impersonal, too ________...
  • I am not genuinely needed, wanted and won't be missed
  • I've got better things to do
  • When else can I shop or do my household chores?
There are some reasons, which traditionally have been offered, as to why we should go:
  1. to maintain social cohesion
  2. because of necessary, clerically performed rituals within the context of structured liturgies
  3. to derive a benefit from what is offered there
  4. because it's the "right" thing to do.
I submit that none of the suggested excuses for not going, nor most of the traditional reasons cited for doing so are valid. They are mere rationalizations without any spiritual merit.

The scriptures tell us that together we are the body of Christ, and the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. So...
We gather as the church because we are connected with unseen bonds.
We gather as the church because we acknowledge the truth of how God sees us (as one in Christ).
We gather as the church because we need the gifts of others and we need to be the vector of gifts for others.
We gather as the church because the Bible tells us to do so.
If someone is so disillusioned with church that he or she doesn't want to go anymore, that one should do some serious soul searching. Has he or she been going for the right reasons in the first place? Has that one given his or herself fully to being a benefit to the church rather than deriving a benefit from it? Does that person believe that God changed his mind about this whole issue?

If someone is not motivated enough, or too occupied or distracted with discretionary things to go to church, he or she needs to change. Church exists because God selflessly loved us enough to do something about our lostness. Christ has called us to himself and to each other for all eternity. If we're not grasping that and are capable of treating church like we treat the choice of which grocer to use, we don't understand Jesus--not his plans for us, not what he calls us to, and not what he's making us to be.

Maybe we don't truly believe in Jesus at all! 

I am a pastor committed to church, but I have also been a lay person going to church reluctantly. I know what it's like to go to church hoping for inspiration only to find frustration. I know what it's like having a bad week and wanting to hibernate, or what it's like to have an option that seems better to the flesh. I even know what it's like to feel as if you've disappeared into the background of an impersonal institution and that it's of no use anyway.


I also know that the trying of our faith brings forth a peaceable fruit. In life on this side of eternity nothing is perfect. Church is not, church people are not, and pastors are anything but. Despite all that brokenness, perseverance in church going is God's will for us. When we faithfully commit to it, despite the drama and flaws, we become a blessing to others and blessing comes back to us.

Wait a minute... blessing in the midst of brokenness... on second thought, that sounds exactly like what something that's of Christ should look like on this side of eternity.

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