Monday, January 4, 2010

Why Church?

For the past year and a half, Bruce and I have taught the High School Sunday School class at our church in Georgia.  Let me tell you - if you have never sat down with a high schooler and asked them their thoughts on faith, you really should.  You will most likely be blown away by the questions they ask and the insights that they offer.

Yesterday's class focused on why we go to church on Sunday and what is important in worship.  We went in and posed the question, "Name five things you would rather be doing on a Sunday morning other than going to church?"

Personally, I had plenty of ways to answer that question.  And I am a seminary student.  Who plans on leading worship on Sunday mornings as my vocation.

And yet - I couldn't even limit myself to five things.  I think I had six.

Maybe seven.

Anyway - nothing that anybody said was a shock to me.  There was talk of sleeping, gym time, watching football, playing on the internet, horse back riding, studying, cooking/baking, cleaning, hunting, camping and hiking.  All things that would make for a pleasant and relaxing last morning of the weekend.

We then posed a series of statements - and they were to say that they agreed/disagreed with the statement.  One in particular said, "You have to go to church on Sunday in order to be a Christian."  Unanimously the answer was NO.

And yet - there we all sat.  In Sunday School.  After sitting through the 10:00 worship service.  Clearly - there were other things that we would have enjoyed doing.  But we sat there - sans cell phones and iPods - and worshipped together and learned together.

So why church?  What is it about church?  I am hard pressed to believe that it's really the free coffee, sweets and goldfish that keep people coming back week after week.  No.  There is definitely something else going on.

I'd love to be able to tell you why I go to church on Sunday morning.  But I can't.  Because - to be quite honest, I don't really know.  I don't think that going to church makes me a Christian, or even a good Christian at that.  But I keep going back.

So why church?  Why do we go?  Why bother?

I would love to tell you why I go to church, why I sometimes choose to take a week off and why I think that we need to stop focusing on Sunday morning when it comes to how we can be "the Church".  But that's another post for another day (since I'm sure I've lost half of you to my ramblings by now anyway). So stay tuned.

In the meantime ... why do you all choose to go to church?  Choose not to?  Go sometimes?  I'd love to hear.

Until next time ...


  1. From a pastor's point of view, I always ask myself the same question- why are people here this morning? Especially when I look out into the congregation and see bored looking faces, people yawning, or people reading their worship bulletin with the announcements. I don't think that people prepare to come to worship God a lot of the time. In my opinion, church has become a habit or tradition for many people. It's just what you do, and there isn't much thought behind it. Also, people come to connect with other people, and some people (and I'm totally serious, because we have people who do this) just come for the cookies and juice! Either way, I hope that at some point, those of us who are in ministry can find ways to constantly remind people why we come to church and to prepare our hearts to worship. There's my 2 cents :)

  2. I think one of the most important things that I've learned about my faith in the last couple of years is that its important remember that we don't GO to church, we ARE the church. A lot of the churches I've attended were nothing more than a place that people went out of obligation or for the sense of community. However, at Bucknell, I've met some great people through intervarsity who I consider to truly be the members of God's church. Thursday night meetings (large group) are the best type of church I've ever attended, because everyone there is excited to worship God with heartfelt song and hear an inspired message from a local pastor or volunteer speaker. Even the cheerful banter that goes on before and after the meeting is focused on loving and supporting each other, asking how each others' weeks have been and supporting each others' faiths. As you and Bruce move forward with your growing involvement in ministry, I hope you guys can find a way to promote that sort of atmosphere. I'd go to that church without fail :)

  3. It's hard to explain what the feeling is, so for simplicity's sake, I will call it fear. The main reason I do not attend church is because i'm afraid of the negative feelings it will provoke - whether it's anger, sadness, guilt, etc... so I simply avoid it.

  4. I often find myself wondering why I don't go to church. I haven't gone since 2007 when I left for school. I mean, maybe I went once or twice but not because I wanted to go and that makes me sad. I mean, I'm a PK who doesn't go to church. That's a big deal to me. And in all my wondering, and a push to reflect prompted by your post, I've finally realized why.

    I've never felt like going to church was a choice for me. It was a chore and I still feel that way sometimes. When I left for school, I felt like I finally had the freedom to decide how I wanted to explore my religion and how I felt I needed to worship. But that turned into not going to church simply because I've done it all my life and I'm tired of it. Not tired of my faith, but tired of feeling like I have to go to church because my father's a pastor, it's how I've been raised, my bible teacher told me to go, my mother will be upset, etc.

    I will eventually go back to attending church on a regular basis but right now I feel resentful of it and I don't want to bring those feelings and that attitude with me into the church.

  5. I was always taught that you go to church for three reasons:

    1. Because He said "where two or three are assembled in my name, I am there among them," making the power of prayer stronger and hearts more open to His word.

    2. Because Jesus said "You will know them by their fruits," and and going to church is an outwardly sign of one's "fruit of the Spirit". (Although it was always stressed that going to church does not make you a Christian, just that Christians should go to church because)

    3. For fellowship with other Christians, helping to keep us "walking in the light."

    I grew up going to a very strict Baptist church at least 3 times a week- those points were ingrained in me early on :) When I would complain, my mom would always say something like- look at all the Lord has blessed you with- The very least you can do is spend a few hours a week obeying, praising, thanking and Him! But I always looked at it like I look at working out- the longer I go without doing it, the less I want to, the more I eat, and the worse I feel. But when I work out, even though I may not want to, afterward I feel better, I eat healthier, and I start making it a habit again. Does that make sense?

    Great topic and I post!!

  6. Hey Sarah! Just wanted to tell you I hope you have a nice little internet vacation! Those are always nice!

    As for why I don't go to church, I think you already know my struggles from reading my blog. I really would like to get back into church, but it's just finding the right fit. I really just want to find a non-denominational church where that's not too big or too small. I really want our kids to be raised growing up in church so that we can lay a good foundation for them. me, it's not that going to church makes you a better person, it's just being around other believers and hearing God's word.


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