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Why would ANYONE want to go to church?

I completely understand.

It’s Sunday morning. You’re awakened by beams of light spilling through your blinds. Rising up, you tie on your bathrobe, walk out the front door to fetch your newspaper when you see the most remarkable sight across the street.

It’s those Andersons again. Dad, Mom hurrying the three little ones into their minivan, en route to their weekly shindig with their Holy Rolling friends. So again you ask yourself something perfectly reasonable: Why would ANYONE want to go to church?

And that, my friend, is a good question.

After all, you’ve been there and done it. You’ve got some compelling reasons to give the whole church thing a pass:

  • You’d rather sleep in.
  • You’ve got better things to do with your Sundays.
  • You’ve had bad experiences with church in the past.
  • It’s boring.
  • The place is full of weird people.
  • They just want your money.
  • They speak in a churchy language you don’t get.
  • You don’t want to be judged by THOSE people.
  • Who would want YOU at their church.
  • The Andersons aren’t so perfect.

These are valid points. If you end up in the wrong church the experience can be negative enough to last a lifetime. Unfortunately, there are many instances of churches behaving badly. Even if you go to the right church, it will have its fill of embarrassing moments. This is because both the good ones and the not so good ones are filled with imperfect people. Sadly, many Christian churches are awkward and clumsy when it comes to welcoming new people.

But before you give up on the concept altogether, you really ought to consider some of the reasons WHY people do go to church. Because if you’re not part of a good congregation, you and your family are missing out on many of the sweeter things of life.

Here are just a few:

Great place to raise a family.
If you’re trying to grow your children in today’s toxic environment, you probably already know the odds are stacked against you. Our kids are sent out as sheep among the wolves in a world of drugs, sex, hatred and violence. And that’s just what they experience on television. When you add the perversions of the Internet, the competitive drama of school life and peer pressure it’s no wonder they are facing such a high risk of suicides, chronic depression, substance abuse and teenage pregnancies. Raising your kids in a church environment helps give them a “code” which can carry them through the difficult times of life. Those times when you’re not around. Your children will also develop healthy friendships and get an entire church family willing to wrap their arms around them, keeping them safe. This is priceless assistance for you during your parenting excursion.

Place to strengthen your marriage.
Going to church won’t guarantee success in your marriage. All couples encounter challenges which can be overwhelming at times. But what is guaranteed at the right church is that you’ll be in a place which honors marriage. You’ll have people around you to share wisdom, encouragement and support to help you experience victory in your relationship.

Great place for healing.
We all hurt at some time. We’ll all fall short. We all struggle. Going to church won’t change, this, but it will mean you won’t have to face these life challenges alone. A strong fellowship will lift you up when you stumble and help dust the dirt off of your knees. If you have disappointments, guilt or shortcomings you’ve carried with you for years, healing is available to you here.

Your social life will improve.
Many people think going to church will crimp their lifestyle. It’s true that it might change, but it’s always for the better. You’ll meet some amazing people who will take genuine interest in who you are. They will be fired up about helping you become the best person you can be. You’ll get incredible opportunities to serve others and to do it with people who also enjoy being a positive influence in the world. Plus a vibrant church will offer a host of fun activities for you and your family.

You won’t have to do life alone.
Even the biggest celebrities struggle with loneliness. That’s because there is a hole in our hearts that can’t be filled with money, fame and career accomplishments. There is a yearning in each of us to be connected with others and to find deep significance in our lives. There is no better place to build meaningful, forever relationships than a healthy church and together you’ll experience the joy of reaching your greater purpose on this planet.

The Bible will start making sense.
There is no question the Bible can be a difficult read at first. It can be like thumbing through a telephone book. But, as you begin to learn more about the background, the history, the characters, the teaching and the wisdom within those pages, it all begins to make sense in a powerful, life-changing way. You’ll discover truths which will transform your understanding of the world around you and you learn how relevant Scripture is to every facet of your journey. Within the walls of an excellent, Bible-teaching church and supplemented with a small group study, you be blown away by your new-found understanding of the bestselling book of all time.

You’ll build a friendship with God.
I know. You might not even be sure there is a God. But isn’t it worth putting in a little time to determine this with certainty for yourself? And some might say, “Why do I need to go to church to be friends with God?” No. You don’t need to go to church to be friends with God. But if you have a genuine friendship with God, you’ll know He wants you to be part of His family and active in His church.

So how exactly does one go to church?
If you paid close attention to the caveats weaved into the text above, you noticed that quality counts when it comes to having a positive, life-changing church experience. Not all which hang a church shingle are the same and many of them aren’t properly teaching what’s in the Bible. Some of them ignore it altogether.

It’s worth doing a little homework. Visit a few and see which one is the best fit for you and your family. A genuine Christian church will teach about Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. It’s it not, walk away. Here are some good questions you should ask when you visit:

  • Are they teaching from the Bible?
  • Is it an authentic Christian church that teaches that Jesus Christ provides the only way to get to Heaven?
  • Are they welcoming to visitors?
  • Do people seem friendly and happy here?
  • Do they have good programs for your whole family?

The easy way is to talk to someone you know and respect who goes to church and ask them if you can be their guest some Sunday.

Most likely, the Andersons would be thrilled if you asked to join them. I’m sure they’ll even give you a ride.

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37 Responses to Why would ANYONE want to go to church?

  1. Wendy says:

    I love to go to church because it is the place where I get to know just a little bit more about God’s love and I get to know it with people who are just like me – sinners who need his love. I know that none of us are perfect but that God wants to reach out to all of us. The homily that the priest gives is usually pretty simple and brief, but it encourages us to know more about the God who wants to wrap his arms around us and put him in the center of our lives. I always walk out of church feeling encouraged and special in God’s eyes.

    I also love to go to church because I know that it is my special place to connect to God. When I don’t feel like I can connect to him anywhere else, I know that I can feel his presence there.

  2. Terry says:

    You have illustrated the real problem with the church today – we are trying to convince people to go to church because it will make their lives better. “Going to church” (whatever that means) might make my marriage better, help my kids, etc., etc., but these things have nothing to do with gathering with believers. It is really hard to understand why anyone without a relationship with Christ would ever want to go to church, unless they are lured in with entertainment or promises that the church is powerless to fulfill. The church cannot make you a stronger family (a relationship with Christ can). The church cannot protect your kids from the word (but a relationship with Christ can). If the “Andersons” (in your story) will develop a relationship with their lazy neighbor and introduce him/her to Christ, going to church with them will be natural.

  3. Terry,
    Thanks for sharing your comments. I agree that we have to be very careful about creating a “what’s in for me church,” that misses its mission. However; I would have to disagree with your line of reasoning. It sounds as if you’re arguing people should come to Christ before they come to church and you wouldn’t even welcome them until their motives are pure. I believe that non-Believers are almost always going to come to church because they are trying to better their lives. The crowds flocked Jesus because the people were miserable and he offered a message of hope. I know it was my case many years ago when I decided I wanted to come to church because I thought it would help me raise my family. It had nothing to do with a righteous, theologically pure motivation. We are taught to start with milk before we progress to meat. The Bible also clearly teaches that understanding of the deeper meanings of the book are impossible without the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with encouraging people to come to church with the idea of improving their lives. That’s not a false promise, it’s absolute truth. But along the way, as you point out, they will learn profound values of fellowship which eclipse any self-help formulas. Starting with milk is just fine.

  4. Thiago says:

    Hello, Michael. I´m from Brazil and I just loved your post. I couldn´t agree more with the things you´ve pointed out, especially with the arguments used at your answer for Terry´s comment. Although many people come to our churches looking for some “instantaneous problem solving tool”, I do think it´s a quite worthy motivation for them to first visiting a church. In addition to all that has already been said about milk, meat and the process of getting to know Jesus and Scripture, we have to consider that not everybody has the privilege to be raised under Christian values and that many places around are offering apparently easier solutions for people´s troubles. Since only Christ is the WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE, we know the kinds of things others are giving out anywhere else are all wrong and spiritually dangerous. If people are coming to us, we have to be thankful and work hard to keep them near. So, they will have the chance be taught of God´s love and also learn how to love Him for what He is and not for what He can give. Indeed, Church cannot do anything for people and neither can it transform a life. However, where else can people have a true encounter with Jesus, the One who can EVERYTHING? It´s important remembering that WE ARE THE CHURCH and we are the ones responsible for making Christ known everywhere we go. As church, we are not the solution itself, but we know who it is and have it within us. If we don´t spread the solution, how will people get to know it? How will they know Jesus?
    Ps: I´d like to post this text in Portuguese on my blog. Can I? Be sure that all due citations are being done.

  5. Thank you for your comments Thiago and I would be honored if you posted it in Portuguese.

  6. Ray says:

    Thank you for a well thought out and interesting article. I will be passing it on to some of my friends.
    Ray

  7. Desiray says:

    I don’t know no other way then to go to church. I’ve been raised in church since I was a baby, my parents took us all the time sometimes three times a week, there was a point in time I thought church was my home because we was there so much.

    It’s not the building itself that gives me strength, but what I get while in the building I get refreshed with a sermon, I come among the other saints and be lifted up and prayed for, I get equipped to do the ministry the Lord has given me. I also know that church begins once I leave the building. So for me church is mandatory. Me being a Christian means I must follow what Jesus said, He went to church when He was in the synagogue teaching the people the word, if He went I must go.

    There is so much a person can get from the body if they would come to church and be apart of the body, for we need one another the hand can’t say to the foot I have no need of thee, we are all many members but have one body. great post I found your site while searching blogs on Networked Blogs and after reading this post you posted I will be back again. God bless and have a great rest of the day.

  8. Your social life will improve, and you won’t have to do life alone? I agree with just about everything else but this. In my experience, church is a place of shallow relationships with people who you see maybe once or twice a week but aren’t really involved in your day-to-day life and aren’t around when things get tough. I wish that were not true, and I have determined not to be that way myself. But in 34 years of attending and even being very involved in ministry in my churches, that has been my experience.

  9. Will Rochow says:

    Thiago is right in saying that “we are the church.” Church is about who we are, not about where we go. It is ironic to me that, while some still speak of inviting others to church, there is at the same time a growing exodus from the church of devout born-again believers. Why? For many the traditional institutional type of church has become irrelevant. As someone has said, “they’re leaving to preserve their faith,” not because they no longer believe. Where are they leaving to? Often it is to smaller organic/simple house churches. My wife and I did that ourselves after leaving the pastorate 10 years ago. We are often still amazed at how much in depth Christian fellowship we have today! It’s huge! We rarely saw that before.

  10. Dawson Lange says:

    I used to use this same list and then I realized that a person could go to church for all of these reasons, experience the good in all of those reasons, and die and spend eternity in hell. I would encourage you to look at this list and church in light of the gospel of Jesus Christ which is sorely lacking in this post. A person has the opportunity to go to church and hear the gospel first and foremost. To hear about the predicament they are in as a holy God must punish their sin and how that same God provided salvation in the person and work of Jesus Christ who died for them. The righteous for the unrighteous. The perfect for the imperfect. The “great exchange”. The gospel must be at the center of the church and for the reasons to go to church otherwise people will just be more morally driven and eventually give up going to church because they can’t be good enough. I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir but the first thing on all lists of “why people go to church” must be THE GOSPEL. The other things can be by-products of the gospel and the great news is that even if the other things never come to fruition: people are mean, their marriage is struggling, their kids are hurting, they don’t feel any better; they have THE GOSPEL. I would encourage you to look over this list and make an amendment by putting Christ at the top. People can come to church to hear the good news of Jesus Christ who paid the penalty for their sin, will empower them with the hope of glory, and promises them an eternal salvation where all wrongs will be righted. *please read this whole post with grace as I have literally preached on the benefits of church and used the same reasons and I left out the hope of glory.
    In Christ,
    Dawson

  11. Dawson,

    Thanks for your comments. I agree with you absolutely. The Gospel is at the core of why we are gathering in fellowship. It’s at the core of our purpose. I also know the Bible teaches we are called to Him. Those of us who have come to faith and have grown in Spiritual maturity know this to be absolutely true. Is this the ONLY reason people would ever come to Church? I’m sorry, but that seems very naive to me and untrue. Can a person come to church for a felt need and then discover a much, richer hope and promise in Jesus? I believe so. Don’t you? This post was designed for people who don’t come to church and don’t understand why people would even bother. It wasn’t meant to give a pastor a reason to show up for work. Many of the people in my life on the front lines of the mission field are in the category of folks who don’t have a deep (or any) understanding of the Gospel and who are hugely distracted by the world. I think it’s okay for them to come initially for practical reasons and I believe we need to guard against a spiritual arrogance that makes church unapproachable to most people. I may be totally wrong, but I’m less concerned about WHY they come as I do that their willing to learn and grow once they get there. Then again, you’re a pastor, so I take your suggestions with a lot of weight. Thanks again for sharing.

  12. Dawson Lange says:

    Michael,

    I hear what you are saying and don’t disagree. People come to church for all kinds of right and wrong reasons and then hopefully hear the gospel. I was just reading your post and felt that the gospel should have been mentioned more. Like I said, put it first and then list other things that can come as by products. The question you posed was, “Why would anyone want to come to church?” Those reasons you listed can be felt needs but I was reading it as if I was an unbeliever and felt that it was pretty much void of the gospel. As you said, “This post was designed for people who don’t come to church and don’t understand why people would even bother.” Don’t you think a little detail on the good news of the gospel would be appropriate? I’m not even saying they will understand right away and you are right that people go to church for all kinds of reasons and then find Christ. I was just disappointed in your post for its lack of gospel clarity when speaking to those who are wondering why they should go to church. Thanks for putting thoughts out there for people to dialogue.

  13. Wendy Fehr says:

    Michael,
    I believe your response to Terry is absolutely correct. Most people begin to consider church when they see the things they want to have (characteristics, lifestyle, relationships) in Christians they know in their everyday life. It is important to remember that we, as Christians, provide the outreach to draw people closer to God. We are his voice. When others see in us the life and character that they want for themselves they begin to ask questions: how, why, what’s different. That is when they begin to seek and that is when God answers.

  14. Dylan Dodson says:

    I liked how you gave all of the “benefits” of church, and then showed what is most important. Well written!

  15. Abigail says:

    Hi!
    I stumbled upon this while I was on Google, and I like it a lot! Very well written. But it doesn’t really tackle the situation I am in, so I thought I’d leave a comment, and ask, if it’s okay! I’m thirteen, and I’ve gone to church ever since I can remember. Three years ago, I moved next to a boy, who has become my best friend. My second year here I bought him a Bible, and he reads it often. He loves chrisitian music, and sometimes I bring him home magazines from my church. He loves talking about God with me, and others…. Hes such a strong believer, and im so proud of him! I’m glad I was able to show him Jesus, and I’m glad he loves Him. But he doesn’t go to church.

    I know the reason why he won’t go: his Mom, and Brother. See, his brother is gay, and his mom is worried that if he goes to church, it will change the love he has for his brother. I know better! Absolutely nothing could change the love my friend has for his brother! Plus, even though Homosexuality isn’t good, we should still love those who are!! Anyway, (sorry I’m getting off track) I invite him every Sunday, and he says he’ll think about it, but he never comes. It kinda sucks….

    Mostly I just try to be calm and understanding, and not try to be disappointed or sad when he says no, but sometimes I can’t help it! I want him to be so focused on Jesus, and I know my church would seriously help him out, but he won’t go. If he does he’s afraid he’ll upset his Mom, and none of us want that… He says he thinks about and I’m trying to be patient…. Anyway, I just got on to see if there’s anything I could do to not be upset when he tells me no, or ways I could convince him more…
    We’re teens, so we don’t have love life’s, or family’s of our own.

    Thank you so much, and sorry for such a long comment!
    God bless,
    -Abigail.

  16. Abigail,
    It’s so impressive of how you are sharing your faith with others. What you are doing in many ways is being the only church your friend knows. His mother will need to get a comfort level at some point to allow him to go and I wouldn’t push it too hard other than praying for the mom to be open to the idea. Keep up the great work! You’re an inspiration to us all.

  17. Audrey says:

    1 Corinthians 12:27
    Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. (NIV)

    1 Corinthians 12:14-23
    Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

    Hebrews 10:25
    Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (NIV)

    Why go to church? Because the BIBLE tells me so!

  18. Michael, I think this is a great post! I love the list of reasons you give for people who choose not to go to church. I tell people — find a good church and go and make it better. Church will do all the things you said it would do. We are to support each other — that is what a good family does and that is what a good church is — a family.

    No, we don’t go for ourselves, what we can get, but if we go to love we will reap what we sow.

  19. Karen Shuff says:

    I enjoyed reading your article. I was raised to go to church by my mother…my father not so much until I started high school. Then we changed churches and he started to go on a regular basis, I had a difficult time with it, because it seemed like we were supposed to change ourselves. However, I enjoy going to church, reading and hearing the word of God. I also take time off of work each summer to teach Bible School. Sometimes it seems that the kids that I teach (3rd, 4th, and 5th graders-it’s a small Bible School in a small church) have no grasp of what is being taught…not because it’s over their heads, but because it isn’t exposed to them.

    I think Romans 3:10 & 23 sum it up for me. As it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

    Whenever I happen to miss a Sunday, I always think of the saying, “A week without church makes one weak.”

  20. Sarah says:

    Yeah I stopped going to church. I was raised in one. Parents took me from the day I was an infant. But after hearing the same junk over and over it made me repell away from it. Blah blah miracles blah blah jesus blah blah. Whatever. Sleeping in and actually enjoying my Sunday doing things I want to do makes me happy. I’m not bashing the people that do go to church, just keep me out of it. I am now a proud atheist. After realizing how much the bible contradicts itself and all the crap, I quit. What really gets me is that they say “women arent allowed to be priests or preachers” and yet they turn around and say “if god calls you to do something, you should do it. So what if god calls a woman to be a preacher or priest? What are you gonna tell her? See. Big issue there. The bible is just a book. Not written by some magic man in the sky but written by a bunch of old dead guys. I don’t know it’s just not my thing. So while you go to church I am going to enjoy my Sunday to the fullest.

  21. Esther says:

    Collectively we are the bride, in love with the Lord Jesus waiting expectantly for the day when we are finally joined together with the groom. But why do we so rarely sense this in our gatherings?

    In some churches I have at times felt the duty to attend, the duty to fulfill programs, the duty to perform well “to the glory of God.” And usually the duty to respectfully sit in silence long hours while listening. This can be drudgery.

    But imagine if each individual was allowed to share and encouraged to live by the life of the Spirit of the Lord Jesus within us, studying the Bible, being ready for gatherings where we can share how Christ has revealed Himself to us–how much different it would be! Minus religion, and there would be joy and life.

  22. Betsy says:

    I have been researching for many years on compelling reasons as to why I should go to church. Unfortunately, your reasons did not register with me as a compelling force to do so, so I will continue to look. Actually several of your reasons are quite comical to me.

    1. Great place to raise a family – I am single and not looking.
    2. Place to strengthen your marriage – I am still single and not looking.
    3. Great place for healing – sometimes issues are best addressed by a professional licensed therapist in the medical field
    4. Your social life will improve – Actually attending takes time after from my social clubs, so it makes it worst because I do not have time to do the things that I enjoy with my work schedule and attending church.
    5. You won’t have to do life alone – the social clubs provide me with companionship so that I am not lonely.
    6. The Bible will start making sense – I have owned and read a KJV of the bible since I was 7 and my reading and comprehension was always many years beyond my age. I understood it the first time that I read it.
    7. You’ll build a friendship with God – One cannot build a friendship with anyone by spending time in groups. It is through alone time that intimacy is obtained.

  23. Candi McKee says:

    Being the vessel-God did something today! Church was held in a park-for the homeless, the mentally challenged and for those who have been told that they “aren’t welcomed in MY church.” God showed up in a mighty way-but that doesn’t surprise us! Did Jesus preach in churches? Would He be welcomed in church? Probably not because He was friends with…prostitutes, sinners, tax-collectors. You have to build relationships with people to get them to see Jesus. Bible Thumping usually doesn’t get them interested in Him. i go to a un-conventional church, and i haven’t been struck down with lightning…yet.

  24. ilima szabo says:

    i became a christian in 1979 and went to bible study and church. i don’t drive, so it was nice to have the church in walking distance. after my hubby (who was a non-believer until 2 weeks before he died) passed away in ’96 i ran a B&B in another town for 6 years. now i moved to hawaii and run a guesthouse for the last 10 years. most sundays i am stuck at home waiting for arrivals, or someone is departing on sunday mornings. i am now widowed again and do things alone. yes i would like to go to church and i wished, again, there was public transportation or i lived close to a church. i am 75. someone on the island said that the pastor lives near me and i gave them my number. it is hard for me to commit myself with so many chores and the guests at home…and they didn’t ever call me anyway from that church. let’s face it, without community involvement and without a car, old people sit alone. everyone else has somebody. that comes with widowhood. my son lives far away and some day he wants to move here. i know God reads this stuff. one day something will work out, His timing. i am pretty happy here in my house though.

  25. Carl Isaacson says:

    First post: A joke about a man who didn’t want to go to church.

    Middle aged man shaken awake by his wife. “Get up. It’s time to go to church!”

    Man: “I don’t want to go! Give me a good reason to go!”

    Woman: “Why don’t you want to go?”

    Man: “The people are hypocrites; I don’t like them; the Children are all grown, so I don’t need help raising children; I’m not sick and don’t need their sympathy for my healing; I’m not looking for a new wife; they can’t sing on key; the biggest reason I don’t want to go is those people don’t like me! Give me a good reason to go!”

    Woman: “First of all, you’re the Pastor! . . . “

  26. On the serious side, I go on Sunday morning because that is where I belong. Even when I am not welcomed warmly (which I am most Sundays), prayed over or pampered, the church is where I belong. Some years ago church bureaucracies (bishops and their assistants) said things to me that indicated they didn’t want me to belong. But this is where I belong and therefore I am there. Some Sundays I’d rather be elsewhere – and some Sundays I am. But most Sundays I feel it and all Sundays and weekdays and evenings and off hours and back times, this is where I belong and from this I draw my identity.

  27. Finally reasons that do not bring me to church:

    I don’t want to “hear again the old old story” without lots of thought about how that ancient message has something to say about my world and my actual life. No platitudes please!

    I don’t need to be “scared” with a threat of eternal damnation in Dante’s hell. I don’t worship that sadistic diety – I don’t think that sadistic diety exists and I will leave a group that does believe that – because that is not where I belong.

  28. People go to church to know the word of God personally and to thank God for His infinite mercy and unfailing grace. And also to have some fellowship with other Christians. But sad to say, as of now, people go to church for the tradition but not with the true essence of it.

  29. Craig Teneycke says:

    I cannot see the purpose in going to church. I know Christians are part of a body, which has many parts, but I do not care about being part of one more social group. I would rather being working on making the world a better place. The fact is when people gather together the intelligence of the group lowers to the lowest common denominator and I have no time in my life for that.

    Here is a Sunday, sit in chair and sing, stand and sing (maybe clap), shake hand with people who are around me, sit and listen to pastor speak, mingle after service, use no brain power to talk to people about their week, sports and everything that does not matter and then leave.

    I think I would be more willing to go to church if the people I when with were smart and dedicated to ripping the gates of Hades off their hings, but their not and so I am not.

  30. Brendan says:

    I think a lot of people who might be interested are put off by the fact that the most fervent church-goers these days seem primarily concerned with using their religion primarily to justify fairly extreme right-wing political views which have little or no relationship with the basic doctrines of Christianity.

    In a nutshell, Christianity is about the annunciation, the crucifixion, and the resurrection, not about how we provide health care, who can have a gun, or who can marry whom.

  31. john says:

    terry I think you are right on target. all the things you said are true. the central reason for going fo church is the saving grace of Jesus Christ. but all those other good things come out of a relationship with Him. They all serve to bring people to contact with him.

  32. Katherine says:

    I am new to Twitter (technology is not my strength) so I just came across this blog today and read the main blog plus the comments with great interest. I have been in both camps (did not go to church–would rather sleep in–church is a bunch of hypocrites that spout Christianity on Sunday, but do not live by Christian principles in their workplace or home). For the past 30 years, I have been a faithful church attendee and am much involved (choir, Sunday School teacher, Bible study, etc). Michael, for the most part I agree with most of your reasons for going to church, but would argue that the primary reasons we should go to church are these: 1) To praise and worship our God and Creator; 2) To learn more about our God, Our Lord Jesus, and the Gospel (the good news of Jesus Christ) so the we can share this good news with others (we are called to witness for Jesus); and 3) To experience the renewal of being in fellowship with other Christians–to hear the Word of the Lord through the reading of the scripture, Sunday School lessons, the pastor’s message, singing praises to our Lord, and being in fellowship with other believers (where two or three are gathered, our Lord is with us). As Christians, we are reborn in Christ and being in church each Sunday is a celebration of that gift of salvation.

  33. Sandy Rawlinson says:

    Thank you for writing about a topic that is long overdo. I was brought up in church and I raised my children in church. Now my child is taking my grandchild to church. Our love for God is our fundamental reason for attending church. I can’t say that was always true for me. I became a Christian as a young girl, but it wasn’t until my early 30′s that I recognized the importance and the benefits of going to church. Subsequently there were challenges as well as tragedy that touched my life. As I drew closer to God for comfort I noticed a desire to attend church. The desire has only grown. Sure I’m human and it’s tough sometimes when it would be so much easier to sleep in and goof off for the day.

    With that said, I’ve been to churches where the message was spot on but the people were impossible for lack of a better word. It didn’t matter what capacity I was involved, I experienced negativity, unkindness and the “I’m more important than you to this church syndrome”. I would go home defeated, sad and sometimes depressed. Where was the love, acceptance and encouragement I was supposed to be getting from God’s people? Well you addressed it here Michael. We are “imperfect” people. We are all sinners with no exclusions.

    We are to keep our eyes on God, worship him, praise him, love him. I want to all the time! I want everyone in the church congregation to be friendly, outgoing, encouraging and nice! It’s taken me years to realize that is just not going to happen. I can however control my behavior. My “choice” is to be friendly, smile and be an encourager. It’s not always easy. As a matter of fact often it’s painfully difficult. Sadly I have had to leave a couple of churches. Thank you Michael for outlining a list of things to look for while searching for a church. If you don’t hear the most important message you will ever hear in your life which is the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross as payment for our sins, then keep searching!

    My love for God who IS my encourager and faithful friend is the reason I will always attend church. I can’t get through my days without Him and because of His unconditional love the least I can do is spend time in His house.

  34. Greg says:

    Hi Mike
    Why indeed?
    I love all of Gods people, and have been a believer for 40 years, but have never been able to bring myself to go to church, or bring my family. We meet with all sorts of Gods children regularly, in every conceivable way and venue, whether its the ladies going to the laundromat together with the kids, guys working on a house fixing project, all our friends kids getting together for sports and a meal and sharing afterwards, camping together etc etc. Some go to church, but absolutely none of them (40 or so) have anywhere near the close and intimate friendship and fellowship at church that they do with each other outside of it.
    The church form and function simply gets in the way of intimacy, transparency, meeting individual needs and just simply dwelling together without an agenda or program.
    We have never once criticized anyone for attending church, but wonder why most that we know complain about it for one or more reasons but still faithfully attend, often with mixed feelings, and sometimes with buried hurts and/or strong disagreements as to policy or missing critical elements.
    So, the post that actually drove me to respond was Abigail’s, back from Feb. 29/2012
    I was doubly pleased to read her loving and tender hearted question given that my oldest daughters name is also Abigail, and they share the same heart, and for the same problem. My Abigail, now 24, became fed up with Christians attitudes toward sinners, including gays, when she was 10, and rejected the whole idea of church, and later God altogether. God was dealing with her pride and she is gradually coming to see that to reject anyone is to reject God. But her heart is as soft and tender toward others as she was a small child. She is motherly and cares sacrificially for several younger girls in her own circles, including a few wayward Christian girls. Several of these girls have been deeply wounded at church, but simply need someone, even one person in their life, to love them with Jesus patient and long suffering love. That person is my church hating, God distrusting daughter Abigail, who cant help loving them because Jesus still lives in her.
    This is getting long so I will shorten it and include two links you and your readers will find fascinating, I hope.
    A PhD student blogger I correspond with has uncovered Martin Luther’s writings about how he and the Protesting church (Protestants) developed the modern church service, as an alternative to the prevailing Roman Catholic mass that everyone was accustomed to . Martin Luther categorically says he did not envision the church service in practice today, for believers. See the references here: http://www.alanknox.net/2008/06/luther-and-non-christian-worship/
    It was for attracting unbelievers who were in the habit of hanging around, watching but not participating.
    Luther had a different kind of gathering in mind for believers, which he outlines in the second link here: http://history.hanover.edu/texts/luthserv.html and which corresponds more to ad hock, organic and unscripted meetings between believers.
    The problem was, as he states, that, like today, most believers in his day wanted to have church services that were for unbelievers; gatherings where a priest or pastor led the service like in Catholic Mass, and the congregation was largely passive.
    After reading this, I was comforted about my own decision decades ago to not attend a mass like church service. I have led a full and rich life of Christian fellowship on a daily basis, and my family have grown strong and filled with love, courage and faith because we are the priesthood that Jesus said He wants us to be, rather than a pew filler.
    Again, please believe me when I say that with sadness, and not judging, because I understand that for most believers, church service attending is all they know and have.
    I hope though, that incrementally, perhaps thru blogs like this, our collective eyes will open wider to see that God wants us to burst the wine skin of old traditions and comfort zones in the church, and pour out the new wine (His indwelling life overflowing out of us) into new wineskins. (other families, communities etc)
    To make the point, if Abigail lived anywhere near us, my kids would have immediately begun to pray and act toward including her friends gay brother in their lives, in order to share Jesus with him. We would have gotten together and creatively figured out, by hook or by crook, ways to include that whole family into our lives, so they could touch and breath the love of Jesus through our friendship.
    Sadly, many, and maybe most churches have an attitude of ‘come to us’ rather than Jesus attitude of ‘go out and make disciples’.
    I think that’s what Abigail was asking for.
    blessings
    Greg

  35. Bindu says:

    Terry this is a beautiful article,well written,enriching and so complete. God bless u.Just shared it on facebook.

  36. Nathan says:

    Greg,

    Loved reading your post. Can one lead a Christ centered life and socialize, spread God’s word without regularly attending Church? The answer is Yes, you have proven a prime example of that. But there’s a few key points here, you seem to mention or indicate that you have lived this Christ filled life on your own, which is the complete opposite. Your family and friends that you mention spending intimate time, conversation and interaction with that are fellow believers are the Church.

    I realize your main indication in writing the response was to relate to the church not being as it necessarily should be today, don’t you think that creates an even GREATER need for YOU to be in the church today? You, along with others that see this, should be helping to guide the church, the people, to live in a way that glorifies Christ in all we do. To live in a way that our actions expand past the walls of the church or mundane small talk, but rather ingrained in each others lives helping to lead them to Christ.

    Many pastors want to create an environment of enhanced personal interaction and experiences for people. Friendships that transcend to much more than an hour service. But if there’s no one willing to help create and facilitate these behaviors and actions, how can the church adequately represent Christ? If the men and women who see the truth are willing to live among themselves and their immediate friends, and separate themselves from the rest of the body how are we helping to strengthen others.

    Won’t be only see more cases of the Abigails? More cases of individuals saying no one really cares about me? More cases of the deterioration of society and the church? Christ calls us to spread the truth throughout the whole world, this also includes within the church.

    There are many churches that have created what I envision a Christlike church. A group of individuals, connected to Christ, coming together for the greater good. To encourage and build one another up. To help inspire one another to live daily in Christ footsteps and to evangelize to the world as we are called. To not think of the church as four walls, but to envision it as the faces of those who have taken up Christ call. Christ has called us to meet together and to witness together, if anyone is unhappy with how your local church is following Christ message, than we should seek change or be that change within the church.

    Perhaps Abigails sons/daughters may not be as strong in their faith as you and may need individuals such as yourself to guide them, but if those individuals are not part of the church or willing to help, what will happen to them? Will they just become heavily influenced by the individuals around them?

    The Church certainly needs some work, after all that’s why Christ died for us. But to just say you are better off without it, may be hurting many more peoples spiritual journies than you imagined.

    Nate

  37. Mike says:

    Honestly, I gave up going to church. I am not giving up my faith, just on the church. Since I have stopped going, I feel more like myself and that is a good thing. In most of the churches that I have gone to (about 10 to 20-so I have done the whole try to find the right church thing) are primarily focused on an audience that is not suited to someone like me.

    My attitude is that I can always learn the Biblical languages and study up on my own, thus cutting out the need for someone else to discern the Bible for me. I feel that grows my faith more than being a part of a community of other believers. I love the research on my own and I love discussing what I learn with close friends who are of the same mindset. This creates a better sense of community than going to listen to a preacher try to discern something for me as an individual.

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