A friend read one of my prior blogs and suggested I write on why I go to church. She stated that since church attendance is declining in the United States, my family and I are “counter-cultural”, and I should write about that.
Hmm…I’ve never considered myself or my family counter-cultural.
For me, attending church is a way of life: I don’t wake up on Sunday mornings wondering if I should go to church just as I don’t wake up during the week questioning if I should go to work. Five days a week I go to work, one day a week is somewhat open, and one day a week I go to church. Those decisions are already made.
The main reason I attend church is because I want to strengthen my spiritual life, and church is my foundation for that pursuit. One day a week, I pray, sing, and listen to a sermon that will challenge me to model my life more closely with the life of Jesus. It’s a weekly spiritual tune-up that sets the tone for the rest of the week and keeps me committed to daily spiritual disciplines.
Another friend of mine is a committed Christ-follower, but not a church goer. If she were proofing this blog, she would note that one doesn’t have to attend church to follow Jesus. And I believe she is correct.
But it’s a lot harder to do something alone than with others. If I had to rely on myself to apply the Gospel of Christ to my life, I’d probably get distracted and disoriented. My scheduled tune-up provides guidance, support, and friends to share it with.
Lots of people I love are not in the church world, so I’ve heard most of the criticism that’s out there:
· Throughout history, the church has done awful things in the name of God. True. No one can erase this history, but a balanced view shows the church has also been extravagant in meeting the needs of people who suffer. I feel I can best influence the church for good by being part of it.
· The church isn’t relevant to my life. Some churches may not be relevant or mission-focused, but it’s unfair to lump all of them into that one category.
· I know some pious people who attend church but are still generally unkind people. Me too. I avoid letting them influence me. I also know people who are not religious but are caring, ethical, kind people.
For every church that’s not following its mission, there are many more comprised of good, solid people trying to understand God’s presence in their life. I choose to journey through life with them, and it’s been the right decision for me and my family. And I have the privilege of working for an institution that is a coalition of 41 churches (Christian Community Service Center) who set aside theological differences to help the poor in our community. I see firsthand how churches enhance their communities.