Thursday, October 21, 2010

7 reasons why I still go to church

boy_in_churchSince I’m curious why people quit going to church (one reason is boredom), I also wonder why people still do go to church.*

* (Honestly, I dislike the phrase go to church. If you’re a believer in Jesus, you are the church, so wherever you go, there is the church. Nonetheless, when I say go to church, hopefully you know what I mean...)

Here’s why I still go to church: 

7. I get fed there
Not just the potlucks (they’re great, too). But my soul is fed through spiritual conversations with spiritual people talking about spiritual things, i.e. real life.

I need these consistent, truth-filled meals so I can live and love the way God wants me to live and love when I leave there. 

6. I am needed there
I learn about people I can help, situations I can pray for, things I can do, skills I can share, both in and outside the church.

I need to share what I’ve been given. I need to exercise selflessness so I won’t get bloated. It honors God, it helps others, and it blesses me. 

5. I get my needs met there
I need help, too,
in different ways at different times. But always, I need help in fighting the good fight, finishing the race, keeping the faith.

My friends there pray for me; they share truths with me; they encourage me to keep loving God for his glory and my good. 

4. I am reminded there
Of who God is. Of how big he is. And of who I am. And how SMALL I am. I need to remember both. Not because it takes me on a guilt trip, but on a grace trip.

I’m reminded I’m so loved that Jesus died on the cross for me. That he defeated death so I’d have life. That I can share him with others who haven’t met him yet.

3. I love there
My friends are there. Everyone who shows up is a potential eternal roommate.

I want to learn to love them now, to listen to their stories, and to help bear their burdens, showing them through me that Jesus loves them.

2. I am loved there
People there know who I am and Who I belong to. When I’m sad, they’re sad with me. Or when I’m happy, they smile, too. When I need forgiveness, they show me grace.

When they wrap their arms around me, I feel God’s arms wrapped around me, too.

1. God is there
I know: God is here, too. But there, I get to see him not only through my eyes, but also through the eyes of others. I experience him in more ways than my own. I learn new ways to worship him and new people to worship him with and new things to worship him for. I share where he’s intersected my life and I hear how he’s been loving on others. I see how he is real, active, and holy.

Still, going to church is not always easy. It takes time. Energy. Emotions. Sometimes I fight against it—I’m too tired or too busy or too down. 

But I’ve been given a grace to go. So I show up. And I’m always glad I do. Because God shows up, too.

* * *

What reasons can you add why you go or don’t go to church?

Related:

31 comments:

Stephani said...

Even Jesus went to the temple. We are called to "not forsake the gathering." It is a collective act of worship. We do it to bring joy to God. Hopefully I will learn and be fed there, but ultimately it pleases the Lord to have his children come before him to worship, praise, teach, and learn about him and do it collectively. Individually we are silos, together we are the church. Thanks Lisa!

Brian Miller said...

gathering with a community in faith is a huge part of the spiritual walk...easily overlooked in the busyness of life...

Kay said...

"Potential eternal roommate" ...never quite heard it phrased like that before, but I really like the way that sounds. :)

Lisa notes... said...

Stephani,
Nice additions to the list. I don’t think I really understood the “bringing joy to God” reason for a long time, but I’m glad I’ve discovered that when I bring joy to Him, He returns joy back to me. I like your silo analogy, too. Thanks.

Brian,
Yes, I think the busyness of life is probably a huge deterrent for many folks. That's why getting in a habit of going (for better or worse) at least helps me carve out the time without having to schedule it every week. I just have to remind myself that I DO still need to think about why I'm going though, and not just out of habit. Thanks for adding your thoughts.


Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,
to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Ephesians 3:20-21

Hollie said...

Nice post Lisa! My primary reason is the same as Stephanie's :)

Carrie said...

Amen to these reasons! It's nice to hear a list of why someone DOES go to church instead of why they don't. Thanks for spelling that out!

Lisa notes... said...

Kay,
Ed prompted that thought [eternal roommates] a few weeks ago, although those weren’t his exact words. He said he tries to be extra cautious in particular with male/female friendships because he didn’t want to mess up a friendship now that he wants to have eternally. It stuck with me.

Hollie and Carrie,
It's nice to be in good company. :-) I looked up a couple websites lately on why people DON'T go to church, and it made me sad. That's what prompted me to think about why many of us still DO go.

Trisha said...

We're not to forsake this gathering of the saints, and there is much accountability that is very important to Christian growth. Not being part of a body often leads to leaning on our own understanding...a very dangerous place to be. Great encouragement, Lisa.

elizabeth said...

Your posts always make me think...so glad we met here. My life is richer because of you dear friend.

Lisa notes... said...

Trisha,
I just saw this tweet from Don Miller that goes right along with your comment:

"Not having people around who can show us our blind spots is a sure path toward self destruction." @donmilleris

(It was referring to his post here:
"Do you have a team of good life editors?")

That accountability we have with each other has saved me more than one time. Definitely a biggie. And leaning on my OWN understanding has led me astray more than once…I unfortunately discovered I could rationalize even obviously black and white issues.

Elizabeth,
Thank you. I feel the same. I always get so much from reading your blog and comments. It’s been a delightful discovery to me that my blogging friends have become a wonderful on-line extension to my church family.

AveryHome said...

Lisa, I love your list! There are so many blessings and insights that we'd miss if we didn't go. My favorite is that God is there! I know He's with us everywhere we go, but being there in fellowship with other believers and in His presence at the same time is SO powerful. Great post!

ed cyzewski said...

I really like number 3. That moves us away from going to church only to receive and turns us into fellow ministers to one another.

I would add "service" or "mission" to the list since I view church as a kind of assembly point for organizing and retooling so we can serve our community and throughout the world. That sort of goes with #3, but it's a slightly different twist on it.

Barbara H. said...

I've been thinking about writing a post on reasons to go to church. This covers most of them! Great post.

Kati patrianoceu said...

I totally struggle with going to church! I go for the people, for the reminder that I'm part of a larger community, and for the discipline it instills. Sadly, I haven't had a lot of experience of your reasons. It's amazing how much of a challenge this question is to so many of us. Thanks for sharing your thoughts; they are encouraging.

Bonnie Gray said...

Lisa, I love how you are practical and also inspiring. How do you do that? :) It does take energy to go to church. I'm so glad I've had the practice of just dragging myself there when I don't want to, 'cuz I learn over time, the wonderful points you illuminate here. If I gave up, I wouldv'e never seen how God can change my mind. He always does. ;) Thanks for this great post in the jam, Lisa!

Melissa_Rae said...

This is such a great list! I echo what others have said, it's refreshing to see a list of why you do go instead of why you don't go. I primarily go to church because it's a habit I've formed. The benefit is all the reasons you've listed, but the base of it all for me is that I would feel strange not going. I don't know if that's a good reason or a bad reason, but it's a reason. :)

emily wierenga said...

oooh friend, this is good. and hard. and good. for a long time, i've struggled with the institutionalization of church... so i love that you clarify that we are the church body. and that you go because you can know God as being big and good and loving there. and the loving--the people loving. that's why i go too. because i see God in the men's arms around their wives, and the children singing, and the pastor crying. thank you for this link. xo

Sheryl said...

Another reason for me is that it's the other side of the partnership I work in all week. Missions doesn't exist without the Church. It balances my week and adds perspective in many ways.

Sharon Cohen said...

I avoided church attendance for at least half of my life - because I did not "fit in". I felt that I was outside the effects of the Atonement - unsalvageable, unredeemable, cursed. Oh how I did underestimate the power of Christ - and the love of Christ for me. I attend church "religiously" to reach out to that one, who is as I once was; who wanders in and hopes that they have found Home.

Thanks for asking. I had not reflected on that in some time. You've got a new follower in me.

Hi, I'm Sharon. I'm here from Emily's Imperfect Prose, enjoying each link and inviting everyone to stop in for my contribution, #47 Hearten Soul, Communication.

Debbie said...

Lisa, what a great list of reasons. For many years, I claimed to be a Christian but didn't go to church. I reasoned that I didn't need to go to a building and that I could pray and read my bible. But about 15 years ago at my grandmother's funeral I was so convicted by the Holy Spirit. I wasn't growing in my faith and I was being influenced by others who didn't share my faith. It was easy to justify behavior ...

When I found a church home, I felt like I had come home. I was so hungry for the Word and growth. I made life long friends and found my prayer partner.

Recently, we've moved and it's a bit far from my church. So I've been going to a much smaller church closer to where I am now. I still feel like it's home because the people share my faith. They've welcomed me with open arms and pray for me. They have demonstrated what the book of Acts says about the body of believers.

Yes, I go to church and love it. I get to worship the Lord with other believers. I get to pray with and for others. And I get to spend one Sunday a month with the little children while their parents are in church. How great is that?

Blessings and love to you Lisa,
Debbie

Melissa said...

I love, love, love this list!

I agree with all of your reasons. A few years ago my family found a church in which we truly feel like family. It's an amazing place to worship and grow and serve.

I'm so grateful for the way that my sisters and brothers in Christ love me enough to show grace and also to hold me accountable. In my life it's been rare to find someone who can do both.

Lisa notes... said...

Ed,
I think too often we fall into the trap of going to church to be ministered to, instead of as you phrased so well, to be turned “into fellow ministers to one another.”

Nice addition of “service/mission.” Definitely a calling we have.

I’m looking forward to your five-minute retreats next week! Praying for blessings on it…
Lisa

Lisa notes... said...

Kati,
I wonder if most people don’t go through what you’re describing, at some time or other, for short periods or long periods. There have been plenty of times when I get very frustrated with my church and really want to give up, so I have to remind myself of all the valid reasons for going. Praying for you in your circumstances of waiting. May God bless you with patience and with people who can encourage you as you wait.

Bonnie,
It definitely takes energy to go to church. The times I have to drag myself there are far too many and don’t even make sense because I KNOW what good things await me there. Just have to get over the hump of inertia. Thankfully God works with us on that!

Melli said...

AND... because if I don't go I just KNOW I'll miss the BEST sermon EVER! Right? Or the best MUSIC ever... or sOMething... I don't want to MISS any of it! As a matter of fact... when I meet a new really great Pastor from ANOTHER church... I "fret" for a little while knowing I can't attend two churches at the same time! ROFL! It drives me crazy knOwing that everybody else is at a different church than me hearing OTHER great sermons that I'm NOT hearing! Thankfully, I really DO get the BEST sermon EVER every. single. week. at my church! And when I AM away, hearing another sermon... Pastor records them! Well, he records them even when I'm there! But I don't really MISS them... because I can always hear them later. I LOVE that!

alittlebitograce said...

i go because we are commanded not to forsake gathering together. we are currently not attending sunday services at our church although we are still attending our small group because of some issues. church for me is currently none of the things you listed. instead it is a place of deep hurt, one where i feel deeply wounded and rejected. but we are pursuing reconciliation and not just walking away because we believe that church is important.

honestly? i hate church and i hate sundays right now. that breaks my heart. :(

Lisa notes... said...

Melli,
I know what you mean. I actually listen to several different preachers throughout the week because I don’t want to miss the good things that they shared at the church I wasn’t at. It’s such an easy thing to do now, thanks to the internet and my mp3 player. I can listen while I’m doing housework or working out or whatever, and get uplifted. And like you said, when I’m gone from my home church, I still feel connected by downloading my preacher’s sermon and listening. Technology can definitely be used for some good stuff!

Lisa notes... said...

To “A little bit o grace”:

I hear the pain in your words. When church isn’t what it’s supposed to be (and what we know it CAN be), it hurts even worse. I’m sorry you’re at such a difficult place right now. I’ve tasted a little of what you’re saying when my home church went through a major division, but probably not to the extent that you’re experiencing.

You are doing the right thing, though, by pursuing reconciliation, even though that’s probably very difficult and painful in itself. Regardless of what the other parties decide to do, you will be blessed in the end for doing your part to seek peace (Romans 12:18).

I pray that God won’t leave you in this circumstance much longer; what a bummer to hate Sundays and church. :-( In the meantime, I hope you can still find many ways to praise him with your immediate family and with your small group.

Blessings to you,
Lisa

Lisa notes... said...

A nice article quoting B.B. Warfield on Spurgeon.wordpress.com:

"Church Attendance: What Would Jesus Do?"

The Wild Optimist said...

Ah, how did you know? I was just thinking about whether I really should go . . .

Great post!

Lisa notes... said...

Good! Hope it was a nudge in the right direction for you.

Beverley said...

I came to look at something and came across just what i needed - thank you

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