Why Do You Go To Church?

This is an off the cuff thought, but I haven’t had much interest or motivation to attend church lately.
It’s not just that it’s hard to get the kiddo ready to go and venture out in the freezing cold on a Sunday morning, there’s more then that.

It’s also not that I’m against churches completely or anything, I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to meet other people in my neighborhood who share similar values. We’ve connected, via the small groups and service projects, with other people in our community.

I guess, I just sort of start to wonder, “what’s the point?” I’ve probably heard well over 500 sermons in my life (others of you have heard a TON more). And it’s true, there are some cool preachers out there that can put a new spin on things, lend some interesting insight into a topic or Bible passage. Yet, it’s just another interesting media input. I can watch great sermons online, listen to them during my walk, read a book on the topic or consume some other medium at my own convenience. When I show up on Sunday I mostly small talk with the one or two people I know, listen to some music and head home.

I’m rambling here, my intent was mostly to ask the question of you. I’m not looking for you to convince me of anything, I’d just like to know your own personal motivation for attending Church (if you do). Or, in a similar vein, why do you read the Bible?

Drop your answer below.

(P.S. I’ve added a new comment plugin called IntenseDebate. It adds some neat features, comment threads, reply by email, and more. You don’t have to register or anything. Please let me know what you think, if it works, or if it’s a pain in the butt).

21 thoughts on “Why Do You Go To Church?”

  1. I'm assuming you mean the Sunday Morning service. Here are my reasons in no particular order.

    1. Celebration: It's a weekly time for me to join with other people and celebrate God and God's work.
    2. Community
    3. Learning: Mostly Sunday School and small groups. Sermons don't work very well for me as far as learning goes
    4. Re-focusing: For me it's a great time to make sure that my internal compass is pointing in the right direction, after the week has done it's best to get it all twisted. I think this is where sermons live as opposed to being a time for learning.

  2. Its seems to me from your post that the churches you have experienced have been all about listening to sermons. You also mention listening to music. Are you participating in the music or do they really just have you listening? Have you tried churches that are not sermon focused? There are many.

    If this is your experience of church, then I can understand why you would miss the reason for going. When I go to church on Sunday for worship (I want to be specific here, because "going to church" can be really ambiguous) I go to worship God in community and I go to receive Christ through Holy Communion (which also happens very intentionally in community).

    As for other instances of going to church, I go to Sunday School currently because I am teaching a teen class and I am greatly enjoying the opportunity to help them to see God's story as it played out for people in Bible times and as it plays out in their own lives and the lives of others. As these teens are making the transition into adulthood they desperately need to see examples of adults who are living the faith. I also volunteer with the youth group many Sunday afternoons as well as Wednesday night for these reasons.

    I go to church on the occasional Saturday morning not only to set up for the next day, but because it is a prime opportunity to hang out with the old ladies of the church. For all of their stodginess, I have grown to love them so very much and I take great delight in the ways that they seek to glorify God with their humble work. One example, every year at Christmas I pull out the Christmas linens for Communion which are hand embroidered with an intricately detailed manger scene. I know that many people my age would not get this and might see it as a waste, but somebody gave of herself, creating those beautiful linens as a prayer and offering in thanksgiving to God. Seeing this example makes me want to give my best to God in my own way.

    I won't bore you with the details of all of the other reasons that I go to church, but I will end by saying this. Above all I go to church to reconcile with and love people with which I have little in common with except that we are Christ followers. I go to church to come together with these people and show our love for God. I can't love God if I can't love my brothers and sisters. I think there are some out there that have gotten this message and have applied it to the marginalized. This is as it should be. But some of those people have not taken the next taken the next step and applied it to those within the church. I think that we've not been made perfect in love when we are able to love those who are far away but are not able to love those within the church.

    1. Indie, the church we go to here (in Minneapolis) does have very participatory music, but I've had a hard time with music (at church) for several years now.
      We haven't been to any "non sermon focused" churches. We are trying to stick to churches in our neighborhood, and to my knowledge there aren't any like that here. Could be wrong though.

  3. 1) To worship through song
    2) Because we confess together that we don't have it all together & haven't gotten it right yet
    3) Because we pray for each other
    4) To look at all the babies 🙂

  4. I go to church to take communion – that's one thing I cannot do on my own. Keeping in touch with church friends is an added bonus.

  5. This is the first time in awhile that I'm not actually involved in some aspect of leadership in the church. I spent almost 3 years working with the student ministry which included a service on Sunday morning. That was all before moving. Now we attend a church that meets on Friday nights and includes a meal time. We go to visit with our friends (many of whom are more like family) and to have a dedicated time set apart for God's truth.

    I agree that for many pastor's the almost repeat the same material over again (especially in liturgical settings). Our church is going through every book of the Bible and finding what the Gospel message is. Ariah (and anyone else) you would be welcome to come check us out sometime.

  6. This is a question we've posed to ourselves in Revolution many times and what we have come to lately is that we gather around the Lord's Table. An open, inclusive, sacramental meal is the one distinct thing we do that cannot be done without gathering. So we have a meal and communion every week. The other emphasis is honest discussion and wrestling with the text. We don't have a sermon and we only occasionally sing together. The other component to our gatherings is a confession and prayers that we do aloud together. Oh, and we serve the community together.

    1. Makeesha,
      That sounds pretty cool. Have you written anything about how your church started and grew? I'd imagine unless those questions where presented super early in a church growing they'd never be willing to change.

  7. because i never get any other opportunities to engage in worship with lots of other people of a multi-ethnic background.
    because i get to know people. not fully, but in that medium, i get to know them a bit, which leads to more knowing in other mediums. w/o that entry, i'm not sure i'd get to know them.
    because my kid likes to play with other kids.
    because i like the mission of the church and want to participate somehow.
    because i like large gatherings.
    because there are times when 1-5 people can do more than 1000, and there are times when 1000 people can do more than 1-5.
    i think i have more, but i'm just trying to do it fast.

  8. I don't go to church. I have a lot of baggage from a BAAAAAD church experience, so going to church can be painful and scary for me. Also, like you, I've heard hundreds of sermons and it's rare that I hear something fresh & new. And I find a lot of ministers (clergy and laity) to be so very churchy & fake – they remind me of myself a few years ago – that I can't be bothered with the forced friendliness of the meet & greet.

    I would really love to be part of a community of believers again, but as I've said before, finding a new church can be just like dating. There's a lot of lemons out there, and it's exhausting to look for the right one.

  9. I go to church to serve other people. I don't really get much out of it myself. For me it's a place to meet other Xns and help in some way. Sometimes that's just playing guitar for music sometimes it's running a small group or doing a sermon. But, I pretty much go for other people, It's not the best format for connecting with other people but it's the best one I have at the moment.

  10. I do think that all of these membership requirements are a problem with how we currently do church. I think that very often people don't realize that becoming involved in these types of things are how people become a part of the community. Sitting around watching other people do stuff rarely motivates people to become a part of the community and when they do, if they have been left out of ministries, they often just assume that they are not wanted or needed in those ministries.

    After about a year at our current church (we needed a do nothing detox time), we began to become involved in various things. I found out that I was doing some things that I was supposed to be confirmed in the church before I did because some people mistakenly thought I was already confirmed. The priest (a different one than called some church members SOBs) just said, "Don't tell anybody" and let me continue. So eventually I was confirmed, but I do wonder if I would have really felt welcome and drawn to that church if I had been denied an opportunity to serve until I was confirmed (which is only available once a year). Some of our young people originally just came with their friends and were put into acolyte roles (candle lighting and such) just because the alternative was sitting by themselves while their friends served. I think that if we took the same attitude with adults we would find that people would stay in a community that they feel has embraced them.

  11. Chris,
    Great to hear your taking opportunities to serve! I've been pretty frustrated in my efforts at my last two churches I've attended.
    The first, a smaller church, I kept on wanting to initiate activities, be it a movie discussion group, services opportunities, Sunday school Bible study, etc. And I got shot down (politely by the pastor) every time.
    Recently at a much larger church, I was taking the steps to lead a fellowship meal group and then found out I have to be a 'member' of the church, something I'm just not comfortable with at the moment. So, no opportunity there either. I have gotten to be on a lead team for a monthly service project through the church, so that's been nice (thanks, Neeraj).

  12. You make a very good point, Indie. A similar issue in the Episcopal/Anglican tradition is that people are not supposed receive communion until they've been baptised. My former priest (who was a bad, bad man but had some good ideas) would not refuse the Eucharist to children or adults who were unbaptised, because he believed that it would be incredibly damaging to someone young in their faith to be turned away from the Lord's Supper. I think for very traditional churches the red tape sometimes interferes with the individual's experience of God.

  13. Hey Ariah, thanks for replying. It definitely can be hard to find a church where you can serve and the wife and I kind of interviewed the pastor before going to the church. The best thing was that they were pretty happy for us to do stuff and see what happens – as long as we weren't sacrificing goats to pagan gods. Which for me is really what makes the church and it's various an enjoyable place to hang out. Also we only meet once a fortnight and small groups meet every other week.

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