Why go to church?

Published 5:50 pm Friday, May 10, 2019

By Nathan Decker

I believe that God knows what each of us wants and needs. It’s not necessary for us to make it to church on Sunday to reach him. You can find him anyplace. And if that sounds heretical, my source is pretty good: Matthew, Five to Seven, the Sermon on the Mount.”

– Frank Sinatra

I’ve heard it all. “I can worship God anywhere. I don’t need to be in a building with a group of people listening to someone retell stories from an ancient book.” People come to me a lot not making excuses but honest observations about church. “Listen, preacher, I can encounter God while fishing or on the beach. Sometimes I even encounter God more there than I do in a pew.” People tell me all kinds of reasons why they don’t go to church. And they are all correct.

You don’t have to go to church to be a good person or even a faithful person. You can experience God outside of Sunday Morning. You can find Jesus on the shoreline while you’re casting out for bass. You can hear Jesus in the roar of a crowd cheering on the baseball team. You can even feel the presence of the Divine in the sand on the beach. And there’s nothing wrong with that. You’re good. But we could all be better.

The enemy of great is good enough. The team that doesn’t practice is the one who loses. The difference between science teachers and scientists is that the teachers have stopped asking questions and simply give answers. We were not created to be stagnant but dramatic. God gave us the church to offer us comfort in despair, challenge in complacency and a place to serve.

When Jesus walks the shoreline, he usually calls us to “come, follow me.” Like baseball, faith is a team sport. No one of us can cover the whole field of life’s errors and pop flies alone. The sand on the beach offers us warmth and comfort, but it is fickle. Once the sun goes down and the tide comes up, it turns cold.

Do not go to church because you think the sermons are awesome and the preacher is funny. Do come to church expecting to hear God’s Word (the Scriptures, sermon, songs, and people). Come to church to reshape your understanding of life. Do not attend worship because you feel guilty and know it is expected of you. Do attend a service because you know that when you serve as a part of the Body of Christ, you are a small part of the Kingdom of God — a vision bigger than any one of us that requires all of us. Do not go to church because you are hoping to find answers or believe you have the answers they need. Do go to church because you are asking questions and need a safe place to talk, share and pray.

Places of worship are holy, that is set apart and different, not perfect. When we gather as Church we come together to help each other through the week. Comfort. We come together to help each other be the best version of ourselves that we can be. Challenge. We come together because we want meaning and purpose in our life. Service. These are the reasons to go to church. Yes, I pray we all encounter God everywhere we are, but I also recognize there are some things we only do better together. Go to church, any church. Go worship God. After all, it’s what Jesus would do.

When Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, as was his custom.”

– Luke 4:16