Why Go to Church?
Since I am a pastor, the topic of church/faith/religion comes up a lot in my daily life rather unexpectedly. Today I was talking to my hairdresser. She is giving up chocolate for Lent. She does not go to church. She is a spiritual person who has no need for church. She is not alone in her thoughts. There are many others who do not feel that they need to be connected to a local congregation. There are people in my own family who do not consider being a part of church or a faith community a priority in their lives. For all of them and for you if you are not one of them, here is why I think everyone should be a part of a faith community.
- Life is to be lived in community. We know that we all, to varying degrees, need other people. We need other people to share in our lives. A faith community is where we share about our faith. Sometimes we teach about our faith. Sometimes we learn. In a community there are people who depend on each other. Others need you to help them grow, and you need others to help you grow.
- God is there. Yes, God is everywhere, but we know that God is uniquely present when God’s people gather to worship. I also believe that there are certain times when God has promised to be present – Communion/Lord’s Supper and Baptism. These are times when God is uniquely present to offer those of us present God’s grace.
- Learning is a group process. We learn best when we learn with others and from others. By spending time in a faith community, there is an opportunity to learn and grow. We can learn from others around us, including the pastor, as well as teaching others from our personal knowledge and experience. When we stop learning, we stop developing as people. When we stop developing, then we start dying. Being in church is a chance to learn and grow.
- Personal Empowerment. A friend told me that she goes to church to get “filled-up”. When we worship God, then God can work more fully within us. We can have an experience of mystery and spirituality that does not exist in most of our lives. These spiritual experiences can change us – help us find direction and meaning for our lives.
- Spiritual experiences and discussions. There are very few times and places when we are able to share about spiritual things. When we have a mysterious, spiritual experience, we don’t have the words or an audience to share the experience. The church is based on these type of experiences. The church is where the spiritual is experienced, talked about, and encouraged.
While it is my hope that everyone becomes a Christian, belief is not a requirement for coming to church. Being a part of a faith community means that you are a spiritual being looking for ways to learn and grow in your spiritual experiences.