10 Reasons to Go to Church

10 Reasons to Go to Church July 3, 2017

IMG_0065Why go to church? What are the pros and what are the cons? Last post we looked at the cons, so today I want to look at the Pros.

The church is to be a light on a hill, a place for fellowship, a sacred setting for worship — a gathering for instruction, exhortation, and worship.

Again, I take John Pritchard’s clever little book Why Go to Church? in SPCK’s “Little Books of Guidance” series. Pritchard is also the author of Going to Church: A User’s Guide.

I teach at Northern Seminary and at the center of our mission is to prepare pastors and leaders for and in the church. So, we are big on church at Northern, and it’s reflected in my colleagues who are deeply committed to local church ministries.

We are active participants in Church of the Redeemer, and weekly worship, fellowship, and instruction are central to our family’s life. Our daughter and husband participate at Willow Creek and our son and family participate in Church of the Redeemer, too.

Many today think being a Christian and a follower of Christ are not necessarily connected to participating in a local church. Others today pray a pox on the church as an institution and see local churches as toxic.

It is hard to read the New Testament or to know the history of the church and devalue the church or its local church expression. In fact, many today are regaining a sense of the importance of the church and are rooting this renewal in appreciating the deep traditions and liturgy of the church. Many are returning to the church.

Church is about worship, and he sees two elements of that worship: soul food and soul music, Scripture and Sacrament. He knows that Spirit matters for if Spirit is absent, worship is absent too:

All this means that the form of worship isn’t as important as the fact of worship. The acid test is whether an act of worship is truly alive and life-giving, not whether it’s liturgically perfect. A Christian from South America had visited England and was invited to tell a meeting back home what had impressed him about the Church in Britain. He replied: ‘All the services start punctually. Even if the Spirit hasn’t arrived yet!’ It’s the Spirit who gives life to worship. What matters is not what form of words we use but that our spirits are ignited by divine fire. Wherever the worship goes and whatever its shape, what really matters is that we catch the tail of the divine tiger, and hold on.

What are your best reasons for going to church?

Here are Pritchard’s ten reasons, and I would add “Because it’s the Body of Christ in this world.”

  1. Because we’re on a journey
  2. Because we’re looking for a framework to live in
  3. Because it’s a place of moral seriousness in a trivialized culture
  4. Because churches make an honest attempt at community in a culture that’s forgotten how to do it
  5. Because I’m a learner, and church seems to be a community of learners
  6. Because the building talks a different language, and it’s fascinating
  7. Because I might strike lucky
  8. Because I want to get in touch with God
  9. Because when times are hard, there are resources to be found there
  10. Because there’s a saint or two to be found in there, and saints are exciting
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  • Bill Drewett

    By talking about the pros and cons of going to church, aren’t we already missing the point? It turns the debate into a choice between leisure options: ‘Which Sunday morning activity is best equipped to meet my needs?’ It reduces the issue to a question like, ‘Should we go to the beach or the mountains for our holidays this year?’ As though the alternatives to gathering are a serious option for believers.

    It’s the kind of argument that’s only possible between people who’ve somehow missed the basic, introductory lessons. Who’ve failed to grasp the fundamental principles of what the church is and what the church is for. The NT assumes that believers will gather. ‘Ekklesia’ means ‘gathering’ or ‘assembly’. When believers gather in Jesus’ name, they are Christ’s body. They become family, body, temple, priesthood and nation. A foretaste of and a signpost to the Kingdom.

    It seems to me that if these aren’t good enough reasons to persuade someone to participate, then finding alternatives won’t help. In many ways it makes the problem worse by obscuring the church’s true nature.

  • DMH

    Or… for many, they have received the basic introductory lessons, tried to participate in those ideals, but have found the church so horribly dysfunctional (see the last post on this subject) that they see the only options are to stay home and give it up completely or practice the way of Jesus as best they can alone or with a few friends. That’s the reality we’re talking about here. I’m sympathetic to what you say IF the church is properly functioning, even half way.

  • DMH

    After a long stretch my wife and I have recently decided to “go back to church”. A few of our major reasons; 1) we believe it is gods desire to act mainly (though not exclusively) through the church. 2) “christianity” was never meant to be practiced alone. Only in a group of people does the church have the potential of being what it should be. 3) We have experienced a (mostly) healthy church in the pat- so we know it’s possible.

  • Coffee Summerall

    Some of these may overlap with the original list, but here are some thoughts…

    11. Because when fellowship is good at a church, it’s really amazing. The support system is quite good if you find an intimate small group that meets your needs.

    12. Because having a loving caring pastor who lights up when he sees you and your children — and knows your names and interests — makes all the difference. I told my pastor, “Twenty years from now, few people will remember particular words from your sermons, but they will remember you loved them.”

    13. Because even though sermons can be redundant (and even off-base), singing together at church does something special at the soul level.

    14. Because hospitality binds hearts and minds, and even changes minds.

  • Michelle Van Loon

    I understood all but #7: “Because I might strike lucky.” Any thoughts on what this might mean?

  • DMH

    Me too. Lucky you might find a healthy church???

  • DMH

    Hospitality is a major component that’s missing in the church.

  • RustbeltRick

    I go to our current church because it makes the wife happy and is a good example to the kids. My dad never went to church and I certainly don’t want to repeat that. Without such attachments I would be searching for a different place of worship. I know those aren’t great reasons but they are important factors in what gets me out of the house on Sunday.

  • Aaron Lage

    Perhaps in finding a spouse?? lol!

  • mshipman

    Sure, okay. We needed that whole list? What’s up with #7. The first time I read it I thought it said, “Strike up a Lucky.” Smoking in church, what a nutty idea. You can do that outside. And then I thought even more about #7. So is going to church like spinning a roulette wheel? Hmmm…maybe it is. You just don’t know where that little marble is going to drop, do you.

    Don’t get me wrong. I do attend church but in the role of an observer more than anything. It’s entertaining. Really, it is.

  • You forgot this reason: Because I am an American. If you were born and grew up in secular Europe for example, you probably wouldn’t go to church on Sundays that very often, if at all. Even Europeans who are professing Christians go very seldom. If you ask a Christian here if he/she goes to church, one gets very defensive: “Well, not every Sunday!” You see, it is an American thing.

  • 11. Because after attending jumu’ah at noon on Friday, and morning shabbat on Saturday, going to church on Sunday completes my Abrahamic weekly rounds.