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