Why I Go to Church…

I was investigating a blog of a pastor who is a graduate of my college alma matter, and I checked out a post that talked about the importance of church attendance for Christians.  He listed several reason why people might attend church and several reasons why people might leave, and didn’t cast any judgment on their biblical validity.

His list of reasons why people would attend church were the following:

1. Family.

2. Social network/friends.

3. Centering (slowing down and taking time to be with God)

4. Freedom from the “bondage in their lives” (I’m guessing as to what this means, though I think I get the drift).

5. Satisfying hunger for God and experiencing worship.

6. Moral re-orientation/moral assurance.

7. Tradition.

His list of reasons why people would leave the church was the following.

1. Apostasy

2. Sloth

3. Fear of conflict/encountering enemies.

4. Judgmentalism/hypocrisy.

5. Pride in their maturity (people think they no longer learn anything in church)

6. Pain and fear of repetition of painful experiences.

7. Lack of desired care/entertainment.

8.  Frustration with politics.

9. Fear of the opinions/judgment of others.

I responded to his post by suggesting that he didn’t include any of the reasons why I go to church and I found that strange and confusing.

So why do I go to church?  Here’s a dozen reasons:

1.  I want to please Christ and he’s commanded me to not forsake the church (Heb. 10:24-25).

2.  It’s the only place where I can fulfill all the “one another” commands in scripture (Mark 9:50; John 13:14, 13:34-35, 15:12 & 17; Romans 12:10 & 16, 13:8, 14:13, 15:5 & 7, 16:16; 1 Corinthians 6:7, 11:33, 12:25, 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:11-12; Galatians 5:13, 5:26, 6:1-2; Ephesians 4:2, 4:25, 4:32, 5:19 & 21; Colossians 3:9 & 13 & 16; 1 Thessalonians 3:2, 4:9, 4:18, 5:11 & 15; Hebrews 3:13, 10:24-25; James 4:11, 5:9 & 16; 1 Peter 1:22, 4:8-10, 5:5 & 14; 1 John 3:11 & 23, 4:7, 4:11-12; 2 John 1:5.)

To  try to fulfill all these commands outside of the church, is impossible. To ignore them is to choose to willfully sin.

3.  I love fellow believers and want to be with them for no other reason than simply for fellowship.  Fellowship is NOT catching up on the latest news, singing songs in a common building, or even just praying together.

4.  I’m part of the body of Christ and it is actually painful to be away from the body all week (see reason #3).

5.  The church is where I sit under the teaching of the word of God and I actually desire that, I need that, and it’s part of my spiritual growth and health to be regularly exposed to the exposition of the word of God (1 Timothy 4:11-16).  The word dwells in me more thoroughly when I sit under it’s right instruction.

6.  I need to regularly face the terror of communion in order to force me to deal with outstanding sin in my life and keep short accounts with God (1 Corinthians 11:27-30).

7.  I desire to serve in the church and that’s the proper domain for my extra -curricular labors (Acts 6:1-6; 1 Corinthians 16:15-18; Ephesians 4:10-12)

8.  I know I need to be protected from false teachers and I’m NOT the one who protects myself; God has places structures in my life (which involves the church and it’s leadership) in order to guard me from false teaching and I need to submit to those structures and the people who work within them (Titus 1:9-11; 1 Peter 5:5-9).

9.  The church has been given the ordinance of discipline for the care of the wayward members (Matthew 18:15-20; 1 Corinthians 5:1-13) and if I remove myself from the church, I also remove myself from God’s appointed system of watching over me when my soul desires to stray from the Lord.

10.  I go to church because the brothers and sisters around me are the ones who confirm the positive changes in my life that I doubt (i.e. the presence of love in my life that I don’t see), and they’re the ones who give me reason for assurance of my salvation and help me silence my doubting heart (1 John 3:11-24).

11.  I go to church because I need to learn to submit to Christ, and I get practice when I learn to submit to the leadership above me unto which God has commanded my submission (Hebrews 13:7 & 17; 1 Peter 5:5).  One of the most basic habits that a Christian must cultivate is one of submission to the Lord and his word, and the church offers me a caring and safe place to learn to submit because submission is a worthy end goal in itself.  Even if I have a mediocre pastor (and I definitely have had mediocre pastors in the past) or go to an imperfect church, I need to learn to submit to those that the Lord had placed over me because it’s good for my heart.

12. I go to church because that’s where I find examples of Christian maturity to imitate in the elders who are above me (1 Corinthians 11:1; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-9; Hebrews 13:7).  It’s one thing to read my bible and learn doctrine and practice; it’s completely different to see doctrine and practice manifest in the lives of believers who are more mature than I am.

To sum it up:

I go to church because I don’t want to go to Hell.

I could think of another dozen reasons, but that’s at least a start.

Can you think of any reasons for attending church that I missed?  Just looking back over the post, I realized that I’d already forgotten one:

13. The church is full of fellow believers who are difficult to love and church is where I learn to love the brethren! (Romans 12:15, 14:15; 2 Corinthians 13:11; Galatians 5:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:9; 1 Peter 1:22, 2:17; 2 Peter 1:7; 1 John 2:10, 3:10-17, 4:20-21).  You cannot and should not try to escape fellow believers who are difficult to love; God has placed them in your life so that you can practice patience, love, selflessness, etc.

Until Next Time,

Lyndon “The Armchair Ecclesiologist” Unger

**********

Update – I have a pastor friend who blogs here and is scared of posting comments on blogs, so he did a drive-by on Facebook and he reminded me of something I forgot; the ordinances.  Sadly, he didn’t clarify what he meant (and his Facebook comment was a total of 4 words), so I’m assuming this is what he means:

14.  I go to church because the church has been given the divine charge to observe and administer the seven ordinances: Christening, Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Confession, Extreme Unction, Holy Orders and Matrimony.  Maybe he didn’t mean those ordinances, and I don’t actually go to church because my church administers those ordinances, but seeing that he didn’t clarify what he was saying, I’ll just assume that is what he meant.

**********

Update to update – I have now received clarification that my pastor friend is some form of Protestant.  That clarifies a bunch and I stand corrected.  He meant the two ordinances, not seven.  So then #14 would be:

14.  I go to church because the church has been entrusted with the dual ordinances of Baptism (Matthew 28:19; Acts 19:1-7; Romans 6:3-11; 1 Peter 3:18-22) and the Lord’s Supper (Luke 22:14-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26), with participation in each not being optional for growing Christians .  Though neither administers grace nor ensures any sort of security in salvation, both are commanded for believers and necessary for growth into maturity; Baptism as a public identification with and commitment to Christ and the church, and the Lord’s Supper as a continual proclamation of the death of Christ and a continual reminder of dealing with outstanding sin and keeping short accounts with God (see reason #6).  As the church regularly partakes in these 2 ordinances, the gospel is both illustrated and applied in the church.

Advertisements

21 thoughts on “Why I Go to Church…

  1. I’m going to speculate that your pastor friend’s reasons to attend directly relate to the reasons he lists why people leave. Attending primarily for the social experience or for family is getting the cart before the horse: not necessarily bad things, but when congregants come to be serve rather than to serve/be obedient, it’s the beginning of the end for that church.

    • You may be correct Greg. I’m not so sure if his reasons were reasons he’d heard or just a general list of reasons, both good and bad.

      I’d agree that there is definitely a cart before a horse and I’d suggest maybe that many of the reasons given as “reasons” (social experience, family, etc.) are actually “perks” of a local church; peripheral benefits of a local church but not really reasons for being part of a local church.

  2. Addendum to FB “drive by”. If you REALLY knew how to read tea leaves as you claim, you would have known what I meant about the ordinances…
    The Lord Jesus has Committed two ordinances to the Church, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, which while not conveying grace, do strengthen and nourish the believer when taken in true faith.

    I go to church to strengthen and nourish m faith by the word preached and the word displayed in the ordinances as well as those other things you mentioned.

    But if YOU need confession, I would make an exception and “expand” my list… Just this once.

    • Respectfully nonetheless it hurt to see the statement “Addendum to FB ”drive by”. If you REALLY knew how to read tea leaves as you claim, you would have known what I meant about the ordinances…”

      It hurt because everyone is speaking of the Church and trying to be the Body of the Church, and to use term ”tea leaves” you might not or you might realize is actually something going against the Word and I endured this sort of thing when young.

      It hurt because it was from a Christian viewpoint to another man of God unnecessarily cruel. I’m just a layperson yet everyone has their own writing styles yet even using that term imo was just another example of what I’ve seen in Christians.

      This particular blog writer can be acerbic and has a dry wit, my perception was no harm was meant in what he wrote.

      Blessings, marie

      • Marie, it’s okay. Chad and I have been good friends for almost 2 decades and poke fun at each other that way. He didn’t mean anything rude by it and I started it by harassing him on Facebook.

        • Please convey my apologies to your friend, Chad. This was a good lesson for me. To be more discerning consistently. In retrospect, I should have remained quiet unless you had responded, as I turned red-faced in full recognition you are entirely capable of responding for yourself 😦 this gave me pause to think more carefully before ”opening my hands” LOL today the hands are an extension of the mouth. Okay: I should have kept my mouth shut. Lesson Learned!!! Thank you for the kind response I hope it at least caused a laugh or two and again sorry to your friend, Chad.
          Respectfully,
          marie

        • I did apologize for the comments between you and Chad, don’t see it listed here, though. There seemed to be a few ”glitches” tonight in the system. I did realize, red-faced, of course you’re more than capable of responding to comments you disagree with and once again, lesson learned. Sorry to both you and Chad.
          Respectfully,
          marie

  3. Well, this one has certainly gotten me thinking…any keys on HOW to find a good Church? In past, have tried, there are a significant amount of nearby Churches, yet the ones I tried either seemed dormant…or extreme charismatic. Any suggestions would be welcome.

    Continuing to pray. There are no Mennonite Churches in my area or I would try one right away.

    I would like to know what the over-all Mennonite opinion is of Christmas Trees. I’m not a Grinch, yet after studying the complete origins of such, I gladly gave it up.

    Thank you if you are able to answer these questions. +++

  4. Well, this one has certainly gotten me thinking…any keys on HOW to find a good Church? In past, have tried, there are a significant amount of nearby Churches, yet the ones I tried either seemed dormant…or extreme charismatic. Any suggestions would be welcome.

    Continuing to pray. There are no Mennonite Churches in my area or I would try one right away.

    I would like to know what the over-all Mennonite opinion is of Christmas Trees. I’m not a Grinch, yet after studying the complete origins of such, I gladly gave it up.

    Thank you if you are able to answer these questions. +++

    • Marie,

      With regards to decent churches, I’m not sure what I can offer you. If you tell me what city you’re in, I could try to look online for you and find something, but I don’t make any promises.

      As for Christmas trees (and the whole celebration of Christmas), I know all about the pagan roots of Christmas and Saturnalia. The thing is, Christmas imagery and traditions aren’t pagan any more than drums are. Both were thoroughly pagan 1,700 years ago, but both aren’t what they used to be.

      I have a tree in my house because it’s a symbol of Christmas and ONLY Christmas these days; the star, the decorations, and the lights have all been given new and different meanings, so I don’t think of anything except the birth of Christ when I look at them.

      I have tons of Christmas decorations in my house, but none of them make me want to partake in the worship of Mithras or some other pagan deity. None of them make me think of fertility rights or harvest celebrations or anything like that. Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus, and that’s definitely worth celebrating. If hanging up sparkly garlands, or putting trees in your house, or having red and green everywhere helps you celebrate the birth of the Messiah, then go for it.

      If your conscience is bothered by the pagan roots of Christmas, then I guess nobody will force you to celebrate it in any specific way, or at all. Just don’t look down on others who do.

      • Recently, there was a highly publicized news story regarding a New York police officer buying socks and shoes for a homeless man. Yes, this was kind, esp. because the officer himself placed the socks and shoes on the homeless’ mans’ feet. Yet, there I was, wondering “this is well and good but what about finding him shelter, a consistent shelter?” That’s my divergent thinking. Don’t get me wrong, the officer indeed was kind.

        Hi, I always start from the end of correspondence (because I can see it LOL), no, I don’t look down on others who do celebrate with Christmas Trees and decorate alot. I do categorize, though. I’ve cried a few times tho I don’t cry easily, for those who perceive “Christmas” with the tree and decorations as “Christmas”. Many of the Jewish population, The Chosen, now place Christmas Trees and decorations in their home, the only meaning to them is the visual beauty. It was just that when I did study the history and origins of the Tree, etc., I began to understand mankind will find a way, some way, to connect to a form of “Higher Power” to worship.

        When I learnt the early Roman Catholic Church had to ”bargain” (literally!) with the masses (play on words) to ”get” people to attend Church and associate Christ with the originally pagan tree to worship the Solstice, I did cry because it struck me so forcefully the tree still remaining was indeed a little seed, leading to packed shopping malls, tremendous stress both financially and emotionally between so many families disguising their ongoing problems once-or-twice-a-year for a tree with origins non-Christian, it made me mad. Because it all succeeded in taking the FOCUS from Christ’s Birth, even if it is more Commemorative than accurate re birth date.

        Of people I have ”known”, you and you’re family are the only ones who I have known to evidently have it in perspective from a rational and aware viewpoint.

        I belong to an FB group for my two chronic illnesses and so many are so very unhappy wishing “Christmas” of today did not exist. It’s a British group, and people often ”complain” or are heartbroken about their families during the year, dreading the upcoming “Holiday”, and those crying with shame they dont’ have funds for Seasonal ”necessities”.

        And everytime, I remember how a pagan ritual had to be included in order to Worship Christ’s Birth. And how mankind has handled this aspect. I loved getting to toss so much ornaments and fodder associated with Christmas, because Americans even those less fortunate, still have far more than many others in this world.

        The trick worked on most populations. Except for those with discernment. Such as your family. Now, I keep a small Nativity set out year-round.

        Because Christ’s Birth, in essence, should be celebrated every day +++ marie

      • Okay, I will say where I live it is Waukegan, Illinois (about 40 miles outside of Chicago). I am giving serious consideration to the Mennonite religion due to your postings. However, I studied a little bit and discovered there are all different forms of the Mennonite religion/faith. I would prefer a Church with your outlook. I did a search this is the only one I found: http://www.northsuburban.org/ I was wondering if you could look it over for me because I don’t want to waste my time or pain if the Church differs from your choice of Mennonite faith. I would appreciate it.

        I want to ask another question. Yet it is a public forum. Still I will ask it. Awhile back, did you mean 12 months of treatment???

        I tell myself it is alright to ask but am not certain (sigh)

        Respectfully, marie

      • Marie, I should clarify that among the Mennonites, I’m QUITE the anomaly,. If you went to North Suburban Mennonite Church, you’d likely be quite shocked. In general, the Mennonites don’t have much of a practical regard for the Bible at all. They claim they do, but they don’t treat it with much seriousness in either study or doctrine. Much of what you read (and possibly like) on this blog would be stuff that most Mennonites would openly oppose and hate.

        I would honestly NOT recommend looking for a Mennonite church in your area.

        I’ve looked into your area and have found a few churches within what I would consider investigating that are within “realistic” driving distance (1/2 hour or less away):

        1. Waukegan Baptist Bible Church – It’s also in Waukegan – http://www.wbbcministry.org/index.html

        2. Lake County Baptist Church – It’s in Waukegan – http://www.lcbministries.org/church/

        3. Harvest Bible Chapel – Winnetka Campus – http://www.harvestbible.org/10780/content/content_id/269319/Our-Campuses

        The Harvest Bible Chapel is the farthest away, but there is a guy from my seminary who works there named Nathan Scroggins and you can contact him at nscroggins@harvestbiblechapel.org or (847) 398-7005.

        He’d gladly talk with you and seeing that he’s in the immediate area, he’s likely have a FAR better handle on what solid churches are around you. Hopefully that sends you in a good direction to find a solid, Bible teaching church in your area.

  5. Addendum: Turns out the ”homeless” guy actually does have an apartment. BTW, he was sitting, no shoes and no socks, a few stores down from a shoe store. He also has family (doesn’t live with them) and collects subsidies from the government. Still, the Samaritan did the right thing and has taught this one another lesson. Discernment, Discernment, Discernment.
    Respectfully,
    marie

Share your thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s