Lots of people don’t like church, even the ones who consider themselves committed Christians. So they don’t go at all, or they only go sometimes, or they go – but there is a look of dull misery on their faces. So why go, when it’s probably your only day to sleep in and the rest of the week is already full of stuff you don’t want to do?
I’m convinced there are some compelling reasons to go, as long as it’s not a lame church. Steer clear of churches, obviously, where hate is preached, or where people don’t welcome you. The assumption as I write is that we’re talking about churches where Christ is followed, where there is a culture of love and a devotion to truth.
In this series, I’ll give ten good reasons to go to church even if you don’t like it.
I’ll start with:
“We only know what we know together.” Drawing from findings within the Sociology of Knowledge, this statement captures the reality that whatever people say they believe, they will only live out their beliefs consistently when they are part of a community of others who share them.
This is a crucial reality to grasp if we want our lives to make sense, but Americans can be pretty clueless about it. We can get so focused on our individual rights and freedoms that we really think we can develop and maintain our beliefs and values all by ourselves. We’ve all smiled at the middle school kids who think they’re being original and ground-breaking when they go out and buy exactly the same clothes as all their friends. But we are behaving very much the same when we say things like, “I’m very spiritual. I just don’t like organized religion,” or “My beliefs are very important to me, but I’m private about them.” We breathe the air of secularism and individualism, and it comes out in statements like these.
If I say I’m a follower of Christ, but I only hang out with people who never talk about God, and I spend a lot of time on screens where people are living out their marketed realities without reference to God, and I listen to lots of songs that idolize things other than God – I am soon going to feel that God is not relevant to life, or even that God is not there.
So one solid reason to go to church is to live into the truths we have come to believe. To recognize that we are social creatures who need the truth reinforced over and over is not weakness, but wisdom.
There’s nothing sexy about reciting creeds, but they are the bedrock of our lives. To hear the Scripture read, to sing true songs (even the musically annoying ones,) and to hear stories of what God is doing in people’s lives – this is foundational. Without it faith does not grow and may not even survive.
We need our objectivity and a healthy dose of skepticism while we are exploring what we believe. But once we are convinced of truth, the next need is to remain in it, to cling to it against the waves of lies that wash over us all day long.
Once a week probably isn’t enough. Maybe we should gather every morning to remind one another of the truth before we venture into the day. Once a week is just my survival dose.
(Next in this series, “You Can’t Love People You Never See.”)