Why Doubters and Atheists Should Come to Church (Why Even Go to Church Part VI)

I knew a woman who spent years in the New Age movement, getting deeper and deeper into occult practices. It had started as a spiritual adventure and ended as a nightmare, leaving her desperate to find the truth about God. She told me once that as soon as she walked into our church’s service, she could feel God there and knew that she would keep coming. Through some spiritual process that was hard to explain, she knew she was home.

The most intelligent of my classmates in high school, an eloquent and convincing atheist, arrived at school one Monday morning with an uncharacteristic smile on her face. She announced to me that she had become a Christian.  I asked her what brought it about. She said she had attended a performance of Handel’s “Messiah.” At the beginning of the song she was an atheist, by the end, she was a Christian. All my labored apologetics had yielded no apparent change, but something about people singing worship music had reached her.

I remember the first few times I was among people in a worship service (dragged along to camp by a friend in school.) As I watched this roomful of kids singing and praying, I sensed that something real and profound was going on. I didn’t get it, but I wanted to. I sensed that I was missing out on something really important. Seeing worship was not enough to make a believer out of me, but it was the beginning of a very close watch on the Christian community, and the asking of a lot of questions.

Because of experiences like these, I think anyone seeking truth or longing for a connection with God should come to good church services. Obviously, people are not going to worship until after they believe, but often in the process of listening to songs, prayers and sermons, powerful things happen in our souls. Obviously I have blatantly evangelistic motives, but before dismissing Christianity, it only makes sense to be sure you’re not just going along with the culture. (Christianity, as most of us know, is just not a thing right now in the U.S.)

Ed Stetzer, a writer in missiology and church growth, tweeted this last year: “One of the most effective evangelistic methods a church can use is exposing the unchurched to the authentic worship of God.”

I would argue that people who aren’t Christians should try out some good worship services to be thorough in their exploration of what life has to offer, and people who are Christians should show up weekly, if only to be on the lookout for some people  who might have questions. That is, after all, our commission.


8 thoughts on “Why Doubters and Atheists Should Come to Church (Why Even Go to Church Part VI)

  1. Personally I would love to spend more more time in churches of worship, it would be very educational. I don’t want or need to be converted, but I’m all for finding more acceptance to the people and beliefs surround me. I’m also a full supporter of atheistic religions; a sense of community, unity in different groups beliefs, a place of support and understanding. I wish more people would realize atheism and religion aren’t opposites, along with theism and religion are the same thing. Religions definition and concept is changing(just like every other word does over time) and theism is separating from it(if its not already separated. Good life to you!

    1. Thanks for your comment. Yeah, if you’re ever in Cincinnati come to my church! We’re obviously coming from different world views. I’m convinced there is a God, revealed in Jesus, you’re the OutAtheist, and that would make for some interesting conversation. I’m worried that we’re getting so siloed in our culture; people only hanging out with and tolerating those who agree with them. Every church needs an atheist of good will asking hard questions!

      1. The way I see it if two people are both confident in their opposing beliefs and are discussing them there are only two out comes; more tolerance or more security in their personal beliefs. Good life to you!

  2. Have you ever heard of or read Hemant Mehta’s “I Sold My Soul on Ebay”? It’s a book about an atheist’s experiences going to various church services. He also gives feedback on what he thought various churches did well, and what he thought they could do better, with respect to atheists attending.

      1. Let me know what you think. I’m always trying to improve my list of books to recommend to theists to help them understand atheist viewpoints better. Mehta’s book is the best I know of so far, and it is, of course, particularly relevant to the topic of your post.

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