Perhaps I’m biased as a pastor, but I believe church involvement is extremely important. Lots of other Christians would agree with me on this, too. When we show up to church, we have the opportunity to grow closer to God and learn from other believers.
Most Sundays we profess that we believe “in the holy catholic church” during the Apostles’ Creed. Catholic in this sense is not a denomination, but rather signifies the universal church. We don’t just believe in Concord, the Methodist church, or churches in America… we believe in the church all over the world!
Here’s a brief list of reasons why I believe in the church…
1. The church is all about worshipping God
Sometimes we do treat church attendance like a box to check off so we follow the rules. Sometimes we may think church is just a place to visit with close friends or family. Perhaps we view it as a concert where we sing our favorite songs. These misleading, limited views neglect the big picture. Church is first and foremost about worshipping God. Friendship and enjoyment can be nice, but these are never the primary purposes!
Most of our week is spent laboring in one way or another. Such work is biblical, where we do tend to our affairs in daily life. But God invites us to spend time worshipping him in the midst of all the busyness we may encounter. Regularly gathering together on Sunday gives us the precious opportunity to praise God. It is such a powerful experience to stop for a moment, remember it is not about us, and give God the glory. We thank God for life’s blessings. Perhaps most importantly, we praise who God is. Personally speaking, I find that my life makes a whole lot more sense if I am having regular worshipful encounters with God.
2. God speaks to us through the church
Similar to my point about worshipping God, going to church is a wonderful opportunity to communicate with God. Of course, Christians pray together on Sunday morning. God can also use music, scripture readings, sermons, and conversations to communicate to us. It is my hope that after attending church at Concord, people would feel a little bit closer to God, and build upon that feeling as the weeks and years progress.
We can experience God in many ways, from witnessing a beautiful sunset, reading a book, to even sitting in silence on your front porch. These can obviously be impactful experiences, but nothing compares to worshipping God in the context of a community of faith. Church gives us the important opportunity to hear from God together as a family.
3. God gave the world the church
Throughout the Old Testament, we read about God’s movement among humanity. God called people like Abram and his descendants to witness to their neighbors. It seems like with every passing chapter, God sought to increase the “reach” of Israel. Other people were to hopefully see how Israel lived, and in turn follow Yahweh.
Though there were countless patriarchs, judges, kings, and prophets, it is worth noting that God did not chose to establish a worldly government to accomplish God’s purposes. Kingdoms did play a part in the Old Testament, but the climax of the biblical narrative comes a bit later. Instead, God gave the world Jesus Christ and his “bride” the church. This is how God solves the world’s problems. Through a relationship with Christ, Christians lift one another up and evangelize the world. God didn’t give us a political party, economic system, or even charismatic human leader… God gave us the church! I believe in the church because this unique community of believers was gifted to us by God. We ought to cherish those relationships as a God-given blessing.
4. The church is open to all
Some religions teach that one has to learn a unique language or move to a certain area in order to be a faithful follower. Christianity is so revolutionary because Christ meets us wherever we are. The bible can be translated to any language. We can worship in so many unique ways. We can follow God wherever we find ourselves. The church, when it lives up to it’s calling, is truly open to all. It is adaptable and eager to reach people in far off places (both geographically and socially!). God’s kingdom is open to everyone. In fact, God desires that no one would ever be left out, as we read about in 2 Peter 3:9 (“The Lord is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance”).
I often marvel about how radically inclusive the church is called to be. We ought not care about someone’s skin color, language, country of origin, net worth, past baggage, or struggles. If you ask me, this is such a revolutionary concept in today’s world, given how prevalent racism, nationalism, and bigotry can be. We too often rush to divide ourselves and judge and exclude others. However, the church is inclusive. All human categories we come up with don’t matter… a fellow Christian is truly a brother or sister. To put it in Paul’s words in Galatians 3:28, there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, we are all one in Christ. And even if someone is not a Christian, we ought to treat them as a potential sibling in God’s family! Indeed the church is open to all.
5. The church has an outward mission
It is so easy to be inwardly focused nowadays. We are tempted to solely look out for ourselves, even at the expense of others. Sins like greed are frequently valued as positive traits. Many “good” things in life like friendship can quickly turn egotistical when we treat people as things to use for our personal benefit. We often struggle with being self-absorbed.
The true nature of the church is so different than any other worldly system. The church’s mission is to make disciples. Notice how this is not self-serving. It’s not about the color of the church carpet. Rather, it is about sharing the love of God with other people. The church’s outward mission is unlike anything humans could create on their own. Organizations, movements, structures, and governments exist to look out for one’s own interest. The church, on the other hand, seeks to love God and love neighbor.
Even though we should never be legalistic about attendance or think that simply showing up will result in deeper faith, coming to church allows you to participate in what God is doing. We have the biblical command to meet together with other believers. We are called to belong to one another.