It seems a rather simple question doesn’t it, “why go to Church?” You would figure that millions of people would know the answer to such a question within the blink of an eye. But, if so many do, why do we walk into Churches filled with people who would rather not be there? The question is simple, but the answer is difficult.
In order to respond to such a question, I’d rather just tell you a bit of my story. You see, for years I went to Church and was even very involved. I didn’t particularly like Church, but I felt it was a requirement of my faith, so I did it anyway. Frankly, I have a sneaky suspicion I was not the only one at Church on Sunday morning attending for a reason other then my own personal desire. The facts of the matter are that I thought it was the thing I was supposed to do and so I did it. Plain and simple.
As I grew up I still wrestled with Church. I failed to understand why so many people went to Church that didn’t want to be there. I mean, I understood why they went, but my gut said that those people really could LOVE Church if something was different about Church. The facts are, those people sitting in service Sunday morning, waiting to bolt for the parking lot, simply aren’t being reached in the right way. When I began to come to this conclusion, that those people could really LOVE Church if they found the right kind of Church, it was life shattering.
It might sound silly, but the reason I didn’t really like Church was because I had a holy discontent with what happened after Church. I would walk out of the building and it was as if the Church had installed magic metal detectors that switched my brain off ‘Church mode’ and back to ‘life mode’ immediately upon exit. I was going to Church, but what good was it if when I left the building nothing was different? What good was Church if I attended for months and my day to day actions were barely affected? Sure, I would often remark that particular sermons were moving, but was I really changed? Could other people really see that I was changed? Or were the sermons just eloquently delivered and intellectually stimulating?
The reality was I didn’t want to go to Church because Church wasn’t really equipping me for the mission God gave me, the mission God gave all of us. You see, in Matthew, God himself gives man a mission we aptly nickname “The Great Commission,”
“18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Therefore, if Church was aimed at feeding me the spiritual calories I needed to be nourished, but not equipping me to do as Jesus said and make disciples, something was inherently wrong. When I realized that, I dramatically altered my Church attendance strategy. It’s comical, but today I go to Church for the same reason any superhero has a home base – to gather together with those people on the same mission and, together, re-equip for the mission we all go on tomorrow – to mission to make disciples.
If we all thought of Church not as a place we go to be fed, but instead as place we go to better serve tomorrow, what would Church look like for you? Would you have the same feelings about Sunday morning? Would you act the same way come Monday? Would the Church itself look and act completely different? Personally, I think if the Church became more about what happens on Monday-Saturday and less about what happens on Sunday morning, we might all see the change we have been looking for in the Church and we all will surely know the answer to the question… “why do I go to Church?”