Last week we made our first road trip in more than a year, a thousand-mile round trip to Santa Fe at the foot of the Sangre de Christo mountains. People were everywhere. The roads were packed, as were the usual stops at McDonald’s and Love’s. Restaurants were busy with waits of an hour or more. The year of isolation appears to be over, and everyone wants to go somewhere.
But will we return to church? Michelle Boorstein, writing for The Washington Post, pondered the question: “All year clergy have been waiting to see if slews of people will decide to become virtual-only members, flit between multiple virtual services, or just quit congregational life altogether.”
As I have thought about it, I have asked myself the question, “Why should I go to church?”
I should go to church because, down deep, I believe in Jesus Christ. I think it is what He would want me to do. Even though the Jewish authorities turned against Him, it was always Jesus’ custom, or “habit” to attend the synagogue each Sabbath (Luke 4:16). And even though churches are seldom what they ought to be, I need to follow Jesus’ example.
I go because I need to be encouraged in my faith and I want to encourage others. While I have been disappointed by some pastors and church leaders over the years, I have found many more that inspire me. I find that going to church lifts my spirits. Other believers take an interest in me and pray for me. And I seek to do the same for them. (1 Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 3:13)
I go to church because churches make the world a better place. All churches, as we know, are flawed. Someone once asked me if I knew of any churches that did not have any problems. I asked if he knew of churches that didn’t have any people. Where there are people, there will be problems. But most churches seek ways to feed the hungry, help the poor, comfort the grieving and care for the aging. Churches pull us outside ourselves and call us to a higher and better world.
I go because I want my children to go. Even though my children are grown and gone, I still want to be an example to them, as I sought to be when I was raising them. Going to church is a discipline. Sometimes I don’t feel like it. But I have learned over the years that the best things in life require effort. Worship, Christian fellowship, and service are disciplines that I believe are worth passing on to the next generation.
I am sure there are many other reasons why people attend church. There are other reasons why I do as well, but these are the three that stand out in my mind.
Soon, I hope, churches will be filled with welcoming smiles, warm embraces and joyful singing. As the Scripture says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on to love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25).