Recently, a “Christian Celebrity” stated he didn’t attend church very often. His explanation was thorough, but as you can imagine there was a fair amount of push back to his comments, especially from those who go to church, and like it!
First, let me say, I appreciated his comments. He was honest. Much of what we do for church today is uninspiring and boring to him. Now, depending upon your church experience you might agree. Specifically, it was stated that teaching and singing didn’t excite him – he would rather work or be more active. I get it!
Before I jump into my thoughts on the matter, let me first caution each of us – celebrities are the exception or outliers not the norm. Whether the person is a famous musician, actor, author, artist, athlete, personality, etc. he or she is not like “most people.” That is why she or he is famous! That does not mean their experience is vastly different than ours, but what they experience is different. We should be cautious in following anyone’s example, but especially that of a celebrity. Instead, consider following the example of someone you actually share time with.
Now, to my thoughts on why one should attend church*.
*Church can mean two things: a building or a gathering of believers in Jesus. I prefer the gathering definition.
- Central to many, the gathering of believers, the church, involves an act of remembrance. In American Evangelical Christianity, the act of remembrance (communion, Eucharist, or Lord’s Supper) is practiced with varying levels of frequency. In the historical traditions of Christianity and denominations and movements around the globe, the act of remembrance is practiced nearly every time the believers gather, particularly as they gather on Sunday. The physical presence of bread and cup, serve to remind us of the presence of Jesus in history. The breaking of the bread and the wine or juice in the cup serve to remind us of God who became flesh and died for our sin. We tend to be forgetful people! When we come to church, we do so to be reminded.
- There are also the songs that are shared and messages that are declared. Each of these, like the bread and the cup, serve to remind us of things we are inclined to forget. We tend to forget about the sacrifice of God, the call to sacrifice our own interests, the sin in our lives, the brokenness of creation, and even the sense that there is more to life than the mere physical elements of our lives. We come to church to remember, lest we forget.
- Our memories tend to drift and so we need to be reminded of our mission, too. When we gather, we remind one another there is work to be done. Some of the work is noble, some of it is mundane. All of the work can be forgotten, and when it is, we suffer.
- Just as the bread and cup serve as a reminder, for many they see the bread and cup as empowering. It is in the bread and cup that many experience the grace and love of Christ poured out for them.
- There is a sense of courage that comes from being connected to a larger group. Some coming together with other believers empowers us because we are reminded we are not alone.
- The internal sense of empowerment is increased when others speak words of hope and encouragement to us. Courage to dream and live out the dream comes through the gathering of believers.
- Just as we are forgetful and even fearful, we are also likely to be self-centered. As we gather with believers, we are given the opportunity to share with those in need. Possibly the need will be from someone within the gathering, or the need may be something we are made aware of because we are interacting with others.
- Some of what we are led to share will come out of our reservoir of strength. You or I may be asked to contribute based on our skills or resources. If we stay selfish, we may neglect in the call to share.
- Finally, we may be led to share out of sacrifice. Regardless of how we become aware of a need, there will arise a moment when what we are led to share will cost us something. It is at this time that our participation in the church is most tested. Left to ourselves, we are less inclined to share.
When we make church about entertainment or simply a social engagement, it will lose its appeal. The gatherings will become stale and boring. We will wonder “is there more?” After a while we will have heard all the stories, sung
all most some of the songs, and been nice to the people sitting near us. Yet, it is entirely possible to miss out on what we are to remember, how we can be empowered, and the call to share.
If you are bored with your church, take a moment to ask yourself, “What do I come to church for?”
The “Christian Celebrity” admitted he didn’t need the entertainment or social engagement, and so he is bored with church.
For me, the church, the gathering of believers, is done for remembrance, empowerment, and sharing. These three things will keep me participating in church.
There is a lot more to be said on this subject than one blog. My hope is this will serve as a conversation starter for you and many others. So, weigh in, what are you thoughts? Let’s wrestle with this together.