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Friday, October 18, 2013

Why I go to church

Why do I go to church?

"While many things in Scripture can be elusive, the truth that God intends us to worship, serve, and fellowship together is not one of them." - Prayers from the Pews: The Power of Praying for Your Church by Teri Lynne Underwood

(Church means a group of believers, and perhaps others, meeting together. It doesn't mean a building, although many churches meet in designated church buildings.)

I don't go to church because doing so will keep me from eternal punishment. As someone said, "going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than going into a garage makes you an automobile." Being a believer, following Christ, is not a bargain, sealed by correct behavior on my part. It is, however, a life of obedience and trust, in Christ as Lord and Savior.

So why do I go to church?
1) Because it's a lifelong habit, and habits are hard to break.
2) Because the New Testament indicates that doing so is being obedient. Here's what the author of Hebrews had to say:
10:24 Let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good works, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as the custom of some is, but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as you see the Day approaching. (World English Bible, public domain. All Bible quotations from that source.)
3) Because the New Testament indicates that that's what the early church did:
1 Corinthians 11:18 For first of all, when you come together in the assembly, I hear that divisions exist among you, and I partly believe it. 19 For there also must be factions among you, that those who are approved may be revealed among you. 20a When therefore you assemble yourselves together . . .
4) Because it is my responsibility to encourage other people to do good things, and to be encouraged by others, in the same way, and the church offers opportunities for these transactions. (See Bible quotation for point 2)
5) Because a church can do things that I cannot do, such as send out missionaries, or carry out charitable projects. (The New Testament Church did these things, too.) I can join in some such efforts, contribute funds for such activities, and pray for the results, but I can't do them myself.
6) Because I can serve others. Different people serve in different ways. I should serve in ways that God calls me to, that the church appoints me to, and that I believe I am gifted in, have some ability in, and background for.
7) Because I can worship collectively. I'm not a choir by myself. I don't prepare a sermon every week. I shouldn't take the Lord's Supper by myself. The passage in 3), above, is particularly about observing the Lord's Supper, as a body of believers. The New Testament church seems to have met together, not just for observation of the Lord's supper, but for fellowship and worship.
8) Because I can learn. The pastor, or a group leader, or some other believer, may have an insight that I don't have. Someone may introduce a song that I haven't heard before, but should sing and think about.
9) Because I can find out about things to pray for, and others can be told of prayer concerns that I have.
10) Because the church is a good influence on children. We took our children, and, when we can, still attend church with them, and with our grandchildren. If the church isn't there, or isn't as good as it can be, because I don't support it, then what happens to the next generation?
11) Because I like the people. That shouldn't be the primary reason, and some of the people may not be very likable. I may not be, either. But most of them are people I'd like to maintain friendships with. God has made us to be social beings.
12) Because, sometimes, it's an emotionally uplifting experience. Sometimes I see, in church, evidence that someone else is growing spiritually. Sometimes the music moves me, or the words of the music. Sometimes the sermon makes me realize that I have fallen short, and need to do better, in some area. Is it always an emotionally uplifting experience? No, but I should be there when it is.
13) Because the Old Testament believers offered collective praise to God, and we should, too. Church music, especially, isn't supposed to be about me. It's supposed to be about praising God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

Thanks for reading. See also "Why Should We Worship Together."


Lillian said...

Dr Labar, I was writing in my prayer journal this morning regarding one of our grandchildren who feels they can serve the Lord apart from corporate worship. Having been in church all my life I cannot think very rationally outsde of these parameters. So, I drank in your blog which gave me much to think about. Our grandchild and her family are coming for Christmas and I plan to pray that God will allow me to share some of your reasoning with her. By the way, she was brought up in the church. Thanks for your wisdom.

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks, Lillian.