Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Why Should I Go To Church?

Dear Friends,

Four years ago, it was out of the ashes of a denomination’s decision to dissolve and scatter our church that New Hope Family Church was born. Praise the Lord for that! This Sunday, February 24th, we come together in a time of joyous celebration for His grace at the time of our need. When we packed up our “tabernacle” and moved, the cloud of the glory of the Lord – the Shekinah – moved right along with us. This Sunday will be a special service of praise and thanksgiving and I hope you all will be there to celebrate with us.

So, why is church still important in our fast-paced, energized, digitalized world? I can turn on the television or any web-connected device and live-stream services of Joel Osteen, T.D. Jakes, Charles Stanley and other church superstars. So why do I need to sit through a sermon at a church? I can download music from the top worship bands in America’s mega-churches, so why do I need to listen to amateur worship singers in church? I can interact with other Christians online, so why do I need to spend time with a bunch of people at church? In this day and age, isn’t church just a quaintly old-fashioned tradition that’s on its way out?

I read a message from a person who wrote, “Frankly I just don’t get much out of the Sunday morning thing. A lot of the time, I like the music, particularly when it’s contemporary. But there is a lot that goes on Sunday morning that doesn’t do much for me. Am I supposed to feel something? What is the good of the praying and the singing and the sitting and the listening?”

The writer of that letter is a “spectator” in a main-line church and I understand the point she is making and why she feels that way. She attends her church as she attends any class, lecture, movie or concert – as a spectator who expects to be taught something that will be of value to her or to be entertained. At church, she passively sits, looks, listens and then wonders why she’s there. 

I’ll be the first one to admit that it really is pointless to attend church if you’re only a spectator. But God calls us into His Kingdom not to be a spectator but to be a participator. The Christian faith is both God’s offer of His love to us through Jesus Christ and our active response to that love. We respond to Him with our worship and praise. We respond to God’s love by simply doing the things that we do for Him because He is God. We are called to worship and glorify God and love Him forever.

What is the purpose in getting up on a Sunday and setting aside all other things in order to go to church? Why do we dress up and look nice? Why do we sing and clap and raise our hands and pray and stand and kneel and shed tears and confess and take His Body and Blood? Because we love Him. 

Why do we intercede in prayer for each other and carry their burdens? Why do we mark our calendars to remind us that a brother or sister has something that day that needs our prayer covering? Why do we send each other thoughtful notes and get well cards? Why do we volunteer to do the “hospitality” and spend a good portion of our weekly food budget to prepare a meal for each other? Because we love our neighbor as an expression of our love for Christ.

Why do we go to church? To participate! The word liturgy means “the work of the people.” Whether our liturgy is high church, low church, Catholic or Pentecostal, what takes place in our service that brings glory to God is not just the work of the pastor, it’s the work of the people. 

It is through your active participation in our quaintly old-fashioned church service that we glorify God. So, if you’d like to drop by next Sunday, I’ll see if I can find something for you to do... Amen?