When one Christian meets another Christian, a common question is, “Where do you go to church?’’ The intent of the question may be ambiguous. Is the questioner asking about one’s participation, membership, or worship attendance? Very often, it relates to worship because we usually equate “going to church” and “going to worship.”
I have been “going to church” since I was a preschooler and have good memories of worship, both with my grandmother and later with my parents. As a believer and a minister, I have been exposed to all types of worship over the years, sung a multitude of hymns, and heard (as well as preached) more sermons than I can count.
So why do I still “go to church”? Certainly I have absorbed all that I need and have passed the course by now. But I still show up on Sunday mornings to worship. Let me share a few reasons.
First, the worship service is one of the few opportunities I have during the week to fellowship with people from various walks of life. Some are business people, some are teachers, some are farmers, some are full-time parents—they all do things during the week that are very different from what I do. Worshipping with these folks reminds me of the diversity and variety within the body of Christ.
Second, I get to worship with my family. Rita and I enjoy sharing a pew with children and grandchildren (and occasionally a great-grandchild). As I watch their participation and response to worship, I am reminded of the importance of nurturing a new generation of believers.
Third, I like the music. Whether I am in traditional or contemporary worship, I am blessed by the gifts of talented musicians who are making an offering to God and inviting me to be both observer and participant. No matter who leads worship, it is a community experience. Where else do you have the opportunity to sing along with others on a regular basis and where else is the performance focused on God and not individual talents?
Fourth, I learn from the preaching. Despite all the sermons I have heard, the Spirit of God continues to speak through a committed and gifted spokesperson. The preacher of the morning may have a new perspective on the text or perhaps I am just at a stage in my life when I become aware of a different aspect of the text, but the Spirit continues to speak through the messenger of the day.
Fifth, joining others in worship is what God intends for believers. In Hebrews 10:24-25, we read:
“So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.” (The Message)
We need each other as we walk along the way. We need to encourage and be encouraged. The journey may sometimes be hard, but others are on the path as well.
See you in church Sunday?