In talking with various church leaders, while also observing my own congregation, the ongoing trend of people joining their locally gathering church less often is striking. Find any study on church engagement and they all say the same thing: people go to church less often now than in years and decades prior.
In this post I want to explore why my family prioritizes being part of our church’s weekly gatherings every week. Then next week I’ll look at how we make that a possible outcome.
As a pastor part of my job is to not only show up for my own local church weekly gatherings, but to lead them. I recognize my family is in a different position than nearly everyone else in my church, and other churches as well. Part of my “why” for going to church is that it is my job to do so. But the why goes much deeper than a paycheck, and my commitment to the local church stems from something far deeper than a job. Those motivations are why I write all this, not because I want more people in the seats at my church.
Why we go to church every Sunday:
1. God’s Word commands it.
Those who say they love Jesus but don’t need the church clearly misunderstand the commands of God’s Word to not give up meeting together (Heb 10), and to be devoted to fellowship with one another (Acts 2), so that the body of Christ can be built up (Eph 4).
We were not created for isolation. God designed for our lives to be intertwined and to inform one another. When Christians choose not to prioritize gathering with their church, they are denying themselves the benefits God had in mind for those who are part of the body.
Yes, the church is bigger than any one specific locally gathering body of believers, but by committing to one and prioritizing it we enable ourselves to step into the blessings behind God’s command.
2. We don’t exist for ourselves alone.
“I’m not getting much out of the sermons.”
“The music isn’t good.”
Yes those are some cliche critiques of church gatherings, and yet I’ve heard both more times than I can count. My response is always the same to these critiques: “good thing church isn’t about how much you like it.” Harsh? Yes. Truthful? Yes.
Church isn’t a spectator sport where we leave and critique the on-stage characters on the drive to Sunday brunch. Church is a body where we put into practice that we don’t merely exist for ourselves, but we serve those around us with our presence, our ministry, and our encouragement.
3. Lead by example.
I want my kids to know that I don’t sacrifice church so I can watch football or sleep in. I want my church community to know that I care enough about them to be around them every week. I could talk about making Christ and his body a priority in my life, but even better would be to show it through my actions.
Many Christians complain about the behaviors and priorities of others who call themselves Christians without considering what kind of example they themselves are setting through their own actions. Be the change. Show the way.
I’m sure I’m missing a variety of other “whys” for going to church every week, but these rise to the top for me. Next week I’ll look at more practical things that make being at church every week easier for my family.