It’s true: except for a 2 year period when I lived in Boston, I am, for the first time in my entire life, choosing to go to Church on Sunday mornings. What I mean by this is that the rest of the my life I didn’t have a choice. As a kid my parents were church people, and as I’ve said elsewhere–I didn’t feel I had much of a choice in the matter.
In college I worked at a church, and then right after I got my masters degree I started working as a pastor–and pastors can’t just decide to go to another church on a whim–there’s the sermon and all that to deliver on.
Up through June 24, 2012, every Sunday of the year, every year, except for vacations, I had no choice on where to go to church. I had to go.
The reality is right now I not only can go to any church, I could perhaps even skip church and nobody would notice much. They would all assume I had other important duties elsewhere, or might even be speaking at another church. So, it’s all up to me now.
It’s got me reflecting on why I go to church in the first place. It’s got me making true choices about where to go to church, and what to do once I get there. The wingtip is on the other foot for this pastor (if I owned a pair of wingtips, that is).
So, here are some first shot observations about why I think I go to church… more on all this later:
- Deciding to go to church is a chance for spiritual unity for my family.
- Coming to church all together in the car is good for us… it’s a weekly pilgrimage for my family.
- It’s a chance to chance to give money–I become a consumeristic Scrooge if I don’t give.
- It’s a chance to see what my money is contributing towards–a weekly “status report” on my biggest investment.
- I get to hear testimonies… that stuff is really happening, among people I barely know, but who are impacted by God and my church.
- I miss out on the political junkie shows on the network that usually tick me off more than inspire me.
- I get to hear about justice instead of politics… the politicians seem to have forgotten right and wrong in the fight of winners and losers, and the church is remembering.
- I hear a different view of the economy than the weekly grind I usually hear–a different way to see the money in my pocket too.
- I get an irrelevant interruption in my week that feels odd–but a good sort of odd… it’s different and jarring, it wakes me up.
- I see bizarre symbols – stained glass and pulpits and the bread and the cup and the cross and the baptismal: stuff that says: we ain’t in Kansas anymore.
- I am forced to contemplate whether sacred space might actually exist–when every bone in my body fights the notion.
- I get to participate, whereas most of my life the arts are consumed as entertainment, in church the arts are usually participatory
- I have to state scripture when they do those readings… These are forced on me… I have to read it before checking the slides first. This makes me submit. I don’t like that. But I need it.
- I get to have hallway conversations where people ask me questions about my life–the weekly rhythm of church is better than daily in ways, and better than occasionally. It’s big picture without being distant.
- I can hear a preacher speaking in a way I wouldn’t, and in a way that applies to US not just me. I learn to listen for US, not just ME. I only have two of the 3,000 ears.
- I am exposed to Christian worship music. I don’t like most Christian music for a variety of reasons, but church forces this on me in worship–and I find I sing these songs to myself later more often which is good for the soul.
- I get to hear how the church is helping the poor–with some of my money perhaps–and how the church is doing things I would never be able to do on my own.
- I get to hear the way the church views hot button issues of the day–my worldview is shaped on Sundays.
- I am exposed to people of different races and ethnicities and socioeconomic classes and nationalities and educational experiences.
- I get to hear what the church is doing overseas and pray for it.
- I hear of ways to volunteer my time in ways that fit me–or that fit someone I know that I can pass it on to.
- I hear cool quotes from the pastor that I can tweet out to my friends.
How about you… why do you go to church?
Or, if you have to go currently–why would you go, if you could choose (I’m looking at you, pastor-types).