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Why should I go to church?

December 12, 2013 11 Comments

by Don Schiemann

Rev. Don Schiemann

Rev. Don Schiemann

“Give me one good reason why I should go to church!” That’s a perfectly legitimate and valid question. It may have been in vogue to go to church 50 or 60 years ago; but, as most denominations will attest, church membership and attendance has experienced a steady decline since then. We had better be prepared to provide a good reason for people to start coming back to church.

What do churches have to offer that would move people to join them and become involved in worship and service? Let’s take a look at some of the “strategies” that certain churches have employed and the responses we might hear.

Church 1: We’re a friendly church.
The response: “So what. I have lots of friends and even if I didn’t, I would still look outside of the church. I simply don’t have much in common with ‘church people.’”

Church 2: Our church has a social conscience and we work for the poor and homeless.
The response: “I spent two weeks last summer working for Habitat for Humanity. I give regularly to the United Way and helped serve Thanksgiving dinner at the local soup kitchen. I didn’t need the church to do all of that so why do I need them now?”

Church 3: Our church has all kinds of activities for youth that will help them build character.
The response: “My kids are involved in hockey, soccer and music lessons. They are already challenged to find time for their school work let alone some church organization. As far as character, that’s my job and I make sure they practice responsible sex and don’t do drugs.”

Church 4: Our church will help you live a happy, meaningful, successful and fulfilled life.
The response: “No thanks.  I just read Steven Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, and I watch Dr. Phil and Oprah regularly so I think I’ve got that area covered.”

Church 5: Our church offers fairs, strawberry socials, oyster suppers, square dancing, Japanese weddings, poverty socials, mock marriages, grab bags, necktie socials, etc.
The response: “Umm…I don’t think so.”

Church 6: We offer you a new life.
The response: “What’s wrong with my old life?!”

Well, if you’re like everyone else, you’ve made a lot of mistakes in your life. You’ve hurt people—sometimes even those closest to you; and in one way or another, you’ve disobeyed all of God’s law. Your life is quite broken. It may or may not be comfortable, but it is broken!

“Can’t I fix it on my own?”

If you could fix it, why haven’t you? The fact is, you can’t. But God can. He nailed our broken lives to the cross with His Son and in His resurrection, we have a newness of life.

“And I can receive this new life at church?”

Yes. But even better, we’ll provide you with what you need to sustain this new life. You’ll hear God’s promises spoken. You’ll receive the body and blood of Christ in Holy Communion to forgive the deeds of your old life and to strengthen your new life. God will take simple water and connect it with His Word and wash away the old life. We’ll give you something that you can take to the grave and that will one day take you out of the grave!

What’s the catch? What do I have to do? How much is it going to cost me?

There is no catch. There is nothing you have to do. There is nothing you can do. There is a great cost attached to this, but God has already paid it for you. It’s like this: “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:3-7).

Well?

———————
Rev. Don Schiemann is President of the Alberta-British Columbia District of Lutheran Lutheran–Canada.

  • Dean Kavouras

    Nice to hear from you, Don. Hope all is well with you and yours.

  • Joe Das

    Well said. O Come, Emanuel!

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  • Keith

    I grew up in the Lutheran church, left it soon after confirmation – returned to the church 20 years ago after attending a Promise Keepers event. Four years ago I once again left – I’ve never been hurt by a group of people as badly as I was by The Church!

    This blather about how the church can provide what’s needed to heal a person is a total bunch of crap. Since leaving the church I spoke of before I’ve been trying to find a new church. Everyone has it’s problems, this is understood, however everyone of them has serious problems.

    The first we visited over 10 times…thought maybe, just maybe this could fill the needs of my family. We decided to attend Sunday school where we learned that the Catholic church was of Satan and in order to belong to that congregation we had to subscribe to that doctrine.

    The second one we attended for over 18 months on a fairly regular basis at least 2 Sundays a months (this church has no Adult Education or Sunday school for it’s kids). On Christmas we were greeted by more people from our old church then members of this church. In the 18 months we were going we were greeted by the pastor once, an elder once and one other member of the church we didn’t know before attending. This is the church of my daughter’s husband’s family. Even when mentioning this to the pastor I was brushed off…yeah we were being fed there.

    The third, we decided to try another Lutheran church. We attended three times then received a letter to join a membership class. We hadn’t even talked to the pastor yet…oh yeah after a bit of investigation this congregation is having problems paying for a building project they had financed and the main point of the membership drive was to get members in to pay for the project. Oops, yeah that one is all about Christ.

    The fourth, another Lutheran church with a building project that was financed. blah blah blah blah blah.

    So, a community of Christ that is supposed to provide for it’s members – love, compassion, friendship, a safe environment etc. Four years later we no longer have any friends from that church – still experience hate from some members when running into them in the community. Non of what I understand Christ to be about has been experienced in the church by myself. It was nothing but a struggle from day one. And before you jump to the conclusion that I expected the church to come to me I was involved at all levels of membership. Vice president of the church council to the Men’s Ministry leader. Youth leader to lay worship leader…pretty much did it all, thought I was a member of the core group (boy howdy did I learn differently)…when we left the congregation they couldn’t wait to escort us out.

    Yeah the church is the place to experience Christ! You betcha. Gotta end this by saying I was treated much fairer in the secular communities of which I have belonged then ever in the church.
    Keith

    .

    • Terrence
    • Amiablejak

      were you acting as Christ to others, or just expecting them to be Christlike to you? Letting down our barriers and really healing and helping takes some heavy lifting. More than sitting on a church board. I’m sorry you have been churned through the mill. opening up to each other … that is where Christ finds us.

    • Stacie

      Keith, don’t let Satan win he wants you to believe the the world is better, he wants to cause separation between you and Christ. I have experienced hurt from my brothers and sisters in Christ but I also realize like any family we have to work together to improve our relationships. And yes being sinners we will fail again and again but that is where as Christians we learn to follow Jesus’s footsteps to improve relationships and ourselves. Spending time learning together with other Christians is important just as Jesus established his ministry with large groups sermons on the mounts like church, small groups were his group of 12 disciples, and the sent them out in groups of two or three, and prayer with our Heavenly Father. When looking at Jesus’s ministry you start to see that he didn’t want us walking alone in our faith. I have been in your struggle before and I will be praying for you that you are able to find or help create the proper environment in your church home with brothers and sisters in Christ who attempt to love like Jesus did with His help. Remember none of this is possible with out God’s help. so pray and read the Bible daily. Shallom

  • Sheila

    Going to church….it’s cheaper than therapy…and the potluck dinners rock!

  • dgosse01

    Because it’s true.

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  • Steve

    Keith, I’m sorry to hear about your frustrations with the churches where you have been. You are right. The church is a terrible place. It is filled with sinners, degenerates, haters, and hypocrites. But then it is supposed to be. The church isn’t a social club or a self-help spa. The church is a hospital for the sick. It is a place where the hurting come where they can receive the balm of Gilead. It is a place where their broken hearts can be bound. Unfortunately, congregations are not the church. Congregations are made up of sinners with selfish motives and self-centred ideas. Many congregations do not see themselves as a hospital for the sick but a centre for self-improvement (at best) or self-promotion (at worst). This can leave the hurting lost and frustrated. I encourage you though to see the difference between the church and the congregation. More importantly understand that even in a horrible congregation, if the word is preached in its purity and the sacraments administered rightly, there is Christ, serving you, Seek out a congregation where this is the case. Recognize that those in the pews with you are just a big bunch of sinners in need of the same things you are, but unsure how to receive them or share them. Even my own beloved congregation has many flaws, but it too has been harmed by others in leadership. Yet the Lord works, in spite of the sinner through whom he works.