Thursday, May 30, 2013

Why do you go to church?

I don’t usually post on controversial topics, but I just felt the need to post this. This is just one of those things I’m passionate about, and I want to share my thoughts. Please take from this what you want.

I follow a blog called Motherhood and Miscellany. She’s a homeschooling mom who has some fun ideas. From what I can tell, she’s a really nice lady and an overall good person. I do not know her personally, I only read her blog.

Last week, she posted on 9 things she likes about the Catholic Church. I’ve decided to post about this as well. Please note: this has nothing to do with the Catholic church, because I’ve heard people of ALL religions use these same reasons for attending church! I truly feel bad for this woman, because I’m afraid somewhere along the way, she got the wrong impression about the life Christ actually called Christians to live. I don’t necessarily fully blame her. Our society/country/religions allow for this type of thinking and there are lots of churches who encourage this haphazard relationship with Christ.

Anyway, in the post she lists 9 reasons she enjoys going to her local Catholic church. I have an issue with just about every one of her reasons, and I wanted to voice my opinion. I figure, where better to do this than on my own blog, right?

In her post, she mentions that her priest isn’t “overly preachy” and there is no “hellfire and damnation talk.” She even goes as far as to say “I refuse to sit and listen to someone tell me how sinful I am and how the world is going to Hell.” Later on in the post, she mentions that she has “never once heard mention of certain groups of people or of those who believe or act differently or not according to the Catholic teachings being bad or sinful or damned or anything else.” Or my favorite “the Catholic priest talks about sin and repentance sometimes, but not in a scary, crazy, accusing way.”

Um. What? Has she read the Bible? Has she ever heard one of Jesus’ own sermons? Jesus NEVER skirted around an issue, and He told people all the time that they were sinners and were going to Hell. Christ’s words were harsh. Cruel at times. At times he even got a little “crazy” or “scary” depending on how you look at it. He never held back, so why are the pastors and priest not preaching the real truth on Hell or sin? Why aren’t they saying that unbelievers are going to Hell? The Bible is pretty clear about that one. Why are we as believers spending so much time trying not to offend or accuse people?
During the Lords Supper, the disciples actually approached Jesus and asked him about some of the tough things he was telling them.
  On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” Aware that His disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? When what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” John 6:60-64

What about when He tells us to sell everything we own, hate our mother and father, even hate ourselves? What then? Is this insulting? Are you offended yet?

If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. – Luke 14:26

Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. – Luke 12:33-34

Well if that didn’t offend you, do you think that these folks were offended with Jesus when He talked to them?

57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” 59 He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” 62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” - Luke 9:57-62


If you aren’t leaving your church service on Sunday morning (or Saturday night, or Wednesday afternoon, or whenever you go) feeling like a sinner saved by the Grace of a loving and merciful Father, then why are you going to church? Why? If you want to feel good on Sundays, that’s what a spa is for, NOT A CHURCH!

I’d like to say that I don’t believe EVERY SINGLE SERMON preached from the pulpit must be on Hell or Death or whatever, but what I am saying is that if your pastor/priest NEVER preaches on it, then there is a problem! It’s clearly in the Bible.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. – Romans 3:23

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. - Romans 6:23

We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
- Isaiah 53:6

So I pose the question, “Why do you go to church?”

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. – Exodus 20:8   For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them. - Matthew 18:20

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. – Hebrews 10:23-25

Read all of 1 Corinthians 12. This speaks of the different parts of the body. How can you be a part, if you don’t go do your part?

Are you going to church to “hang out” with your friends (church is known to be a great place to make friends…I mean my closest friends in Laplace are the ones I met at church)? Do you go because they have a fantastic children’s program (that way the kids don’t complain about having to get up on Sunday mornings and go to church)? Is the church building really pretty and inviting (don’t want to be uncomfortable sitting on an old wooden pew)?  Do you go because the parking is great or it’s close to your home (no sense spending more time in your car if you don’t have to)? Do you go because the pastor makes you feel good about yourself (I mean, God is a loving God, and he will love you no matter what)? Is it simply a box you check off each week (attended church, check, now I can do whatever I want).

I could go on for days. Seriously, in the post mentioned above, the blog author actually says some of the 9 reasons she goes to that particular church is because she enjoys the music, the service is beautiful, and the people are nice. WHAT? WHAT? Let that sink in a minute. WHAT?

She never mentions whether or not the preaching is actually Biblical, which really should be #1, right? What about service? She never mentions how she’s involved in a program that helps lead others to Christ, or how she’s using her time and efforts to help the widows, orphans or poor.

People, lets get our priorities straight! Church is not a country club. It is not a karaoke bar. It is not a day spa! The pastor, music minister, children’s pastor, and youth pastor not there for your entertainment or to make you feel good. They should be there to lead worship and to teach you and your children Biblical truths. The pastor should not be censoring his message so that he doesn’t offend someone. And while works play absolutely no part in your salvation, if you love Christ, and you truly believe in his promise of eternal life, why oh why would you not use your time, money, talents, resources, etc. to help further His kingdom? What about a desire for true worship with the one true God? Shouldn’t that be a reason to attend church?

I’d love to hear your thoughts. I know this is a long rant, but folks we need to WAKE UP! There are people all around us who will die and go to Hell, but we are too worried about offending them to tell them the truth. WAKE UP! We can tell others about Christ in a loving manner, but in the end, we will probably offend people. Have you ever been offended by the Gospel? Are you better because of it?

Final random thoughts from Emily:

I’m not a theologian. I did not attend seminary. I am simply a Christian who is appalled by the fact that there are far too many churches allowing the body to get comfortable. Also, I’m writing this to myself as well. I’m as guilty as the next person of getting too comfortable in my relationship with Christ and forgetting that he DIED on a CROSS to save me from my sins! He requires nothing from me, because nothing I do will ever be good enough for me to save myself. I’ve been known to complain about church being too boring, or getting in the way of my social life. I’ve been guilty of desiring a more entertaining worship service and more programs at church for my child so he wakes up excited about church on Sunday mornings. I need to reprioritize my reasons for going to church. My desire for true worship with God, fellowship with other believers, and service to further His kingdom should be my main focus.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Emily. This is Amy, from Motherhood and Miscellany. I noticed that some traffic was coming to my blog from yours today, so I clicked through out of curiosity. I was pretty surprised by your post. Not that I disagree with it entirely, but I was surprised to read it nonetheless.

    To answer your first question about me, no I have never read the Bible. I read parts of it here and there when I was much younger, but until about three months ago, I hadn't stepped foot inside any church, other than for someone else's wedding or a funeral, in around 9 years. I didn't really even believe in God during that time. I actually wrote a post in March about the beginnings of a return of belief to my life. In that post I mentioned that a big reason for my turn away from Christianity was the way I viewed so many people being hateful and judgmental in the name of that religion.

    I am in the process of learning about God and Christianity again. I am attending church regularly, which I haven't done since I was a very young child.

    So, you asked the reasons people attend church. Here are a few of mine: I attend church because I want to learn more about Christ. I attend church because I want to grow spiritually and improve my relationship with God. I attend church because I want my children to have a solid spiritual foundation.

    The things I listed in my post as things I like about the Catholic church that we attend are part of what makes our parish appealing to me, not necessarily the reasons I attend church in general. I don't expect a sermon to never mention sin or Hell or repentance or to always allow me to feel comfortable. But I do not want to attend a church where the pastor yells and pounds and screams about Hell and what terrible sinners people are. I have been to services like that and they are not for me. I know that I am a sinner. I don't know much, but I get that part. I do not choose to attend a church where someone yells at me about it. It's a personal preference, and I don't think that is necessary.

    When I go to church I feel lots of things, and one of them is a sense of peace and growing connection with God. Yelling and pounding do not produce that feeling for me. You ridiculed me for saying so, but uplifting music and a beautiful, spiritually stimulating service are a part of what does. And attending a church where people are kind is important to me, as I have been to some where attendees are rude and judgmental. Liking these things about my church does not mean that I do not have my priorities straight.

    That said, you are right that I do not know much at all about the Bible. And you criticized me for not mentioning service. Well I'm not in a position to be in a program to help lead others to Christ. I'm fumbling my way toward Him myself. Yes, I do some charity work, though I did that before beginning to attend this church and it isn't connected with church. Our parish does have an extensive service program, but as very new attendees we have not yet gotten involved in these.

    So, I guess I just wanted to let you know that I think you misunderstood my post, at least in part. I respect your beliefs and opinions and passion about this topic, though I wish you would have posted a comment on my blog or sent me a message instead of criticizing and ridiculing me to all of your readers. I have a lot to learn. I know that. But I'd like to politely say that I don't think my reasons for attending church are any less important or valid than yours are.
    Respectfully, Amy