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Why Go to Church?

Sometimes I think about church attendance and wonder if I and others come just to hear a good word or song. We look for inspiration so we can keep going in our lives. Most of the time, we find it. After church, we greet friends and face another week until we meet again. Sometimes, I think about those who don’t go to church. I think about the empty seats and wonder why others don’t come.

I decided to ask a few people who don’t come to church. One person said that she was criticized about the way she dressed. She found more acceptance outside of the church but she still seeks to fill that empty spot inside.

Another person told me that what he reads in the Bible and what he sees in churches are two different things. Because of this, he no longer attends church.

I recently read a book about a man who graduated with a degree in theology. The more he read and studied about Jesus, the less he saw evidence of His presence in church. He visited several churches but he could find only a few bright spots of God at work. He decided to become atheist because the evidence of God was not in the church. While I do not agree with his solution, I am challenged to understand why I go to church.

I thought about this and an old metaphor came to mind. The church is like a hospital. In fact, I’ve heard this comparison several times.

Once, the youth at my church performed a play about a hospital. This hospital took the sick that had good insurance but turned away those who did not have insurance. The uninsured sick were outside and the staff did nothing for them. But there was one staff member who fought hard and worked to get medical care for those who needed it.

Suddenly, the stage went dark. Everyone took off their hospital attire and revealed black t-shirts with various church positions: deacons, elders, youth leaders, and so on. The play continued with the one caring hospital staff becoming so frustrated with the hospital that she walked away from the church. On the back of her t-shirt, it said, “lost.”

Sometimes I think that we have church wrong. We come looking to receive a blessing so we can make it through another week only to return to receive another blessing. Rather than coming to get, why not come to give? Why not help others who seek to have a relationship with God? Why not allow God to flow through us with an attitude of giving. If each of us reached out to those around us and allowed God’s blessings to flow through us, church would make a difference in our broken society.

What would this look like? Perhaps we could find someone we don’t know, introduce ourselves and learn if this person if they needed help with anything. If they need help, then help them or help them find someone who can help.

We could find a visitor and pray with them or invite them to eat with us. Perhaps we could reach out to someone new in town and assist if any needs emerge.

Perhaps we could give a hand-written card to someone who lost a family member. Perhaps we can give someone a ride if a ride is needed. Perhaps we can say words of encouragement to the pastor; and yes, pastors need to be encouraged too. I believe a church filled with people like this would be packed.

Although I haven’t mastered this completely, when I go to church, my goal is to reach out to others. I ask God to show me what I need to do… and he does. I’ve met a lot of new folks and try to help if there is a need.

Pamela A. Williams writes from Southern California.

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About Pamela A. Williams, MPH, R.D.

Pamela A. Williams, MPH, R.D.

is a dietitian in Southern California.

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