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5 WHY Reasons I Go To Church

I don't know where I'm going But I sure know where I've been Hanging on the promises in songs of yesterday Here I go again, here I go again.

-Whitesnake, probably not singing about finding a new church home

We recently moved after being in an area for close to 25 years and wanted to prioritize finding a new church. We've visited a few in the area, and in last week's post I suggested 5 Non-Theological Reasons We Will Not Be Attending Your Church in response to some of what we saw as we visited. I called them "non-theological" in the sense that none of the reasons were make it or break it points in our decision or main points of orthodoxy.

While my points may have sounded a bit negative, I promise I love the Church (capital C, universal!). I believe in the local church. My family roots have been closely tied to churches my entire life. As a 7 year old, I got two TWO doll birthday cakes one year from ladies in the church and boy, if that didn't seal the deal! From then on I knew I LOVE THE CHURCH.

My husband and I have always included attending a church as part of our lives and have met our closest friends through the church, and have found joy in serving alongside other believers. We've prayed the Lord would continue to move us toward where we are supposed to be. But we're also older now, and having left a place where we were comfortable both in being known and in knowing, we weren't really prepared for the tiredness (homesickness) we'd feel looking for a place where we knew we'd be starting over. But here we are (happy! but a little tired).

The first thing I did was make sure I revisited my why, which happens to be my favorite question. If you can't define your why I should be doing something, I lose interest, intention and involvement quickly. Basically, Solve for why and you'll have your answer. In asking why about church, it would help me know how to tell the difference between my wants, my selfish pride and the actual REASONS for choosing a church home.

Why do I go to church?

God tells us to (Eph. 2:19-22, Heb. 10:25, Mt 22:36).

Why does the church exist?

I most closely align with this statement: “The mission of the church is to go into the world and make disciples by declaring the gospel of Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit and gathering these disciples into churches, that they might worship the Lord and obey his commands now and in eternity to the glory of God the Father.”(DeYoung) (Mt. 28:18-20)

So, from a positive perspective, here are

5 WHY Reasons I Go to Church

subtitle: not a complete list of reasons but i'm not writing a book, so here we are

Learning to Follow: There's a lot of talk in the church about our strengths, the spiritual gifts we've been given, or pursuing our calling, but if we're honest, a lot of those approaches are human-made and -led instead of remembering the why of serving/leading/following: To glorify God, encourage each other and make disciples. (Eph. 2:19-22, Heb. 10:25)

I took the spiritual gift test multiple times and every single time (even when I try to fudge it) (who fudges on a spiritual gift test??), Mercy ends up at the very bottom. In the Lord's humor, do you know how many times my non-mercy is called upon to be merciful? Which is probably why it's called a spiritual gift, because only the Holy Spirit Himself could make me be anything close to resembling someone with mercy. Alternatively, constantly being told your spiritual giftedness can lead to pride getting in the way - both in us demanding we have the right to use that gift in the church context and in deciding since we're not good at mercy, we don't have to grow in it or utilize it. Of course we have strengths and those strengths should be used in the context of the church, but always with our why in mind.

Learning to follow isn't always easy, but ultimately I knew I needed to focus on what the Lord tells me about who I am and who I should be as opposed to being swayed by human-made tests. Learning it's not all about me helps me depend on Him to develop a willing spirit in me and it teaches me to follow Him and be sanctified as I become more like Him. My ultimate why.

Learning About My Family: Well, if there's anything that's going to ruin the perfect church, it's people. Me being a people as well. You too. I heard someone say people chastise the church for not accepting imperfect people but then they themselves leave at the first sign of imperfection. The truth is, as believers, these people are our family, our brothers and sisters. And no, it's not easy, but stick with it, settle in for the long haul, stay around long enough for people to have to have patience with you. Learn to have tough conversations, how to forgive and how to work as a team, pray for others, learn to stand for what is right. You will grow as a believer as you learn to be with other people.(This is not an excuse for sinful behavior being in the church. That is an entirely different topic and there is absolutely no room for abuse in the church.)

With time, hopefully you'll gravitate toward a few closer friends who become those who are willing to sit with you in your cynicism, questions and frustrations. Friends who will cry with you, empathize with your pain, bring you enchiladas in your grief. Encourage you in your joy, rejoice with you in your answers to prayer, inspire you to follow the Lord. Willing to share a cup of coffee with you as you iron-sharpen-iron each other in the Word (Prov. 27:17).

Learning to be Welcoming: I hypothesize that if you know your why as to

why do I go to church?

why am I at this particular local church?

this helps you know your

why will I go to church and be friendly today?

Did you ever notice that pastors are particularly good at greeting people? Sure, they could be faking it I guess, but I bet it's more that they know their why of being there that day. It's not hard to say hi. If you're intimidated or shy or an introvert, just smile. At first this feels tiring, awkward and a bit lonely as we try to figure out our place and get to know people. Give it time and pray for peace in the process.

Of course we will be attracted to a friendly church who welcomes those inside its doors, but also has outreach to the local and global community. But what about us as individuals? What's our responsibility? At some point, we have to be the welcomers. You could sign up for a welcome role because you know how much it means TO be welcomed! I sometimes find if I'm in a role of welcoming, then it's easier for my brain to feel comfortable and gives me that shot of confidence that it's okay to be a little more outgoing than I normally might feel comfortable being. This is a great way to begin making those relationships within the church. Learning to serve in the church plugs us into getting to know others - the ones we're doing the serving alongside, and the ones we're ministering to as they walk into the room. If you attend a church and you are not serving or welcoming in some way, consider signing on the line this week. You are needed.

Welcoming outside the church is obviously just as important. Loving our neighbors is a command we should all be following. (First step: Stop being rude to restaurant/retail workers!) Knowing the why helps give us courage, love, welcome, and empathy. The fruit of the Spirit stands out so opposite of the world today, add some peace, joy, love, gentleness, to your interactions and be a light. Loads of articles have been written about the breakdown of community, so imagine the shock when you show a little? I took a loaf of bread to a neighbor last fall and she still talks about what a wonderful gift it was. It was me wanting to love because I have been loved.

Learning to Know What Matters: Ultimately most of what we "judge" a service or church about does not matter.




Composing a pithy comment to the pastor about the too loud music is not a beneficial way to spend the service during the preaching of the Word. If you're really bothered by an aspect of a service, ask someone on staff about the why (not on a Sunday). Why does our church do such and such this way? Don't assume, don't question the spirituality of the person doing the thing, don't listen to a third party explanation of it in the middle of a busy restaurant hosting a live band (I speak from experience), and don't jump to conclusions. Ask why. In a healthy church, asking why won't be seen as a sin, questioning of God or an offensive question.

On the flip side of what does and does not matter: Theology does! (In addition, theology should drive the church's why, so knowing what they believe is helpful). For years I've had a list in the back of my Bible on "basic church orthodoxy." These are issues that if they are not being preached means the church is not a Christian church and we're no longer speaking about the same thing. Call me a nerd, but I wrote this up for my own kids (young adult age) recently as an exercise in "what are basic Christian beliefs." This exercise helped me think through and re-center my priorities. (When you visit a new church, most list their doctrinal statements on their website. No, I don't think it's weird or bad to look this up when making your church decision. It's like checking the nutritional label on your favorite snack-kinda?Will this be healthy if I eat it?)

Learning the Word of God: Find good preaching, encourage the pastor by showing up, by implementing the teaching into your life as you grow and by serving. Knowing the Scriptures helps us know who God is and knowing who God is helps us stand firm in the faith in the midst of a troubled world. If you are not being taught the Word, find another church. If you are not being encouraged to read the Bible on your own and that it's okay to ask questions, this is wrong, find somewhere that will encourage learning, reading and growing in truth. Gather in community to study it, and to pray together about implementing it into your lives. Learn it, practice it and teach it. (Ezra 7:10)

The Church is the body of Christ "which he obtained with his own blood" (Acts 20:28). If this is not why enough for you to show up, then what would be?


Citation: Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert, What Is the Mission of the Church? Making Sense of Social Justice, Shalom, and the Great Commission (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2001).


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