Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Why Go to Church? Part 2

This is a continuance of an earlier post having to do with attending worship. Many people, who claim to be people of faith, don’t regularly attend worship services. In doing so, they are missing out on the blessings God has for them through worship. Some of the material in this post is based on the book Five Practices of Fruitful Living by Robert Schnase (© 2010 Robert Schnase, Abingdon Press, Nashville). Schnase is a United Methodist bishop in the Missouri Episcopal area. While this post is directed at Christians I believe the principles apply to all religions.

VI. Hindrances to Worship

Lastly, we should be aware of the forces at work trying to keep us and others from coming to church regularly or at all. We should understand these because when you invite someone to church, one or more of these hindrances will be at work in the person.

●Sometimes it’s just inertia: you haven’t been to church for a while and you are in a completely different behavior pattern for Sunday mornings.

●Sometimes it’s apathy: you see no value to coming to church. Church is irrelevant, boring, torture, and all the people are hypocrites. Plus “All they want is my money” and “I hated church as a kid.”

●Most commonly there are competing obligations, habits, and interests such as kids’ sporting events scheduled for Sunday morning. Coaches have leverage that the pastor doesn’t have: you miss a practice or a game on Sunday morning, and you’re off the team, or won’t play in the next game.

●Sometimes you have to overcome ridicule or criticism from a spouse, other family members, or friends.

●Sometimes it’s just a matter of weak faith that results in not being willing to make the necessary sacrifices to come to worship.

●Sometimes people let the great mysteries of life hold them back, such as why is there evil in the world. As a result, they don’t want to worship a God – if he even exists – who allows bad things to happen.

These shouldn’t hinder us from asking a person to church, but we should be ready to address some of these issues. Often if you can explain “what’s in it for them” (and their children), you might get their interest and they might just show up.

VII. Conclusion

At school functions the Pledge of Allegiance is often recited. At sporting events we hear the national anthem played or sung. They are affirmations of our love for our country. The church is unique in that we engage in worship, which goes well beyond affirmations, and expresses our love and appreciation of God.

A worshipping church is a society within a society, a nation within a nation, and a people within a people. As people of faith we have a God-given role to play, which is to worship God, do God’s work on earth, and be a godly example to the rest of the world. We are to attract people so they can learn of the grace of God, find rest for their souls, and become people of faith themselves.

However, at the same time we have our own challenges, which might make it difficult for us to get up and come to worship on a Sunday morning. We grieve, mourn, and suffer because life on earth isn’t always pleasant, and we aren’t immune from these difficulties that are common to everyone. But we have something that helps us get through it all – worship. Worship renews our strength, reminds us that we belong to God and the community of faith, and that things will be better when we go on to glory.

So when life gets you down, come to the worship service even if that’s the last thing you feel like doing, because you will be renewed. These words of the prophet Isaiah describe what can happen to us in worship (Isaiah 40:29-31):
[God] gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint
. (NIV)

That renewal comes when we are in worship and focused on God. So let’s soar like eagles as we are spiritually refreshed and renewed.

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