A couple of weeks ago, I was visiting with some Christians who were complaining about their respective worship services. After listening for a while, I asked them this question. “Why do we go to church?”
It took me a while to muster up that question because I hate that terminology. The simple fact is, we don’t GO to church. We ARE the church. Wherever we gather as the Body of Christ, that’s where you’ll find the church.
I didn’t want to sidetrack my point with a theological discussion of what constitutes the church, so I simply asked the question. I knew everyone would understand what I meant since that’s the way we always phrase it. “Why do we go to church?”
My Lovely Bride
Knowing I’m a retired pastor, everyone got quiet and just stared at me for a few seconds. My lovely Bride was present, however, and saved the moment. She’s never intimidated by me at any level, so she shot back at me, “Okay, Pastor. Why do we go to church?”
I quietly said, “We should go to church to worship.” Everyone knew immediately what I was driving at and the conversation quickly dwindled. We all want to worship, but we want to worship in our own way. Our real problem is with “corporate worship.” When a bunch of us get together to worship corporately, it gets harder and harder to please everyone. If we try hard enough, we eventually don’t please anyone (except God, I hope).
Since the conversation fizzled out that night, let me flesh out my own answer. We go to church to worship. We don’t go to hear a concert. We don’t go for a pep talk. We don’t go to show off our newest clothing or teach our kids how to be nice. If we expect the worship service to be exactly what we want it to be, we’ll be sorely disappointed—sooner rather than later.
A Disparate People
The body of Christ is made up of disparate and varying kinds of people. They’re all on their own journeys through this life as they attempt to be discipled in the ways of Jesus. They all have differing desires, attitudes, and preferences. When they gather together, it’s simply to be with someone of like mind (meaning, people who want to love and follow Jesus). If you’re a part of the body of Christ, you’ll want to worship in conjunction with a group of believers—a community, to be more exact.
Our problem is that we want to walk into a worship service, be entertained, hear a great sermon, interact with as few people as we can, and leave. If you’re one of those people, I suggest you turn on your computer every Sunday morning and find a podcast of a worship service. If you splice a few together, you might get the perfect one.
Simply put, we “go to church” to be with other people who want to worship too. They’re just as flawed as us. Let’s try to remember that.
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]