I’m convinced. I’ve fought it. I really have. But today I’m convinced there is no good reason for me and my family to go to church. None.
My church keeps me informed about opportunities to meet needs in my community.
I can get the same info from the newspaper, talking to neighbors and friends in the community, being pro-active.
My church has a guy who speaks about God. He’s called the pastor and I like him a lot.
I can read books about God, download podcasts of other guys talking about God, or better yet, actually have a dialogue – one of those two-way discussion things – about God with my neighbors and friends. This is assuming of course that what’s missing in my spirit and life is more information.
My church has a guy who has us sing Tomlin songs with him for twenty minutes on Sunday mornings. He’s called the worship pastor and I like him a lot.
I can sing along to my favorite CD, or pull out my guitar and sing a tune, and I can do this with a group of friends and neighbors if I want to and the great thing is I can also NOT do this if I want to – a choice the worship pastor never talks about because it would put him out of a job.
My church has folding chairs.
I have folding chairs made for indoor and outdoor use.
My church has a television screen and sometimes shows short movies that make me think and feel stuff.
I have a television and can rent movies that make me think and feel stuff.
My church has a small troup of “actors” who do dramas for us sometimes.
Church dramas suck.
My church doesn’t let me ask questions or hear what other people think about things.
My front yard does.
My church has a time, it lasts as long as the chorus of a Tomlin song, where we “get to know” each other.
When the kids go to bed Redneck Neighbor and his wife sometimes bring their lawn chairs over and we “get to know” each other. That time usually lasts a few hours. Same thing happens almost every afternoon in Brian‘s front yard.
My church teaches my kids about God, what He’s like, how they’re supposed to treat their mommy and daddy and other kids, and they make friends.
We learn stuff about God at home, numerous times a day. And my kids have more friends than they’re allowed to invite to a birthday party at the skating rink already. That’s a lot.
My church receives about twenty percent of my income. They use that money to pay rent, pay the worship pastor and pastor, buy grape juice and tiny square breads, sustain their food pantry and support missionaries and other good folks doing great things in our town and around the world.
Good folks doing great things in our town and around the world also take personal checks. My resources would go farther without the middle man.
My church let’s me sit beside Redneck Neighbor and his wife and other members of the cult-de-sac for an hour or so every Sunday, during which time we say very little to each other and mostly just sit and listen.
Then we go home and loan each other lawn mowers, ask for marriage and career advice, talk about sex and money and football (I don’t, but it happens), and we fix each others’ stuff and make fun of each other and wonder out loud why we go to church.
And I don’t know anymore.
I know the biblical reasons why communities of Christians are supposed to exist – there are four main ones I was taught in school:
To equip the saints (learn stuff about God and about following God in every area of life and thought)
To witness to the world (model God’s love and other divine attributes together in ways we can’t alone so that when those who don’t believe what we believe see our community they see at the same time what God is like)
To worship as a group (biblically this is less about singing and more about telling our stories to each other of the goodness of God, praying together, silence together, communion together, eating together, sharing together, working together)
To help those in need (fixing whatever is broken together in ways we can’t alone, pooling our skills and resources and brains to solve problems and meet needs everywhere starting within our community).
What I also know from going to a hundred churches a year and having been on church staff five times is that church (as most of us in America know it) doesn’t do any of these things as well, as swiftly and effectively as a cul-de-sac without tax exempt status can.
Pastors, in light of all this confession, explain to me why I should go to your church. And then please stick around and talk to us if we have questions about your reasons.