Meanderings of a Minister

Why Do You Go to Church?
July 28, 2016, 4:07 pm
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Okay.  I know I have asked this question in an article before.  But as I was reading in Nehemiah this week, I came across a curious situation I had not noted before.  In Nehemiah 11, time has passed and the city of Jerusalem is not being populated by the returnees from captivity.  The leaders of the people came up with a system for inhabiting David’s capitol city.  They would cast lots and one out of every ten persons would be chosen and would have to move into Jerusalem from the surrounding areas.  Immediately after this verse (11:1) is a short verse that almost goes overlooked.

“And the people blessed all the men who volunteered to live in Jerusalem.” (Nehemiah 11:2)

I found this very interesting.  There were some people who were basically drafted to live in Jerusalem and then there were others who volunteered.  The people praised those who volunteered.

As I thought about this situation, it dawned on me that many people go to church, give to church, and serve at church for a variety of reasons as well.  For some, they feel like they have been drafted and don’t have a choice.  Having pastored small churches all my life, I know what this looks like and feel like.  There are some programs that we feel each church should have (Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, Worship, Nursery, etc.) and in the smaller church, someone has to step up and take on this role.  Now, there are some who feel called to this ministry while others do it because “someone has to” or they are drafted.  If they don’t, then the ministry will suffer and no one wants to see the church suffer.

Even in the not-so-small church, this dynamic can be at play.  Some people serve because they feel a divine calling to use the gifts and talents God has given them to serve in that capacity.  Others serve because they feel guilty or hope that if they do enough, they will be accepted by the leadership of the church, or so they can feel like they are pulling their weight.  Still others serve because they feel it gives them the right to control how that ministry performs for their children or interests.  Motivations can be a many splendored thing.

So…why do you go to church?  Why do you serve in church?  Why do you do what you do for God?  Do you do so because you are grateful to God for all He has done for you?  Do you feel this so deeply because, like the woman who washed Jesus’ feet, you know how much you have been forgiven?  Do you serve at church because you don’t want to let someone down?  Do you serve because you feel an obligation to do so out of guilt or out of hoping to earn God’s favor?

I guess I must back up a bit.  I might have gotten ahead of myself.  Perhaps I should have started with asking the question, do you go to church?  For even many who call themselves followers of Jesus Christ do not attend church with any regularity and the idea of actually committing to one church family and serving in a vital ministry would cut into their free time and their ability to pursue money, pleasure, vacation, status, etc.  Even though they know that scripture commands us to assemble together (see Hebrews 10:24-25 and all the “one another” passages of the Bible), they still have no time for church or they let their feelings of being hurt or let down by a church rule over their faithfulness to the One Who died for them. While I do not intend to minimize the way some churches hurt people or let them down, I also know this should not determine our faithfulness to the One Who took our beating, or scorn, our shame, and our death and separation from God.  We must continue to meet together, grow, serve, love, and forgive.

So…why do you go to church (or not go)?  Why do you serve (or not serve)?  Why do you give (or not give)?


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