Last week I discussed people who claim to believe in God, but, as they put it, don’t “do church.”
There are many important reasons why people who believe in God ought to do church, that is, become a member of a local Christian community and attend the services or Masses on a regular basis. I mentioned some of these reasons last week.
However, I fully understand there are many arguments against going to church. Here are just a few:
- Church is boring. They say and do the same things over and over again.
- They’re always asking for money.
- The parking lot is too crowded, and some people practically run you over trying to leave in a hurry.
- Many people at church aren’t very friendly.
- The music is poor, and the singing even worse.
- They’re all a bunch of hypocrites, pretending they’re so holy in church but mean and nasty once they go home.
- The people at church are really judgmental.
And then there is the biggest complaint of all about going to church: “I don’t get anything out of it.”
I’m tempted to rebut each of these arguments, but instead let me say this: they are all true. Each and every one of these statements is correct at certain times and in certain places. I hate to say it, but it’s a fact. Church can be boring. They do ask for money a lot. The parking lot is a mess. Many people are not friendly. The music ministry often sounds like the River City Elementary School Beginners Band. People are hypocritical. And they are judgmental.
Do you know why I can acknowledge that these things are true? It’s simple. Our churches are full of sinners. One of the core doctrines of Christianity comes right from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23).
It says ALL have sinned, not just some. (Or if you live down south, it says: “All y’all have sinned…”)
The main problem with church is churchgoers. But that’s true for every human institution, organization, and family group throughout the history of the world. As soon as you add human beings to the mix, you are certain to have trouble. That’s what we humans do best: cause trouble. It’s because of our sinful nature.
So, you’re not going to hear me try to rebut those arguments about church. They’re all true. But I will comment on that final complaint listed earlier about going to church, the one where people often claim that they don’t get anything out of church.
The fact is, we’re not supposed to get something out of church; we’re suppose to put something into church. If a person approaches church attendance with the attitude, “What am I going to get out of this?” he or she always will be disappointed.
But if a person approaches church with the attitude, “What can I bring to this service/Mass? What praise and worship can I offer to the Lord God who created me?” then he or she will discover that church attendance is invigorating and uplifting—despite all the sinful people there.
It is a remarkable Christian paradox: only when we stop focusing on getting something out of church and instead focus on putting something in, will we actually get something out of it.
So, despite all those arguments about church being boring, unfriendly, hypocritical, judgmental, etc.—which are all true—the bottom line is: we still should do church anyway, because it’s our only opportunity to worship God as a community of believers.
Nothing is perfect in this fallen world—even and especially church. But despite that, we still need to do church. It’s what our Creator God wants for us.