Attendance at church is in decline in Canada, and so too it seems are the number of people who identify themselves as Christians. Yet it feels like there is one statistic that is up; the number of people who would call themselves Christians yet not bother with church. In my travels I sometimes hear things like “I don’t need to go to church to be a Christian,” or “I don’t need to go to church to worship God.” So why bother with church? Here are some reasons:
- We do the church thing because the Bible tells us to. “And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25 NRSV). Rules and guilt have fallen on hard times in many parts of the church today, but these verses were written for a reason!
- We do the church thing because the early church did the church thing. They came to Christ, then they came together. This sets the standard for us to live up to today.
- We do the church thing because we are the Church. Notice Hebrews 10:25 does not say “not neglecting to go to church”? The early Christians did not go to church, they had a keen sense that they were the church, and it was natural therefore to gather in their shared family identity.
- We do the church thing because it helps us participate and develop in five key areas.
- We gather to seek God’s glory
- We gather to confess Jesus as Lord
- We gather to become more like Christ
- We gather to experience family in the Body of Christ
- We gather to serve and love the world beyond ourselves
We will be looking at these five areas, which readers of Rick Warren’s “Purpose Driven Church” will sort of recognize, in the weeks ahead, so stay tuned . . . or get to church!