By: Rev. David Wilson Rogers
The preacher looked out over her congregation and asked a very straightforward question, “Why are you here?” She then went on to say that, it appeared that many in the church were not there for the right reasons.
There are many good reasons why a person would choose to attend a church. Unfortunately, many faithful church-goers do not have good reasons. Rather, they attend this or that church for purely sinful and idolatrous motives.
“I go to my church because that’s where I get fed.” This seems like a good reason for church attendance until one considers the reality it involves a horrible sin of narcissistic idolatry. The danger with this mind set is that people treat the church like a supermarket or popular fast food chain—get what they want without spending a lot and enjoy instant gratification while the staff caters to what they want. Going to church just to get fed is consumer Christianity at its worst. After all, if the customer is always right, that pretty much makes God frequently wrong.
“I go to my church because I like the preacher.” We preachers do like to hear this one, but we also faithfully recognize that it is a dangerous reality. We are all nothing more than broken vessels that that do our best to point people into a relationship with Christ. The danger of this approach is that people can confuse a relationship with the pastor for a relationship with Christ, and the pastor will always let them down.
“I go to my church because of this or that program.” Programs are nice, but they can never be a substitute for serving God and having a genuine relationship with God in the community of the church. The problem with programs is that they can become self-serving and miss the whole point of faith in Jesus Christ. No matter how much we like to place stock in cherished church programs, we must all remember it is Christ that saves, not a program and that God calls to serve in Christ’s name, not simply connect to a program.
“I go to my church because I like the way we worship.” There are many different ways to worship God in spirit and in truth. Yet when the particular style of worship, the songs sung, or specific attributes of the order of worship overshadow the God they are supposed to proclaim, it is idol worship, not holy worship. That does not negate the importance of finding a worship style and practice that helps one connect to God. There are different worship styles because people connect with God in different ways. The important factor is that worship must remain a vital tool for serving God, not the reason one attends a particular church.
It is not wrong to be fed, enjoy quality ministerial leadership, participate in meaningful programs and worship in a way that is true to the person that God created you to be. There are tremendous benefits from worshiping God. They are given loving gifts by God for the people of God to fully enjoy and to enhance life in God.
For the Christian, however, a matter of priority must never be overlooked. If we are not seeking out God and God’s Kingdom FIRST, then we are probably going to church for all the wrong reasons. Think of how many petty church fights and ridiculous conflict would be avoided if church-going Christians truly placed God first rather than clinging to the idolatrous traditions, expectations and customs of the local congregation. So, why do you go to your church?