Why go to Church?

Czech Republic Chapel / Wikimedia User Prazak

My husband hates Sundays because he thinks of work all that day. It ruins one of his two days off. He loves Holiday weekends, like this last one, because that extra day jars him out of his typical schedule and this allows him to be “big picture.” Thinking of things from a high-up perspective rejuvenates and inspires him. It’s a drink of water at the end of an often arid week of details.

Church on Sunday is an opportunity for even the most practical among us to reflect on the big picture. Now, you might tell me you can, instead, take a walk in the woods, meditate, go running, read your bible in bed, or discuss life’s purpose over breakfast with your spouse. But church, in addition to serving as a place to reflect on the meaning of our brief existence, is a communal experience.

I believe that God’s essence (spirit? purpose? definition?) is embedded in relationships with fellow human beings. And not just the ones you hand pick to enter your life.

So here is a place, whose primary purpose is to bring together a group dedicated to thinking about the meaning of life (in a semi-unified way) and then exploring the ramifications that higher meaning has on day-to-day living with fellow humans.  So it not only serves as place to define and discuss ideology, but also a supportive community and testing ground of the ideology’s application.

This all seems like a good thing. Does (can) society replicate this in a secular way?


  1. Thanks for coming over and weighing in, Luke! Looking forward to the virtual horizontal covenanting. 😉

  2. Hey Rocky,

    Very excited about this blog and learning about this passion that you have. I would say I share it.

    I really like your phrase “I believe that God’s essence (spirit? purpose? definition?) is embedded in relationships with fellow human beings. And not just the ones you hand pick to enter your life.” I totally agree!

    I have learned so much from the most unlikely sources. I have found that in pastoring others, I get pastored as well. In seminary, during my time as chaplain in the hospital and now as an associate minister. It’s all about relationships!

    There’s a fancy theological term for this, we in the business call it the horizontal and vertical covenant. The vertical covenant is between us and God and affects and informs our horizontal covenant with one another. People often focus on one or the other, but both is best IMHO.

  3. I sure do *hope* I’ll be published by 2013. I made that sound like a foregone conclusion didn’t I? 😉 The power of positive thinking?

    I love your comments. Keep em coming!

  4. That’s awesome — so you’ll be published and on the shelves before the end of 2013? Can’t wait to read it.
    I hope I don’t come off as a know-it-all, bossy A**hole in these postings. I enjoy the way your mind works, so part of my thing is just for debate. BUT, I firmly believe that religion allowed power hungry despots to beat the citizens into submission. Either physically of mentally or both. We believe in God and the church because we were fed information about it when we were so small, brainwashed. I have a hard time believing that if a hermit living in a cave with no experience of the world. He has just a few books: the Bible, the Koran, Key to the Scriptures, you name it. How does he choose which one is corret? Sorry, off topic!

  5. It’s true Jamie, my post represents the ideal church — perhaps the one from a movie set in 1939 where people from the small town walk on over and have watermelon at the picnic hosted after the service. And then there is the worst of church, as you described.

    You are guilty too of representing the ideal coffee shop. I know mine is sometimes filled with fabulous thoughtful people and other times there are two vapid college kids talking about the new Dairy Queen on campus, one homeless guy, and the mailman that naps after he finishes his route early.

    I know you are thinking big picture and ideally of a world without religion. A world full of tolerance. I am a pragmatist and have never been overly optimistic. My mind rests somewhere in between the ideal and what is currently. Perhaps represented in this post by a nice Quaker meeting in upstate NY with muffins and Starbucks Via.

    And so, that paradigm of mine (misguided as it may be) guides my fiction writing (and not that you asked, my dear, I’m just throwing it out there). I aim to show the many faces of both of these realities and to show, what I feel is, an honest intersection of them in just a few people’s lives. Who “wins?” Who gets changed and why? My current protagonist is an idealist, like you, but unlike you he is guided by Christian ideals. And my secular antagonist is not an idealist, she is more like an old version of me, and she lays him low. But then what?

    Hopefully you can find out next year when you hold the book in your hot little hands. 😉

  6. I’m not sure I know if society has a direct substitution for church going, but there must be myriad groups a person can join from which they can get this same experience. In Europe where church attendance has declined significantly in the last 50 years, tolerance is actually on the rise. In Islamic based cultures and countries, the mosques are filled to overflowing, yet these countries have the highest levels of intolerance, especially towards gays and women. I think the definition and function you assign church in this posting is beautiful and idealistic. In truth, church is a place like-minded people can go so they can become more like-minded, read: small-minded, intolerant and with a sense of superiority. You want people to hang with on Sunday morning for a sense of community and for the potential of sharing ideas and even spreading love, go to a coffee house. Better atmosphere, often better music, many people of many backgrounds and stripes and, the best part, good coffee. Have you ever had a good cup of coffee at a church? That has not been my experience. Indeed, the church I grew up in only served instant, and they still expected you to make a donation to the coffee fund.

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