A church is supposed to be a gathering of Christians who meet together to worship God and serve others. Simple, right?
However, some churches have become cluttered, whether with hymnals and wooden pews or electric guitars and cinema-style padded chairs. The Christian faith is sometimes eclipsed by the traditions and cultures of its churches.
Another kind of clutter is the idea that churches are independent. There isn’t often much communication or cooperation between churches, even though they belong to the same God. We think of different churches as separate entities, not as parts of a single entity.
Worst, I think, is that churches are cluttered with prejudices. We Christians have a tendency to make two deadly mistakes: believing our opinions are infallible, and assuming anyone who disagrees must be a misguided sinner. I’m ashamed to say it, but Christians are often rude in God’s name.
There are so many empty traditions, so many dogmatic views, so many petty squabbles—to wit, so many kinds of clutter—filling churches everywhere that we can’t help but ask a question.
Is church worth it?
Yes, yes it is.
We can start by not giving up. I know people who have stopped going to church. They avoid the clutter, true, but they also miss the glorious blessings churches have to offer.
The Christian faith isn’t something we can live out individually. When we call God our Father, we acknowledge being part of a family—and we don’t get to choose our siblings, biological or spiritual.
Right from the beginning, Christians stuck together. Christ himself had disciples. After Christ’s departure from Earth, his disciples became a community.
Church gives us the opportunity to encourage each other, worship God together, serve our communities and learn from other believers.
We can choose not to lose sight of the big picture. In the midst of the details—the youth ministry events, the Wednesday Bible studies, the rehearsals for Sunday morning worship—we can remember why we do these things.
To repeat an invaluable lesson, we must understand the why of Christian living as we live out the how.
It’s important to recognize church as a community—not a social club, but a family. Some of my favorite congregations have met in houses, banquet halls and indoor soccer stadiums. There were no hymnals, no fog machines and hardly any formal programs. Members gathered simply to worship God and to encourage each other. It was awesome.
Being part of a community takes time, effort and patience. Church isn’t always what we want it to be. Sermons can be boring. Worship songs can be unbearably silly. Other Christians can be irritating.
However, church is sometimes even better than what we want it to be. Sermons can be useful. Worship songs can be beautiful. Other Christians can be loving, hospitable and kind.
In the end, church is worth it.