Why go to church?

Even regular Christian worshippers ask themselves that too regularly. Other Sabbath-day worshippers do, too. Sociologists of religion now define regular as once a month attendance. (Pretty sure God doesn’t.)

A former church member told me the question she poses weekly: “I ask myself when I get up on a Sunday morning: Is it worth putting pantyhose on for?” She wasn’t as regular as she was honest, but she is all too typical.

Software mogul, Bill Gates, doesn’t attend church because he thinks it’s an inefficient use of time.

True. Worship is precisely, in the words of writer Marva Dawn, “a royal waste of time.” Spending time with God is like child’s play, or like spending time with a lover – wonderfully inefficient!

A friend confessed to me that one Sunday morning recently he rose and dressed for early worship before his family awoke. He didn’t think they were in a hurry to join him, so he left them in bed. On his way out the alley, he was stopped by the thought that that was the Sunday the pastor would be out of the pulpit, suffering for Jesus in mountain retreat (read gone on the men’s church ski trip to Colorado). So he turned the car around, pulled back into the garage, peeled off his clothes, and then was stopped by another thought.

“Is that the only reason you go to church, Tom (name protected), to hear the pastor preach?”

Conscience pricked – he dressed again and headed to worship. Self-talk continued en route: “Why do you go to church anyway, Tom?”

Three conclusions reached by the time he pulled into the parking lot. One, yes, because he likes the preaching of his friend, George. (I put that first for selfish reason. Sorry.) Two, because God deserves his worship and attention, given what God has done for him. And three, because he needs to be there in order for God to shape him in whatever ways God thinks he needs shaping.

I would add a fourth: Other people need us to worship with them. Just as sopranos need altos and organs need pipes, pews need peopling.

Postscript to the story – Tom got the dates wrong. He smiled to himself and gave God a nod as he cushioned down, seeing me on the chancel after all. Surprises may come when you come!

Let us not be lax in worship regularity.