Why Do People Go To Church?

Recently, a friend of mine who has just planted a new church in our area went on Facebook and asked this question: Why do people go to church? It got me to thinking. Why DO people go to church? If you go to church, do you know why? Have you ever asked yourself that question? If you don’t go to church, what are the main reasons you don’t go? I think these are important questions that not only need to be asked, but also need to be answered. 
Let’s start with the first question. Why do people go to church? I wish I could say it’s for all the right reasons, all the reasons that scripture teaches us. But sadly, over the centuries, going to church has taken on a variety of meanings, especially here in America that are somewhat less than biblical. Without trying to be judgmental, I have talked to hundreds of churchgoers over the years, and here’s what I’ve found. I believe some really do see their church as the local expression of the body of Christ and attend church because they know they need to go. They need to go to experience corporate worship and encounter a living God, to hear biblical preaching and teaching, to have face to face fellowship with other Christ followers, to be encouraged and challenged in their faith and their walk with God, and to hear what God may be saying to them personally. In my view, those are all legitimate reasons to go to church. But I also know people who attend church for not so biblical reasons. Some go just because it’s Sunday and that’s what you do on Sunday. Some go because they think God will love them just a little bit more if they are faithful churchgoers. Some go so they can chalk up a good deed that they think will help them get to heaven. (Spoiler alert: IT WON’T!) Some go to network with people from the community in order to help their business opportunities. There are always those young people and/or single people who go to find a mate, or even a date. And of course, there are some who go because mom and/or dad make them go. Now, you may counter by saying, “At least they’re going to church!” And yes, they are going, but is it doing them any good? I would argue that for the most part, if your heart isn’t in the right place, then you’re not going to benefit much from going.
Now, for all you non-churchgoers, let’s talk about why you DON’T go to church. I have heard a variety of reasons that people give for not going to church. Here are my top six. 1. “I don’t believe in God so why waste my time.” 2. “All the church wants is my money. They don’t really care about me.” 3. “Church is filled with hypocrites and I don’t want to have anything to do with them.” 4. “All churches do is fight and split and I don’t need more drama in my life.” 5. “The church is not relevant to current events and just doesn’t pertain to my life.” 6. “All the church does is judge people who are not like them. They really don’t love people like Jesus said they should.” Do any of these reasons hit home with you? Sadly, I have to be honest and admit that some of these statements are true. We Christians have not done a very good job over the years of looking and acting like a New Testament church. The sad truth is, many churches do fight among themselves, they do judge people who are different than them, they do spend too much time raising money for bigger and better buildings. But I also want to go on record to say that there really are churches around that truly care about people and care about bringing God glory in all they do. No, they are not perfect, but they are on a spiritual journey of trying to be the church that God has called them to be. My friend’s new church plant is like that. And so is the church I pastor. And there are many others on that same journey. But you have to look for them.
In closing, let me challenge you today. First, for you churchgoers, examine why you go to church and see if some of your motives may need to be redirected or readjusted. Ask God to reveal to you things that will make your church experience a deeper, more meaningful help to your life. And for you non-churchgoers, can I challenge you to start visiting churches in your area and see if God might lead you to one that is actually being a New Testament, biblical body of believers. Who knows, it may just change your life!
God bless,
Pastor Jim