Week in and week out we watch people come to worship services with low expectations which are fulfilled. Prayer concerns become a way to peer into the private lives of our neighbors. Printed liturgy becomes the repository for 5 syllable words. During the passing of the peace greeting time the newcomer hears an obligatory “peace of God be with you,” from a pew sitter nearby who has no intention of following up this brief exchange with a real conversation after the service. Insider hymns are sung and special music becomes a performance rather than an offering to God. No lives are changed, no new disciples of Jesus Christ are made, and no one takes seriously the possibility of transforming the world. We wonder why the people come. We wonder what keeps them coming back week after week. We wonder what is the point? I opened up a article entitled “Why I go to Church.” It was published in a well respected, theological journal. Rather than find some compelling reason for habitual attendance in worship it began with a reference from Lovett Weems who points out that “the definition of a regular attendee has changed from someone who is there almost every Sunday to one who attends perhaps only two Sundays out of the month.” People are busy. There are so many competing activities scheduled for Sunday morning; read the paper, coffee at Starbucks, jogging to stay fit, kid’s athletic events, and simple family time. The author got to a list of reasons soon enough. 1. I go first of all to meet God, to be in God’s presence (this is a good start) 2. I also go to make connection with other people who share many of my foundational convictions and commitments 3. I go to find meaning in life, to be a part of something bigger than myself 4. I go for the music 5. I go to sing The author summarizes “There are two necessary things in life,” James Luther Adams said, “a sense of ultimacy and a sense of intimacy.”
Then the article ended. I couldn’t believe it. The author is a self identified Christian. Eight Hundred words on “Why I go to Church” and not one word about Jesus Christ. Maybe we have lost touch with the purpose of our Christian church.