By Pastor Paula Lund Burchill
I had a friend ask me recently why I go to church. She is part of a church that is struggling to stay open and she wanted to know why they should continue their struggle, I think.
I hate to say it but the first thing I did was get on my high horse about how churches that don’t talk much about Jesus don’t seem to do very well. And that if a church is indistinguishable from Greenpeace or a homeless shelter or whatever other social service group, what is the point in it being a church.
My high horse needs to just buck me off! Seriously, I need to take the log out of my own eye before pointing out the speck in someone else’s.
So I’m going to try again. She asked why I go to church, so here goes.
I go to church because I need to hear that Jesus loves and forgives me. I don’t believe I’m alone in the world. I believe that God made me to be his hands and feet, but that I mess that up a lot. So I come to hear how very much I’m treasured and loved and that there is nothing I could ever do to get separated from that love and it fills me with joy. It makes me want to go into the world and try again with helping God out. Because the church exists to help others in the world through Christ.
I go to church because I like it when my kids hang out with old people. [not that there are old people at SLC….ha] We don’t live near family, and it makes me sad that in our world, it is easy to just hang out with people who are in my same age and stage of life. I like to hang out with old people, too. I love to hear from my ladies that this too shall pass, or to laugh about life and love and how there is nothing new under the sun. I love it when people give my kids a hug and say how glad they are to see them.
I go to church because I need that community. I need to sing in a group, I need to pray in a group, I need to confess my sin and confess my faith with others who I know are holding me up as I go through life. When my brother died when I was 12, there is absolutely no way our family would have survived intact if we did not have our church carrying us through. So much in life tells me that I have to make it on my own. I go to church because it reminds me that this is a big fat lie.
I go to church because God commands me to worship him and to give him the first fruits of the money he has given me. It is counter intuitive, but true that in giving we receive. And I believe that God commands us to worship and to give, in order to remind us that we aren’t in charge. I need to be reminded of that!
There are many other places I go to share my gifts—the PTA, the Athletic Boosters, the great outdoors. And I find many of the same things there that I find in church. But the PTA doesn’t forgive me or love me or remind me that I’m not in charge. Jesus does that—through his body, the church.
That is why I go to church.
How about you? Would you share?