Why Should I Go to Church?
I live in beautiful Knoxville, Tennessee. Knoxville is my hometown. After leaving her for 11 years, I'm back to the place I call home. Leaving Knoxville for a while to later return has given me a different perspective about the city. Things have changed. No matter where you've come from if you leave for some time and return, you will notice changes. Changes in development, changes in roads, changes in schools, changes in landscape. I live in an area of town called Hardin Valley. Hardin Valley didn't exist when I was a teenager. Now, it is one of the fastest growing areas in town. It always fascinates me to leave for some time and come back to see changes made, often times for the better.
There is one change that I've observed that is not good. In fact, this change I hear about from all over the country. The change is people's perspective of church. In Knox County, Tennessee, a recent study was done that said out of about 429,000 people in the County, only 17% of the people are considered Evangelical Christian. Almost 41% of people are "done" with church, meaning they are fed up with the church and leaving it. 39% of people are "nones", meaning they have no religious affiliation at all. Here's the report.
Growing up in Knoxville, it appeared that over half the people I knew from my public school to my neighborhood actively attended church. The fact that over 40% of people are now done with church means this is a recent phenomenon. Knoxville was considered part of the "Bible belt" at one time. Those times are over. We're not alone. As you look around the country, the Church is losing its ground in America all over (read the book Churchless to find out more).
There are a number of reasons why people are leaving the church. I wrote a blog post describing these reasons which you can read here. I believe at the core of it all is that people have forgotten the value of Church. They have forgotten why the Church is necessary for their lives. If you are reading this blog, let me remind you why the Church is so important for you.
The Church is a place that provides...
- Family to help you with life's struggles.
- Truth to help you with life's questions.
The Church Provides a Family to Help You with Life's Struggles
Over the years I have been a part of sports teams, business teams, political clubs, Toastmasters, I was in a Fraternity in college, and I'm serving in the military. These have all been helpful for me to learn how to work with people, and each organization/group has helped me form friendships and comraderie. However, the Church has been the consistent place for me that not only has provided friendships, but it has provided me a family. These other teams/groups I've been a part of have been helpful in many ways, but only the Church is the place that has given me a place where...
- Older men have mentored me.
- Younger and older people have invested in my kids's lives.
- Numerous people have brought my family meals after all my kids were born.
- People have helped my wife and kids when I've been out of town.
- People have prayed for me and told me they have prayed.
- People have forgiven me.
- I've shared the struggles of life.
- I've served side by side with others.
No other organization can do anything like this. Trust me. I've been a part of many, and they don't measure up to the Church. Paul describes the Church this way:
You are no longer foreigners and aliens but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household (Ephesians 2:19).
Paul uses the Greek word for household (Oikos) as metaphorical language for family (see 1 Timothy 3:15). Without the Church you will feel alienated and even like a foreigner at times. You may have friends your age, and you may have a good immediate family, but only the Church will provide you a place where you will have people of different generations, different backgrounds, and different stages in life who are all on the same mission to love Jesus and love others. The Church is special. The Church will always provide a group of people who will celebrate with you when times are good and mourn with you when times are bad (Romans 12:15). If you want something bigger than yourself, join a Church and get active with it.
In the Church you're not alone.
The Church Provides Truth to Help You with Life's Questions
Every one goes through periods where we question our existence and our purpose. We find these answers through the Church as the Church holds up the Bible. The Bible gives us the answers to life's biggest questions. The Bible also gives us answers to how we are to live this life.
Paul describes the Church as a pillar and foundation of truth. He writes to Timothy, his young mentor,
If I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God's household, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15).
Kent Hughes describes it this way:
"A foundation is essential to a building. A building is only as good as its foundation. Pillars stand upright on the foundation as columns and give the building its structure and beauty. The Church provides the solid bedrock of truth. The Church as a pillar upholds the truth."(To Guard the Deposit)
The Bible has been preserved throughout the ages. The Bible is truth. The Bible is God's Word. The Church communicates this truth. The Church stands on this truth. If you're looking for answers, you will find it in a Bible-believing, evangelical Church.
In the Church you've got answers.
You can turn on the news on any given day and see a society slowly falling apart. If people continue to leave the Church where will they turn? Who will they turn to? Who will help them through life's struggles? Who will help them with life's questions?
This country needs the Church at its best. In order for the Church to be at its best we need people to be a part of it and engage in its mission. If you're not attending a Church, I urge you to join one today. A healthy Church will make a healthy society.
For more on this, listen to my sermon here.