[featured_image]Since I stopped preaching on June 11, 2006, and have been free to “go to church” or not go to “church” on Sunday, it has caused me to ask questions that I’ve asked before. The difference as I ask them this time is that I actually am open to consider answers that are not linked to the ongoing survival of my ministry. In other words, the answers aren’t influenced by my need for the church to grow and thrive so that I will continue to get paid.
This newly experienced freedom from going to church because I have to be there (because I am the pastor) has been revolutionary. I’m truly free to experience belonging to a church family in ways that I’ve failed to comprehend in the past. And of course, the question: “Why go to church if I don’t have to go?” has refreshing answers for me:
- I go to “church” (our gathering together with other believers on Sunday mornings) to authentically worship Jesus corporately (with brothers/sisters in Jesus). I love worshipping Jesus with my friends in my church family. I love being led into His presence and to give honor and praise to Him because He is worthy and holy and exalted. Sometimes I sing too loud or off-key or I clap off-rhythm (that’s what my children tell me), but worship is the expression of my heart toward the greatness of God. That’s why I want to meet together with Christians each week.
- I go to “church” (remember meaning above) to be reminded of what Jesus did on the cross to pay the penalty for my sins. Every time we gather, our prayers, our worship, the teaching, the Scriptures, celebrating the Lord’s Table and other expressions of our faith remind me of the cross and my salvation. Since Jesus came to be the atoning sacrifice for sin, gathering together and remembering the cross binds us together as believers and fills us with gratitude. Remembering the cross keeps us focused on Jesus’ mission.
- I go to “church” to learn how to better follow Jesus. Being taught from the Scriptures and hearing stories of other believers who have been transformed both encourage me in my spiritual journey. Seeing others who trust and obey and love Jesus gives me hope and inspires me to trust and obey and love Jesus more.
- I go to “church” to submit myself to Jesus and His mission in the world. I need to be shown repeatedly how I can engage with unbelievers and introduce them to faith in Jesus. Sometimes I need to be told that it’s not all about me. Being trained together as missionaries in our neighborhoods and workplaces enables us to better accomplish His mission.
- I go to “church” to encourage other Christians. I’m there to love them, pray with them, listen and care for them, bless them and even challenge them as they follow Jesus, too. I’ve seen it and experienced and I know I need it myself. Being together enables us to help each other become more like Jesus
So, why do you “go to church”?
 Please don’t be tempted to question my motivation for starting a church and being a pastor – I’m not motivated by the money. However, money does have more influence than I think that it should in determining the way we do ministry. For example, when we considered doing church in homes one weekend instead of meeting on our campus, one of the obstacles that needed to be addressed was how to collect the offering. This was not because we meet on Sundays to collect funds, but rather because we realize that to support our staff and facilities requires income. What would happen if we actually weren’t dependant on income for our church to function? That may be a topic for another blog.