“Why Go to Church?”
As a pastor, I know firsthand the power of community and the benefits of encouraging one another on our spiritual journeys. With the scandals and insensitivity of so many churches, you may wonder why go to church? The church is a source of nourishment where we may interact with others looking for spiritual truth and learn how to improve as individuals, not merely a place to hear sermons and sing songs.
While being “spiritual but not religious” can offer some benefits, it can also lack the sense of community, guidance, and growth opportunities often found in participating in a church community. The Rev. Lillian Daniel wrote an excellent article about how she needs more than catching a sunset once in a while to meet her spiritual needs.
We Go to Church to Connect to Something Powerful Outside of Ourselves
It’s tempting to act as if we are the center of the universe. Our problems can feel overwhelming and we miss the resources available to help. Being intentional about growing the spiritual dimension of our lives widens our perspective and plugs us into a power greater than ourselves.
William Sloan Coffin, the great former Yale Chaplain, famously said,
It is often said that the Church is a crutch. Of course, it’s a crutch. What makes you think you don’t limp?”
Attending church regularly can help you build a discipline where you unplug from the frenetic activities that govern our lives. We have the chance to reflect and pray so that we can connect with God and nurture the spiritual aspect of our lives.
We Go to Church to Church for a Sense of Belonging and to Find Support
One of the primary benefits of going to church is for the sense of belonging it provides. In a world where it is easy to “cocoon,” it can be easy to feel isolated and disconnected from others. Church is a place where we can experience a sense of belonging and connection with others who seek a spiritual connection.
Churches like Bay Shore Church welcome all people regardless of their background, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, or socioeconomic status. It is a place of love, acceptance, and support. We are all seeking a place to belong and make an impact.
Church is a place where we can build relationships and find support in times of need. You never know what the world is going to do to you. Church provides a built-in support system of people who genuinely care about you and will support you through hard times. It’s reassuring to know that you have people who care, people who will pray for you, bring you meals if you need it, and accept you without judgment.
Experience Personal Growth and Increase Faith
Church provides a space to learn more about our beliefs, deepen our understanding of scripture, and reflect on how our faith can guide us daily. The church provides many spiritual growth and development opportunities through worship, sermons, Bible studies, or small groups. In these settings, we can hear new information and different perspectives that may spark something within us that leads to growth.
Going to church connects us to the wisdom of previous generations that has been passed down through thousands of years. We don’t have to make up everything on our own. Learning from the experience of others gives us a chance to put things in proper perspective and shows us pathways to lead the kind of life that makes a difference.
Make a Positive Impact on the World
In addition to personal growth, attending church can also be an opportunity to positively impact the world. Church can provide a sense of meaning and purpose in life as we realize we have a part to play in God’s efforts to make the world more user-friendly.
One of the best ways to combat the doldrums is to do something for someone else. Progressive churches have outreach programs and mission opportunities that allow us to serve others and make a difference in our communities.
Sometimes your presence in church can help someone else in ways you’d never expect. A man struggling with an addiction told me that he made a point of going to church on some of the most challenging days. He said that one of the things that helped him was knowing that a woman who sat in his pew would always greet him with a smile and sign her name on the register. Because of how she treated him, he could find the strength to persevere. He said, “You never know how just being there can help someone else.”
We Go to Church to Church for the Psychological Benefits it Provides
Numerous studies validate the psychological benefits of church membership. A recent article in the Washington Post cited statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ American Time Use Survey. The survey indicated that the “happiest, least stressful” activity was participating in “religious and spiritual activities.” The survey revealed that people reported that the happiest place on earth that provides a sense of meaning is church. Church delivers happiness better than Disneyland!
Other documented benefits of attending church include:
- Increased sense of purpose and meaning in life.
- Greater emotional and social support.
- Increased feelings of belonging and community.
- Reduced feelings of loneliness and isolation.
- Improved mental and emotional well-being.
- Increased feelings of hope and optimism.
- Reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety.
- Increased resilience and ability to cope with stress.
- Improved physical health outcomes.
- Increased life satisfaction and overall well-being.
In other words, attending church involves more than merely showing up for Sunday morning services. It’s about developing our spirituality, finding a place in the world, and feeling a sense of belonging. I invite you to find a church that will challenge you and bring all the blessings that come from participating.
Click here to find out more about Bay Shore Church.