There are a lot of churches to choose from, a lot of ministries to give your time to and even more things to do instead of going to church on Sunday at all. Today, churches face the challenge of answer the question, “Why should I give up my time for this?”
While some may argue that this is a bad mentality to have toward the church, this is actually a great question and it’s one that every church, church member and/or church attender should be asking frequently.
After all, time is limited and precious. I don’t have time to waste on something that doesn’t meet a need that I have or that my family has. I don’t have time to spend frivolously on something that seems to have no point (unless it’s something I enjoy… I find time for that).
So, why is church worth it?
THE BASIC, RIGHT RESPONSES
Ok… so let me give you some of the basic, right responses to why church is worth it and then we’ll go from there.
- It’s Worth It For God – Created by Him, for Him, to love and serve Him. I should go to church for God.
- It’s Worth It For Family – I want my kids to have strong, biblical convictions and morality. I should go to church for my family.
- It’s Worth It For Me – I want to be a better person. I want to grow. I want to be challenged. I should go to church for me.
- It’s Worth It To Because I’m Supposed To – Social obligation, family politics, public perception and the like. There are a myriad of reasons that my going to church every week will make my life easier. Add to that the fact that I feel better about myself if I’ve gone to church . . . because I’m supposed to (or at least that’s what I was told growing up).
The list could be much longer, but these are certainly the basics.
NOT GOOD ENOUGH ANYMORE!
The problem is that these basic, right responses aren’t good enough anymore. I’m not saying that they’re not true. You should still go to church for God, your family and for yourself (the last one probably needs to go, even if it is one of the primary motivating factors for so many people). Reality is, however, that these reasons don’t seem to be enough to bring people into the church anymore.
Now, you can point to sin and the bad ole’ world as the primary catalyst, but I don’t think that would be right or fair. In fact, I might go so far as to say that this answer is lazy and unfeeling. Instead, I believe that the primary catalyst to people abandoning the church is that the church stopped asking, “Why should they give up their time for this?”
The truth is, most people are not going to start coming to church for all the right reasons. That is something that you grow into as God grows you. It’s foolish, then, for the church to sit back and wait for people to get their life and priorities straightened out so that the church will grow.
WHAT WILL MAKE THE CHURCH WORTH IT?
Assuming that many people need to grow into right motivations, assuming that the majority of people are busy, assuming that the church is competing with all that the culture has to offer and assuming that church is still the primary means by which God elects to meet the needs of His people—What should the church be doing to become “worth it?” I think it’s time to start asking that question.
Here are a few thoughts/ideas that have been kicking around in my head as the result of a number of discussions with a variety of people (churched and unchurched):
- Spend less time on useless stuff (eg. announcements that only pertain to a select group, the overabundance of music and singing, stories about nothing from the pastor, etc)?
- We can’t compete with culture. The world does it better. Stop trying to be Bono (or insert relevant musician) with your worship and stop trying to entertain as well as the SuperBowl. We have Jesus and the hope of the Gospel . . . do, teach, live that.
- Whatever you do (before, in or after a service) do it really well or don’t do it. You can only be excellent at a few things, not everything. Do what you can do really well and pray that the Lord would bless you with gifted people to fill in the blanks.
- Go on a mission to find stumbling blocks and remove them. Stumbling blocks take many shapes and sizes—that strange smell in the sanctuary/auditorium, the bad lighting, poor use of good technology, the awkward greeter who has no concept of personal space (or how to use a toothbrush, apparently).
- FOR PASTORS (and those who have the ability to speak to their pastors): All of the above, plus, have a point and a plan. If you don’t know the point of your sermon then why should they. Try to ground your sermons in reality (you know… the world that everyone else lives in).
Listen, church is worth it—at least, it should be—and if you are a church “regular” then you can make an impact in making it so. You don’t have to be big, mega or ultra to be used for God’s Kingdom and glory . . . you do have to be proactively willing.