Last Saturday night we had people over for dessert and coffee. We were chatting about our plans for Sunday. When I said we would be going to church one of our guests asked, “Why do you go to church?” It was a good question and the next day at church I thought about it. I came up with five reasons why I go to church.
1. I like books. I am our church’s librarian and I also maintain our church’s Little Free Library where people in our neighborhood can help themselves to books or donate them. My library involvement at church gives me the opportunity to chat enthusiastically with so many people each week about books and reading. I love that.
2. I like music. Our church has some incredibly gifted musicians and I love listening to them. On Sunday morning, I get to sing with lots of other people. Many of them grew up in the Mennonite church as I did, and we have a strong choral tradition. For us singing in rich four-part harmony is second nature. At church, I get to hear and participate in great music-making.
3. I like helping others. Our church has a daycare, a children’s after school club, a mother’s support group, a reading tutor program, a senior’s residence, services for immigrants and a food bank. My church donations help support that work. Along with a group of women from our church I volunteer at a Thrift Store that recycles thousands of items each year with the proceeds going to help aid programs around the world. I feel better about myself when I know I am using some of my time and money to help others and my church facilitates that for me.
4. I like to feel hopeful. Often on Sunday mornings the things I hear at church help me to feel more hopeful about the state of our world. Last Sunday, for example, our pastor talked about the horror of the mass shootings in the United States but then he reminded us that even the smallest actions on our part can make a difference in the world. Sharing our love with others, and being committed to the way of peace Jesus taught us, can bring about change in our troubled world. His words inspired hope.
5. I like time to be peaceful and quiet. It is hard sometimes to find space in my week to just think and pray and be silent. In church, I am not on my computer or looking at my phone. Our church is a beautiful place with stained glass windows and thoughtful art pieces. It gives me the opportunity to be still and take a deep breath and rest my mind and heart before the busy week ahead.
Since last Sunday I have thought of even more reasons why I go to church.
- I have a chance to meet and visit with interesting people.
- My husband and I have made many life long friends at the different churches we have attended.
- The church has provided my family with tangible support during some difficult times.
- The church has given us a moral compass when we have needed to make decisions.
- The church has sometimes been a place for me to question, rethink and reshape my world view.
- The church has played a role in helping us mark important occasions in our family life- weddings, funerals, child dedications, and baptisms.
- The church is a place where I feel connected to something greater than myself, to the spirit of God, the creative force, the human family.
- The church gives me a bridge to the past. I am of Mennonite heritage and the church has been intertwined and entangled with the history and culture of my family for many, many generations.
I’m glad my guest last Saturday asked me why I go to church. I couldn’t think of all these ideas right at the moment but maybe he will read this and his question will be answered.
Why do you go to church? Or why don’t you?