Church is Weird
Church services are kind of weird, aren’t they? I mean, it’s a bunch of people who get together to sing songs. Who does that? Oh, and there’s all these people who stare at you while silently judging you for any number of reasons: your clothes, your hair, your behavior. There are more unnecessary judges at church than on America’s Got Talent. And to top it all off, the feature of this gathering is when some dull, dreary guy gives a speech from a book thousands of years old? If I wanted to be bored to death, I could just sit down and watch whatever’s on CNN.
And yet, millions of people around the world gather at worship services on a weekly basis. Have you ever wondered why this is? Are they merely mindless robots holding fast to their traditions for no other reason than simply out of habit or guilt? Are they all just hoping God will reward their good behavior by giving them something nice like gas coupons or something? Aren’t there better things to do with your time? Apparently for many, the answer is “no.”
There’s something uniquely special about being in a church sanctuary. When you’re there, you realize you are a part of something bigger and grander than yourself. There’s a certain sacredness that you can’t find anywhere else. You feel small inside the big room. You see the looming cross in the front. The words of Scripture echo off the walls with power. God is present there in a unique way. Obviously, God is present everywhere. He is with you even when you are walking the dog or exercising at the gym, but just like when the Israelites built their Temple in Jerusalem, the church sanctuary is a place where God dwells in a special way. It is a place where God speaks to us. But why do we need to hear from God?
Life is full of troubles, and we all have our fair share of them. Work stress wears us out. The kids don’t listen to us. Family conflict ensues. Words spoken that cut like knives and leave longer scars. And then there are the physical pains of life, whether it’s a new diagnosis or surgery pending or fears about what could happen to you as you age. It seems like there’s always something. And that’s just to name all the personal problems we deal with, not to mention all the chaos and conflict we see on the news every day. What are Russia and China up to these days? What’s wrong with all our American politicians? Can’t Politician X see how ridiculous he’s being? We feel helpless to do anything to mitigate many of the major problems our country faces. It seems there’s more critics than ever who point to more problems than ever, and no one ever has sufficient solutions. And this doesn’t even include all the bad news we see as we scroll through Facebook and Twitter. It all easily increases our anxiety.
Maybe we could use some good news more regularly.
There have been various studies done regarding how church attendance effects one’s health. Study after study have concluded similar results. Religious service attendance is associated with greater longevity, less depression and suicide, less substance abuse, more civic involvement, as well as better recovery times for cancer and heart-related diseases. A recent study conducted by members of Harvard University revealed that deaths from despair are greatly reduced among those who attend church regularly. The study concluded that those who attended a religious service at least once per week had a significantly lower risk of death compared with those who never attend. Engaging with one’s community and spending time with loved ones is also credited with reducing depression and even heart disease. Maybe there’s something valuable in connecting with God.
It is in this broken world that God has a message for you. It is a message of hope for the weary. A message of peace for the disturbed. And a message of love to the unloved. And it’s a message that you will only find at a church near you. As Fall descends upon us, many churches begin anew with fresh activities. Maybe you could consider finding one to attend. There are plenty of good ones around the area. First, you could check out websites online and find out more information. You could listen to some of the pastor’s previous sermons or contact the pastor directly. Pastors are friendly, unless they don’t get coffee in the morning. Luckily, most churches come equipped with coffee machines so, if necessary, you can get your pastor back to proper working order.
Maybe you haven’t been to church in a long time or ever. That’s okay. You are still welcome there, no matter who you are, no matter what you’ve done, no matter how far you’ve strayed from Him. It is a place where God speaks to us through the preaching of His Word and He has a message for you, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him” (John 3:17). A message of good news amid all the bad news. Jesus always brings good news to the poor, wretched, and lost. He is the proof that God offers grace to you despite your past, despite your wrongs, and despite your failures. You are welcome at church.
So, maybe churchgoers aren’t so weird, after all. Maybe they’re on to something. Or maybe it’s okay to be weird.