Staff & Sling

Joseph E. Hébert, Ph.D.

98119 N 3745 Rd
Okemah, OK  74859
918 623 3078

Why Go to Church?

Someone once said that going to church was like going to the gas station. You need to fill up spiritually from time to time. While the idea is true, it occurs to me that this is the problem. People go to church like they go to the gas station.

Think about it for a moment. You pull into the station and up to the pump. You get out, get your gas and get on your way as quickly as possible. You likely prefer stations with “pay at the pump” since it eliminates the need to waste all of those precious moments dealing with the attendant at the register, not to mention standing in line with all of those other customers.

And how is that different from the last time you went to church. You probably didn’t go to Sunday School because the service is the important part. So you pulled into church a few minutes before the service was supposed to begin, made your way into the sanctuary and took your seat. You bowed your head for prayer, sang along (or not) with the hymns, and listened to a sermon. You probably started checking your watch about five minutes before the service was supposed to end, and made an immediate dash for your car as soon as the pastor said “You’re dismissed.”

So here’s my question for you. Why? Why did you go to church?

Were you really interested in the sermon? Did you take notes? Did you go home and look up the references the pastor cited, checking their context to see if the pastor was right? Or did you listen to the extent that you waited for the pastor to stop before you left?

Maybe you went for the fellowship? Did you go to the fellowship hall after the service and visit with your friends? Did you have coffee and discuss the sermon, or the weather, or anything else? Or did you visit with your Christian brethren to the extent that you shook their hands as you made your way diligently to the door and your car?

When did going to church become such a chore? David wrote “I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the Lord,” (Psalm 122: 1). Why don’t we feel that way?

I watched a movie recently – it doesn’t matter which one – and I heard a character say something very profound. He said to his soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend, “The person whose calls you always take, that’s the person you’re in a relationship with.” Similarly, the people you spend time with, they're your friends and family. When you meet your friends at the coffee shop, it’s not a chore. You’re there because you want to spend time with your friends. And that’s what going to church should be. Not a family reunion at which you’re required to make an appearance, but a time of getting together with your friends.

So I invite you to come back to church. But don’t come just to make an appearance because it’s required. Come for Sunday School. Join in the discussion. Stay for the morning service, and when it’s over stick around and visit awhile. We’ll be glad to make another pot of coffee. And come back for the evening service too. We usually have a round-table discussion of the morning’s sermon, and we’d all like to hear your thoughts on the subject. Who knows. Next Sunday morning you might even take notes.