When most people think about Church, two primary aspects come to mind. This first is the sermon. Even the most unbelieving person knows that a Church has a preacher who talks every week. The second piece of Church would be musical worship. All Churches have some form of music from acapella singing to a band to a piano or organ. These two items are a part of every Christian gathering around the world.
These two parts of a Church meeting are well-known and are seemingly becoming less relevant. You can now access hundreds of thousands of sermons online from the best speakers around the world on any topic you desire. It is also true that you have the best of Christian music at your fingertips as well. You can listen to Hillsong and Elevation perform their original songs at a quality level the local Church cannot produce. The Church is now competing against the best speakers and singers in the world, and it is losing, so why would anyone want to attend?
This was the thought going through my head yesterday while I sat in my chair at Church. Why would anyone come here? Then I began to look around, and I noticed a few things you might never have thought about as benefits to attending worship.
1. The People Connection. Our world is moving toward greater and greater isolation. You can spend your life staring at a screen and never leaving your house. Entertainment can be done at home, but also shopping and banking. People are developing less and less real relationships. The Church is about people coming together before God and being pushed out of seclusion.
2. Diversity. The natural tendency of most individuals is to stay with people like themselves. The Church breaks all the rules of our normal relationships. It brings together young and old, rich and poor, along with the smart and people like me. While there are days in which I wonder about the wisdom of bringing such a diverse group of people together, there are numerous incredible people. I am continually amazed at the individuals I connect with at Church by merely being in the same place.
3. Godly Mentors. Through the years I have come to appreciate the senior citizens in the Churches I have served. It is especially encouraging to hear the stories of people who have followed Jesus for more years than I have been alive. It inspires me as I listen to their stories of overcoming adversity in their life, marriage, and parenting. I find people to look up to at Church.
4. Prayer. At some point on Sunday morning the group will stop to pray, often it happens several times during worship. Nowhere else am I forced to go before God in my heart and mind. Not only am I pushed toward prayer, but I am also made aware of the needs of other people so that I may pray for them. This forces me to look beyond my own life into the concerns of others and to become less selfish.
5. Significant Impact. You never know what a comment or conversation will do in the life of another person. Several of the people who gather each Sunday have sins and struggles that are tearing them up inside. Each one of us has the chance to make an impact on their life for eternity. My life has been blessed more than once by a casual encounter where another believer said something that encouraged me. I have been blessed over and over through the lives of the people I randomly bump into on Sunday morning.
Sure, the Church still has songs and sermons every week, but it is so much more. There are parts of it you will not completely understand until you become engrained in the weekly meetings of the group. Personally, today I am thankful for the ways God has blessed my life through the Church. I am especially grateful for the community of believers made up of people like you.