Why Do You Go to Church?

by The Rev. Dr. Jason Parkin, Rector

I've asked this question at least once in a sermon in every church I've served. The answer for me is pretty simple. I go to Church to be with you. To be nourished by God in sacrament and song, psalm and scripture. To be renewed for the days ahead. And, above all, to be reminded that I am-as are all-the child of God.

I think this is an incredibly important question right now because there are, quite frankly, so many other options on a Sunday morning - far more than when I was a kid and many more options than when my parents were children.

You might want instead to sleep in, or catch up on some work, or go shopping, or meet a friend for coffee at Starbucks, or run through some email, or read the paper, or go to your kid's soccer match or hockey game, or see what you missed this week on your DVR, or watch a film on demand or.... The list goes on and on. Which makes me curious. Why do those of us who still go to church - which remains the single activity done by more people than any other in the U.S. - actually go?

There are a lot of reasons, I realize, perhaps as many as there are people in attendance. And while some of those reasons - to make a parent, spouse, or significant other happy, for instance - reflect more external motivations than internal, I think there are still lots of internal reasons people choose to spend part of their Sunday morning at church. Some go for community, while others because it's an important part of their identity. Some go to see friends, while others hope for guidance in how they live. And so on.

But while there are lots of good reasons to go to church, the one that gets me out of bed and to the sanctuary most frequently is a sense of need. I realize that might sound odd. But here's the thing: I need to be reminded, especially in a time and a world such as ours, of God's unceasing love and grace.

Think about it. Each and every week, we hear the news that the God who created and still sustains this vast cosmos not only knows that you and I exist but actually gives a darn. More than that, that same God cares deeply and passionately about our ups and down, ins and outs, hopes and heartbreaks, successes and failures. And even more than that, that same God cares about us enough to send the Christ that we might know and believe just how much God loves us.

This news is so good it almost sounds too good to be true. And while it might sound great on Sunday, by Friday - and some weeks, let's face it, by Monday afternoon - it seems very hard to believe. And so we come back to church week in and week out to hear the good news of God's love, forgiveness, and grace, that we might leave encouraged to believe it - and, even harder, to live it - for one more week.

The people I know who go to church don't go because they think they are perfect but because they - we - know ourselves to be in need of Christ's grace and look forward to being renewed by our time in worship. We go each week to hear of God's forgiving love, and leave trying to live into that forgiveness, love, and a world of new possibility.

Why do I go to Church? To be with you. To be nourished by God in sacrament and song, psalm and scripture. To be renewed for the days ahead. And, above all, to be reminded that I am-as are all-the child of God.