Why We Should Go To Church
By Greg Quinn
November 11th, 2014
If you are like me, you have heard all your life, “go to church”. In our Quinn family household, this was not a suggestion, but an imperative. To not go to church was never an option as long as we lived in Dad’s house. Dad was a preacher, a Pastor, and his job was to be at church every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night, and if he was going to be there, his family would too. So I, and my 3 brothers, grew up in church.
As a young child I learned to love going to church. My family was there (our little church comprised almost all of our family as most all lived in the local area) so Sunday was a “family reunion” of sorts. We saw Uncle Hambone, Uncle Clay B., Aunt Betty, Aunt Mary, Aunt Rita, Uncle Dalton, and many other family members. We saw all our cousins, we saw all our friends. So we went to church. Every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. And as a child and young boy I enjoyed it.
I heard about Jesus and his life all my life. The first songs I heard and learned were Christian songs. The first songs I learned to sing were songs about Jesus.
“Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so, little ones to him belong, they are weak but He is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. The Bible tells me so.”
Even today, I may not remember a lot of things in my childhood. Chances are I could not recall the words to very many songs from my younger life. But I can not only sing these words today, but the tune and the recollection of this song brings back memories of all the good things about church as a child, about growing up in church, and how it was that the message of God’s love and Jesus was imparted into my young mind. This song actually says it all, but that’s another sermon.
I became a Christian, and asked God to enter into my life. The Holy Spirit of God came to live in me, and while I had always been a good boy (but very mischievous), live became different when God lives in you. The things I had heard my Dad preach all of a sudden had meaning. And Church was more than a gathering place, but it had significance.
So the centerpoint of my young life was church and family. But then the teenage years came along, and like most teens, I woke up one morning very stupid. I started to think that I knew more than my parents. My Dad, and his religion, was not as important any more. I became rebellious, and I no longer wanted to go to church. I had other things I’d rather do. Like sleep in on Sunday morning. Like visit my friends on Sunday evening. Like watch TV on Wednesday night. I didn’t want to hear any more about the rules of church, and I forgot about the songs like “Jesus Loves Me”, “O How I Love Jesus”, “The Old Rugged Cross”, and “Amazing Grace”. My new songs were “Cat Scratch Fever”, “Paranoid”, “Whipping Post”, and “Into the Sun”. I began to think that church was no longer relevant for my life. And therefore my actions were different. I fell away from church, I fell away from God, I fell away from my family.
Oh, I still went to church. Just
because I didn’t want to go, that didn’t give me the option to not go.
As long as I lived in the house of Reverend J.P. Quinn, my little butt
would be in church. And if my attitude wasn’t right about it, I would get an
“attitude adjustment” with Dad and Mr. Belt or Mr. Switch.
So I went, but didn’t want to be there.
My attitude stunk. My family relationships suffered. And I got a whooping very often, and almost without fail
every Sunday afternoon or evening.
Life went on. I grew up. I eventually learned that Dad was right. Church became important again. I also became a minister, just like my Dad. I’ve been Youth Minister, Associate Pastor, and Pastor of many churches. And here I am today writing about subjects like my Dad would preach behind the pulpit of our old church.
Enough history about me. Please take from this one salient point. I grew up learning the importance of church. I later thought that church wasn’t important. Years later I understood the importance of church again. And I totally understand that I am not alone, and that many thousands of others have experienced or are experiencing the exact same thing today that I have experienced in my past. Therefore, let me share with you some insight that I have gained about why church is important.
Why should we go to church? There are many reasons that could be listed, but most you have heard before. Because God said so. Because the Bible said so. Because it was important to you way back then, or important to your parents or grandparents, so it should be important to you now. Because Dad said so, or Mom said so. Or your friends are there. Or you get to see your family. Or you like the girl in the second row of the choir. Or you teach a class. Or you sing in the choir. Or you are a Deacon. Or you are expected to be there. Or it’s the right thing to do. Or to not go says something about you to others. And on and on.
I want to get deeper than that and explore the foundation of the church and therefore why the relevance of it is so important to you as an individual today.
First, let’s just accept the fact that God and the Bible does in fact say that it is important for us to go to church, as indicated in the following scripture:
Hebrews 10:24-25 King
James Version (KJV)
let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but
exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
You may have heard or read this scripture before.
Verse 25 is one of the top verses in the Bible as to why we should attend
church. It says in verse 24 that
because we are encouraged to love one another and do good works, and in verse 25
that we should assemble together which helps us therefore in our quest to love
one another and do good works. And
that we should not forsake this practice, but do it, even though many others do
not. And we should attend church even more religiously as we see
the “day approaching”, which means as time goes on and the world gets more
and more wicked and the day of Christ’s return is approaching. So, therefore, as we see the wickedness of our world continue
to grow, and life is harder now than it was years ago, and because of the
difficulties of life and the mean world in which we live, we should even more
hold the practice of attending church to hear the words of God, to worship Him,
to sing songs to God, and to learn instruction on how to live day-to-day in a
difficult world. It may have been
important to you when you were young; it is more important to you now.
While this all is relevant and true, I want to get beyond this if I may. Assume for a moment that while you may or may not understand that the Bible says it’s important to attend church, let’s look back a bit further and try to really understand the relevance of church. Not just that you should go. But why you should go. And why this is important to you.
Let’s assume that you have heard of Jesus. Let’s assume that you have heard of the Bible. Let’s assume that somewhere in your life you heard stories of Jesus. Let’s assume that you have been to church or at least know what a church is for. So I won’t go so much into the “you should do this because God said so” bit, but want to point out some facts where you, as an adult, can determine for yourself whether church is relevant to you or not. Fair enough?
First, a church for the Christian faith is a gathering place where we
assemble ourselves together (as in the previously referenced scripture) to help
each other learn love and to do good works.
The Christian faith is the faith in Christ Jesus.
So the Christian church is a place where those of us who believe in Jesus
get together and learn together about God and learn to love God and learn to
love each other and learn now to do good works in the world in which we live.
And a place where we can find encouragement and support.
Now that’s what the Christian church is supposed to look like, but
often it does not, right?
Perhaps some of you have been in churches that were not so much about love as much as someone judging you on whether or not you were good enough. The “little Pharisees” in churches today ruin church for many people. But all of us are sinners and all of us make mistakes and so let’s look beyond what is bad about the church now and look instead at what it is supposed to look like, and why.
First, you may see Christianity as a religion. I see it as more of a relationship, but let’s go with your thought for a moment. If it is a religion, then we need to understand the definition of religion. Basically, a religion is a bunch of people who believe the same thing. Muslims believe that their prophet Mohammed was right. Buddhists believe in the teachings of Buddha. Mormons believe the Bible in part, but then take the teachings of a man to add to what is in the Bible. Jews believe in the same God as Christians, but in only the Old Testament; they are still looking for the Messiah. And within those who accept that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah, there are differences in our beliefs also. So we have Baptist and Catholic, Methodist and Pentecostal denominations, Church of Christ and Church of God and “Non-Denominational” groups. Therefore, these differences in beliefs cause us to assemble differently with those who are like-minded.
Going beyond this, let’s look at why the Christian church, or Christian religion, was formed.
The Christian religion, if you wish to call it a religion, is centered
around Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the teachings of Jesus as recorded in
the Bible. So what’s the
difference between Christianity and all other religions?
You could perhaps list many, but the key centerpoint is one thing.
All religions are built around a theory, an idea, a belief.
Christianity, however, is not built around a theory, an idea, or a
belief, but instead, Christianity is built around an event.
This event, something that actually happened and is recorded in history,
is that Jesus not only died, but rose from the dead.
And in His rising from the dead, in which no one else had done, then
since He predicted his death and burial and resurrection (as did prophets
thousands of years before), then everything He said all of a sudden had
validity. Jesus rose from the dead,
and therefore all his teachings and talks and walks and everything he said had
new importance and new meaning. Jesus’
teachings were therefore not about just an idea or a belief, but gained new
perspective as being taught from the only Son of God, as evidenced in His doing
what no other man had ever done, in that he rose from the dead, and therefore
lives even today. This, my friend,
made all the difference.
So, I tend to think of Christianity as not a religion, or the acceptance of a certain idea or theory, but a relationship. The relationship between me and God through Jesus His Son. A personal relationship. Jesus is alive today. I can talk to Him through my prayer. He opens the door for me to have a personal relationship with God. And it’s free. It is not just for me, but for anyone who wants it.
So since Jesus is the only prophet who rose from the dead, proving what He said and proving his teachings as truth, then we should therefore listen to what He said and the things that were therefore important to Jesus should be important to us. Right?
So what is important to Jesus? The New Testament in the Bible is full of teachings of Jesus and what is important to him, and therefore should be important to us. We should put God first. We should put people second. We should live our lives for others and not just for ourselves. And the list goes on and on. But the Jesus teachings are not lists of rules and regulations to gain acceptance by God. No. The Jesus teachings are lists of blessings and things to make our lives better if we do them, not to be accepted by God if we do them, but because we are already accepted by God, we choose to do them.
The Christian church was formed by Jesus.
So, therefore, it’s important. How
did this happen? Let’s go back a
One day Jesus and his disciples were about 150 miles from their home in Jerusalem and in the desert in the outskirts of a city called Caesarea Phillipi. This city was named after the son of Caesar, whom the Romans considered to be a god. In this somewhat remote area, recognizing that the city to which they were traveling, Caesarea Phillipi, was considered a city honored for the son of god (Phillip the son of Caesar), Jesus asked a very important question. He asked this, “Who do you think I am?”
Matthew 16:13-16 King
James Version (KJV)
Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying,
Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?
they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others,
Jeremias, or one of the prophets.
saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
The way Jesus answered Peter’s profession set the stage for what we now
know as the church.
Matthew 16:17-18 King
James Version (KJV)
Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon
Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which
is in heaven.
I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my
church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
The “rock”, the profession that Jesus is the Son of the living God, is
the foundation of the Christian church. This
fact that Jesus is the Son of God, this is the bedrock of our faith.
The Aramaic word that Jesus spoke that was translated “church” was really better translated as an “assembly” or a “gathering”.
But the church wasn’t yet established. For after their arrival in Caesarea Phillipi, they continued to travel together from place to place, and Jesus taught the people through parables and teachings and performed many miracles. Many believed him. Many followed him. The Bible in Matthew Chapters 17-25 record much of this. But, even though his disciples told him not to, Jesus insisted they go back to Jerusalem, where he was later put through a mock trial, beaten, crucified, died, and buried.
Then, all his followers, his disciples, lost hope. The one they thought was the Son of God was now dead. Just like any man. They saw him die. They saw him buried. It was over.
But, because Jesus IS God, he didn’t stay dead. He rose from the dead. Triumphant over death. He died for our sins to save us and to reconcile us back to God, to pay in his own body the penalty for our wrong-doing. And, he rose from the dead to show us that He is God and that because He lives, we can also. A victorious life here on earth, and an eternal life with God in Heaven.
So, after His death, Jesus gathered with a few of his followers. Perhaps around 120 of them. They had all seen him alive after he was dead. Those and many, many others. Now, here Jesus is with a handful of his followers, giving them his final teaching while here on earth. He was going to tell them the summary, the pinnacle, the finality, of His lessons. What could He say on top of all that He already had said that was so important? He said this:
Matthew 28:18-20 King
James Version (KJV)
Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given
unto me in heaven and in earth.
ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with
you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
First, Jesus said all authority was given to him in heaven and in earth.
Wow! What a closing
statement! This is either a very
arrogant statement, or one that is true and should be heeded.
In this case, when you predict your own death and resurrection and you
stand before a group alive, this person should be listened to.
Secondly, here’s what Jesus said he was going to do with all this authority that was given to Him. Would he just take over the world? Would he as the risen Messiah set up his new Kingdom, as his followers thought? He now has all authority in heaven and in earth. What would He do with it?
Here is what Jesus said that was the most important to Him, the thing that He would do with all his authority, His most important command. He said, “you go, and you make disciples of others all around the world, teaching them what I have taught you.”
He didn’t say he was setting up a new nation.
His authority and power was used to send his followers on their way, to
go around the world and make other Jesus’ followers.
Then He said, “I am with you always…”.
Then He left. His followers, then, went back to Jerusalem and, as shown
following in the book of Acts, they started assemblies of like believers, other
Jesus’ followers, and the “church” that Jesus had talked about previously,
was born. This “rock” upon
which the church was built, was to be established forever, and nothing could
stand against it.
So, why should we go to church? Well, of course, the Bible commands it, and that should be good enough. But most often, for most of us, that’s not enough. We need to let it sink in to our small minds in a practical sense. We need to be convinced why we should do something or not do something. So, for many, just because the Bible says to go to church, this is not enough.
But grasp this. When Jesus appeared to his followers, and would leave them to be seen of them no more, and wouldn’t be seen of man again in physical form until the Second Coming, when he opened his mouth to speak, what came out must be extremely important. What did he ask that his people do with this his final words?
He said “go”. Go and make
other Jesus followers. Go make other believers. Go and teach other people what
He had taught them. Go into your
family, your neighborhood, your town, your state, your country, your nation, and
around the world. Go.
Go and teach. Go and reach.
We need the church, the gathering of like believers, to empower one
another to go. We are social
beings, we cannot do it alone. The
church is required to help us to “go”.
If it was important enough for Jesus to promote in his last message on earth, I think it’s an important message for us today.
So why go to church? Now you
God bless you as you gather together to learn and reach others for Jesus.