Why I Go to Church



I don't go to church because they serve pizza.

I don't go to church to see lasers and smoke shows and sound effects I could easily get at Friday night's concert.

I don't go to church in order to feel a surge of energy, or to socialize, or to drink weak coffee.

In all honesty, my church is a humble little place. You might drive right past it, writing it off as another little hillbilly church somewhere in the hills of Maine. And you would be right. Our pastor never makes headlines (he's my dad). Our worship team will never produce an album (it's my dad on guitar and me on the keyboard). We have no youth group. If you were to get every regular attender in one service together, which is fairly uncommon, there would probably be somewhere in the neighborhood of forty people (maybe a little more, but I digress). We have no special effects on our music. We don't preach to the crowd. We're honestly unpopular in our community.

And yet God has richly blessed us.

I go to church, not because I want to get its attempts to be like the rest of culture, but because I want to be there and experience what makes it different. I go to church and I bring a water bottle and I join the adults in speaking of the things that make the Bible great. I sit in an old pew and get up and bang on that keyboard, and I pray while I do it that the music stand won't fall over and send my chord sheets flying into the congregation (it has happened). Then I listen to a forty-five minute sermon that usually has the power to convict me greatly. Right now my dad is preaching through 1 John.

I go to church because God is there, and because I want to seek his face.

I am so far from being a perfect Christian. It is still hard for me to consistently get out my Bible in the mornings and read it and pray. So often I find myself uncertain as to what I should pray. Every day I know how much further I still have to come. By God's grace, I will continue to grow. One place I go in order to do that is my church--where the truth is spoken and the Spirit is present and we put on no production, just a quiet celebration every week of what God has done for his people and how we must respond.

This, I think, is one of the places the American church fails. I have a lot of problems with the American church experience, but I'm not going to go into that right now. The thing I want to say today is that the church fails its young people. There are teenagers leaving the church in droves, and those who do come, come for one of two reasons: either their parents are making them or they genuinely want to be there.

How many teenagers actually come for the free pizza, for the video games, for the coffee? How many come to see their friends and hear themselves told they're doing just fine? We can get all of that in our homes, and usually in better quality. We come to church with questions, bucketloads of them, much of the time, but then we're told to sit down and quietly stay in the background. To go to our watered-down Bible study while the adults receive something more like real sustenance.

The problem with all of this, of course, is that teenagers need just as much sustenance as adults. We've got questions that need answering, and if our questions are not answered, we will lose faith in the Christian system that we've grown up in. Just because we were raised in the church doesn't mean we'll stay in it.

Most people recognize the name of Richard Dawkins, one of the world's most famous atheist scientists. Dawkins, too, grew up in the church, and as a teenager began to ask his pastors and other adults in the church his questions about his faith. They shrugged the questions off, telling Dawkins he should just have faith. That wasn't enough. Is that ever enough for any of us? Richard Dawkins left the church not long after. The rest, as they say, is history.

If you are growing in Christ, you have questions. It's a given. And you should have someone to answer those questions. If your church is not doing that--if they shrug off questions, especially from teenagers, there is something wrong.

I beg you, go to church. Go not because of the culture that is brought in, but because of the divergence from the culture. Go to see the face of Christ and to grow in him. Ask your questions; don't be afraid of growth. Church is a gift our Father gave us, and it's something that we must do. Living in community with other believers is vital. But it must also be a place that we can grow. I pray you find such a place.

Go to church and grow in Christ.

"Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity." (1 Tim. 4:12)



Oof! So this was a bit of a brain-dump on my part...sometimes I just need to do that. XD This is an issue that's very close to my heart--I want to see teens on fire for Jesus, and I want to see the church build them up to be able to do that rather than gently pulling them down. This is vital to us as a church. 

Comments

  1. Love this. I have a lot of problems with churches these days, too. Your church sounds amazing. <3

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  2. This was a really sweet post to read. My family hasn't been in a church for...5 years. Wow! Has it really been that long? Apparently. Anyway, our last church was very legalistic and focused on how the Christians LOOKED, not how their heart was. For the past two years, I have been enthralled by the Word and by God. On average, I spend about two hours every day having the richest one-on-one time. I have grown the most in these past two years than I have my whole life. And now we are looking for a new church, and it feels very strange. In my mind, church is this thing that was supposed to be great, but that we have twisted (and I'm sure that's the case in some churches), and I have a bit of an apprehension towards it.

    This post couldn't have come at a better time. I needed to be reminded that churches remain where a small group of believers are walking through life together and growing together. <3

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    1. Oh, I know those churches well and have a lot of friends who have been burned by them. I'm so sorry you had to go through that. :( The church is something that God gave us, and the devil does want to twist it, because if he can get rid of our community and cut us off from something God gave us...what better way to isolate us or convince us to lose faith in God, right? Your spiritual life honestly sounds amazing, though. I'm so happy that you're growing so much. <3

      I'm so glad this was helpful for you. <3

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  3. Your church sounds really nice, Faith! I am blessed to have a church with a youth group led by a man who is on fire for Jesus. He keeps Jesus the absolute priority of the youth group as a whole, even in the midst of all our teen activities. It makes me sad to know that some youth groups aren't getting good meals from God's Word like mine is. :(

    This is a wonderful little post, Faith. <3 I'm so glad you have a Christ-centered church to go to - I am super blessed to have a Christ-centered church to go to as well. And it's so cool that you play the keyboard!

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    1. That sounds amazing, Lila. <3 I really wish we were a large enough body to have a youth group like that, in all honesty--one of the few downsides of having such a small church is that my sister and I are literally the only regularly attending teens. :P

      I'm thankful you have one too! And aw, thanks!

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  4. Great post Faith! I agree about the current teen culture in some churches these days. I think a lot of them have the fancy lights/concert-like atmosphere to draw in teenagers, and then they forget to have more to offer as far as an in-depth study of God goes. I grew up in a small youth group, though it often neglected to actually study the Bible. They often focused on getting more teens in the group or the worship team instead, and it never seemed right to me. Now my family goes to a small church of mostly elderly people and my faith in God has grown tenfold since we started going there. I’m glad to see more young people speaking out about this! :)

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    1. I love churches with elderly people--that's a large majority of my church too ^_^ It's sad how churches these days seem to care more about boosting their numbers than about really helping people come to God. :P

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  5. Great post, Faith! I . . . honestly don’t know what to say because you just said it all up there. You’re right: we need more teens on fire for Christ!

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    1. Thanks, Rachael! I couldn't agree more ^_^

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  6. Wow, this was really good. Our family has been in many different churches, but the thing that we've always looked for in a church has been a place where God's word is taught accurately, and there is a spirit of worship and honor to the Lord. We actually just moved churches recently, and we are so blessed to be where we are. We are getting to spend time with some very godly people, and we sing right out of the hymnals! (Whenever I visit a church that doesn't use hymnals, I fell like something is missing...) I really loved the spirit of this post!!!
    astoryspinner.blogpsot.com

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    1. I love singing out of the hymnal, although my church does use powerpoint for song lyrics as well just so it's bigger ;) And God's word being taught accurately is so vital. I definitely agree with you there. Thanks!

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  7. Those are the only kind of churches I like going to. The simple ones.

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    1. *nods* Too much flashiness and you miss the point.

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  8. I love this!
    My church is the same way, except I've been struggling with disliking my pastor and a few of the youth leaders because of some issues and holes I've found in their teachings. But my church is my family, and it means a lot to me still.

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    1. I definitely feel that. I'm really sorry you have to go through that...definitely stinks :P I'll be praying for you, Gray!

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  9. The church can provide such an important community. That family is your safety net when you fall down. They are the ones who are supposed to celebrate at your side, confront you when you go astray, and hold you accountable so that you grow. I go to church because I need that community, that family, and because my heart soars to worship together with other believers. We should never be ashamed to ask questions, and as the church, we should encourage others to do the same. Such a wonderful message!

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  10. This is a great post! I actually go to quite a large church, that does have some of the flashiness and large worship teams (which can sometimes be a problem). But I'm very lucky in the sense that on Sunday the messages challenge me, and the every leader in the youth group encourages us to ask hard questions. There are no questions they ask us to shy away from, and encourage us to look at the Bible for answers, as well as discuss the topics in depth with each other. :) It sounds like you're blessed with a wonderful church, and I hope it continues to encourage you in your faith!

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    1. That sounds really great, Melissa <3 I'm so glad you've got a good church. Thanks!

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  11. Great points here, Faith! I didn't realize you were a PK (or if I knew I forgot...?), so *high five* on that. xD Your church sounds very similar to ours as well. :)

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    1. Haha, that's okay. I don't say a ton about it around here. *high five* PKs rock. xD

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  12. You make so many great points! ^_^ Me and two other families do a homechurch, and I've just been so thankful and blessed by the teaching and discussion. It's so easy to just ask questions and talk and discuss. It's good. :) I play keyboard at my church too! :D

    It's really saddening, how our church culture is treating teens. We can only pray that they keep going to church, and they keep asking questions. :|

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