Why belong to a church?

Tribal Church discusses why one might belong to a church in an era of “I’m spiritual but not religious.”

I was at a party, holding my plastic cup of beer and talking to a stranger in a crowded house. She was in thirties, like I was. “So, what do you do?” she asked. “Where to do you work?”

I smiled because this part of the conversation can become really interesting. I’m a five-foot tall woman, who’s part of a generation that considers itself “spiritual but not religious,” so people don’t usually expect my answer: “I’m a pastor.”

“Oh my God,” she responded. “I never knew why anyone would go to church. But last year, my mom got sick. She’s divorced, and I’m living hundreds of miles away from her, so I didn’t know what we were going to do. And her church totally took care of her. They brought her meals. They drove her to the doctor. They called me when anything out of the ordinary happened.”

“Yeah. That’s what the good churches do.”

“Really?” She looked completely confused as she continued, “I had no idea. You should really advertise that.” I laughed, and we talked for a bit more about her career. But, her initial comments stuck with me as I snagged a rare empty space on the couch. I looked at the crowd of mingling people, and the loud music triggered my thoughts. It never occurred to me that people would not know that churches care for the sick. What had church become in the minds of most people?

Category : The Lead

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7 Comments
  1. ncmama

    You know what the Christian church has become in the minds of many; an ecclesiastical Big Brother with a long list of requirements (mostly consisting of Don’ts.) Those churches have replaced Christianity in action with a dead form of religion designed to confirm (or at least not disturb)the worshiper’s self-assessment.

    There is more; too often the radical Xian right wing have defined the faith to suit their own purposes, not Jesus’ purposes. Further, implicit in this woman’s story is her unwillingness to commit her time and work among a community of faithful, as her mother did. A mark of our times, indeed.

    Although I view the book of Revelations with considerable reservation, I believe we ought to take warning from its descriptions of the Churches in John’s vision and how they fall short of the glory of God.

    ncmama — please sign your name next time. Ed.

  2. Churches are front groups for right wing politics. Everyone knows that. Unfortunately not only do many non-members think that, increasingly so do members.

    Jim Beyer

  3. Robert Felice

    Church has so many meanings to so many people. Christian fellowship is what I read in the above article. It is not only socializing, it is sharing the ups and downs of life, the strengths and weaknesses of our character and our hopes, through redemption, for forgiveness and a closer relationship with God. To me that is what “church” is.

  4. tgflux

    What had church become in the minds of most people?

    An institution for which the ONLY reason it doesn’t shun, ban, condemn, exclude or socially/legally/politically discriminate, would be for (sizeable) contributions to the collection plate. [I think that’s probably the predominant view among those under 40.]

    JC Fisher

  5. Dä'ved Äyan | David Allen

    “Yeah. That’s what the good churches do.”

    “Really?” She looked completely confused as she continued, “I had no idea. You should really advertise that.”

    Perhaps one of the best kept secrets of the church!

  6. pam

    Perhaps she didn’t know it because not all chuches do. I came from an RC parish where the pastor not only didn’t visit my mother in her final illness – he didn’t have time in his schedule to do her funeral. Fortunately the Catholic mortuary found a priest for us. That is when I left the RC church and looked for another that was more Christian – TEC. But, you know, I really still have a lack of trust.

    Pam Alger

  7. pam

    Perhaps she didn’t know it because not all chuches do. I came from an RC parish where the pastor not only didn’t visit my mother in her final illness – he didn’t have time in his schedule to do her funeral. Fortunately the Catholic mortuary found a priest for us. That is when I left the RC church and looked for another that was more Christian – TEC. But, you know, I really still have a lack of trust.

    Pam Alger

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