Posts Tagged ‘why attend church?’

When I came upon this meme, I immediately saw two inferences: (1) only people who our culture considers “weak” go to church and, (2) church (or any kind of faith, for that matter) cannot help us get through life’s challenges.

From my perspective, these broad generalizations entirely miss the point of faith.

Most importantly, when hard times smack you in the face, do you want to face them alone? As my pastor friend Ross Carkner points out, “church isn’t a place that you go to, but a people you do life with. And life isn’t an individual sport; it’s often a war and we do battle together.”

Ross’s point is significant because unlike, say, a wine-tasting group or a book club, church deals with the most important matters of life. And because of that, churches are uniquely equipped to help you deal with disappointments and bad news.

Are people of faith weak and incapable of standing tall when setbacks strike like a hurricane? Some folks might think so, but those of us who follow Jesus of Nazareth (who many people believe is the Son of God) know that He’s the one who makes us strong.

We are strengthened through His sacrificial death (to make up for all the wrong things we’ve done and all the right things we’ve failed to do) and His resurrection. We are made capable of forgiving even the most heinous crimes because through Jesus, we are totally forgiven.

That might make us seem weak to some, but there’s no point in living life angry and bitter. Before deciding to follow Jesus, that’s what I was like and it made me unpleasant to be around.

When Jesus followers encounter hard times, we absolutely want to fall to our knees and start praying. I know many critics of faith believe prayer is an eye-rolling waste of time, but for us, it:

  • connects us to Jesus
  • helps us to discern how He wants us to respond to the challenges before us
  • gives us the willpower to stand tall

Just as important as these points, connecting to Jesus helps us to understand that life isn’t just about our needs, our hopes and our struggles. It’s about seeing – and responding to – the pain and suffering around us.

Because of our faith in Jesus, we become God’s ambassadors in a world that even the most optimistic person will admit isn’t doing very well. Out of that has come Samaritan’s Purse, World Vision, Compassion Canada, Christian Blind Mission, International Justice Mission and many other charities that are helping people in crisis to get back on their feet and stand tall.

So let me end by making a suggestion that ties directly into the meme: if you have young kids, take them to church, even if you don’t fully understand what’s going on and even if you’re not sure what you believe. When you take that step, you keep the door of faith open for your children to explore. If you’re a person open to spirituality, I believe that would be important to you.

Agree? Disagree? Post your response below and let’s have a conversation. 🙂

Read Full Post »

homer-simpson-quotes-about-love-7417I found this graphic on the Internet and, as a fan of the long-running Simpsons TV show, it got my mental wheels spinning.

First, the fun stuff. Homer Simpson the hard worker?? If you’ve seen the Simpsons, you’ll know Homer works hard looking for ways NOT to work at all. 🙂

“Not a bad guy”. Maybe not. But a good guy? Well, who among us is really good?

Consider these words from one of the earliest and most important followers of Jesus of Nazareth: “There is no one doing what is right, not even one.”

Beyond that challenging statement, I ask: what is “good”? Am I still good if I routinely exceed the speed limit (which I do)? Am I still good if I pay a contractor under the table to avoid taxes (which I don’t)?

And what about ignoring my creator? As a serious follower of Jesus (who many people believe is the Son of God), I know that God is interested in every part of my life. So if I live as if He barely exists, am I still “good”?

One of the reasons I follow Jesus is because in the end, I have to admit I’m NOT good. And no matter how hard I work at it, I can never be good on my own.

I welcome Jesus into my life because He is bringing me closer to “good”. And for the many times I still fall short, his sacrificial death and resurrection wipes all my shortcomings off the books. God sees me as he sees His Son – perfect, without blemish.

The other thing that grabbed me about this graphic is the notion of spending Sundays (in church, I presume) hearing about going to Hell.

I imagine if you’re not a regular church attender, then you’re nodding in agreement with Homer’s assertion. But it’s no more true than his claim about working hard.

I regularly attend church services because through them, I learn more about how to live as a Jesus follower. I’m also surrounded by other Jesus followers who encourage me, support me and pray with & for me.

Does Hell come up? Now and then. However, serious Jesus followers aren’t fixated on it because we know we’re not going there. But we keep in mind all those we know who don’t follow Jesus. We want to spend eternity with them in Heaven, so we pray for them and, at church, we learn how to lovingly show them and tell them about the hope we have in Jesus.

If that sounds appealing to you, then step out on the ledge one Sunday. Go to a church service and talk to the people you meet there. It just might change your life. 🙂

Read Full Post »

ChurchBeyond being a proud stepdad to three wonderful young adults, parenthood – the 24/7, down-and-dirty real thing – is not and will not be part of my life. But I know for certain one thing my parents did right for me: they took me to church.

Despite moving several times, my parents continually had me and my two brothers attend Catholic mass with them until I hit age 16. For the most part, I found the experience a stand-up/sit-down/recite-this-standard-prayer exercise in boredom.

What probably didn’t help is that the experience didn’t seem much more interesting to my parents. The meaning and significance of a Catholic mass was never explained to me (I’m not sure Mom and Dad understood it, either), so when they told us we were old enough to decide for ourselves whether we wanted to keep attending, the result was no surprise. All of us brothers said “no thanks” and for me, that was the end of church for many years.

But the seed of something deep and spiritual was planted and, I’m glad to write, has blossomed into such significance that it influenced who I married and where I go to work.

So, I remain grateful for what Mom and Dad did all those decades ago, especially when I read a National Post blog by Barbara Kay on the subject of children and faith. One paragraph, in particular, stood out:

Children are not satisfied with chaos theory or moral relativism. They want order, a system, a precise identity (my friend’s grandchild told a schoolmate he was ‘half Jewish, half Christmas’). They need an infallible ‘GPS’ to navigate their way through ‘mean’ playmates, unfair or insensitive teaching, the troubling deaths of pets and family members, rumours of war and natural disasters.”

So, imagine if I hadn’t had a childhood GPS? And just as important for young parents, imagine if your children don’t have a GPS? That’s why I write that even if you’re not quite sure where you stand with Christianity, even if you still have a ton of unanswered questions, even if some things make you scratch your head in confusion, set them aside and take your children to church.

If they aren’t regularly exposed to Sunday services, they will likely miss the chance to decide for themselves about a life of faith, about who Jesus is, and about the value of following Him. You will have made the decision for them, on a matter I believe is of supreme importance.

As Ms. Kay put it in her blog, “There is nothing to be lost in gifting children with God and religion, but much to be gained – for them as individuals and for society as a whole.”

Agree? Disagree? Put your thoughts in a comment below and let’s have a conversation.

Read Full Post »