We don’t have this conversation every Sunday. But at random times, my daughter doesn’t want to attend church.
I already know all those Bible stories (as if).
I want to watch a movie instead.
Why do we have to take time to do that?
Somewhere along the way, I developed a few answers I give her in response. Now, I have her tell me the reasons from memory.
Because it makes God happy.
Church fills us up.
In my years of ministry, I’ve heard so many stories of adults who were forced to go to church as a child. Every. Time. The. Doors. Were. Open. They grew resentful. Some stopped going altogether the first chance they had. Others refuse to make it a priority after having it shoved down their throats.
I don’t ever want to respond with “You’re going to church because I said so.” (Even if it’s true.) Instead, I try to teach about the relationship we find at church. Why I believe God would have us to go.
A few weeks ago, I mentioned these phrases to my mom. Immediately, she added one of her own to the list.
Someone there might need you. I knew instantly, she was right.
Because It Makes God Happy.
God loves to be in relationship with us. When we willingly, cheerfully, attend His house, He sees that our hearts want to worship Him. Singing with praise (even if it’s off-key), spending time in reflective prayer, responding to the words in the sermon, bringing our tithe, remembering Him through communion. All of these things please His holy heart.
Church Fills Us Up.
We live very full lives. Even when much of our weeks are spent doing good - working as to the Lord and not unto man, attending Bible studies, meal ministries, volunteer hours - we can arrive at the weekend running on fumes. Enter Sabbath. A time to stop working. Rest. So many Sundays I step into the sanctuary needing this time with Him. The words in a song, the Scriptures we read, the application offered from each sermon or learned in a Sunday School class. They mean something.
Someone There Might Need You.
As I mentioned, there are times I get to Sunday morning and my spiritual tank runs dangerously close to empty. God knows this. He also realizes that while seeking out those who need a hug or a greeting or a prayer might seem like work, really it’s all about filling me up too. Opening my Spiritual eyes. Refocusing myself on what God would have me to do.
For my daughter, to offer her big, genuine smile to everyone who greets her. In Jesus’ name. A chance to welcome those who are new to her Sunday School class. The opportunity to say a kind word to a peer who’s maybe having a hard morning and comes to class withdrawn and quiet.
I give these reasons to my daughter.
But really, they remain my reasons as well. The Big Three. Which reminds me of another three we read about in I Corinthians. The Love Chapter. They offer excellent reasons to be in church on a Sunday morning as well.
Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love. I Corinthians 13:13 (HCSB)