Faith: Why should we go to church?
Growing up, church was an important part of my life. My parents made sure that we attended church. As a child, I didn’t always want to go or be at church. I thought that I had better things to do such as play outside or watch TV or sleep in.
As it says in 1 Corinthians 13:11 “I understood as a child …” As I grew and matured (some), my attitude toward church changed and I began to understand a bit more the importance of church. But when I left for college, I had to decide for myself if I would “put away childish things” (1 Cor 13:11) and continue to attend church when there was no one there to make me go.
Thankfully, the teachings of my parents had sunk in and I indeed continued to attend church. What a life-changing decision.
Without church, I would not have met and married my wonderful wife who has been such an incredible influence for good on me. Without church, I would not have had the faith to endure the trials I have faced in my life.
Without church, I would not have my beautiful family or a solid foundation from which to raise my children. Without church, I would not be who I am and more importantly, I would not be able to become better than I am today.
My faith and church worship, center around Jesus Christ. But all churches, synagogues, mosques and other religious institutions can and do have profound impact on their members’ lives. However, there have been two recent studies that are cause for concern.
In 2019 the Pew Research Foundation published a study titled “In U.S., Decline of Christianity Continues at Rapid Pace.” One of the alarming trends that was identified concerned not just Christianity but religious affiliation as a whole.
In 2009 the U.S population was 307 million people. At that time, 17% reported “no religious affiliation” which would include atheists, agnostics or “nothing in particular.” This equates to about 52.2 million people in the U.S. By 2018 the U.S. population had grown to 327 million and 26% or 85 million people reported no religious affiliation.
The largest shift was seen in the younger generation, the so-called millennials. Similarly a Gallup Poll conducted in 2021, showed that, for the first time since 1937, (when the data was first collected) being a member of a church, synagogue or mosque put you in the minority.
That’s right, according to the poll approximately 53% of the population of the United States reports that they do not belong to a church, synagogue or mosque. Now, this does not mean that 53% do not believe in a god or or some sort of supreme religious being. But it is concerning to me.
So, why go to church? Living here in the beautiful Rocky Mountains, many feel that they can be closer to God in nature than in church. Can’t I be “religious” and be a good person without attending church? Of course you can.
But, I would counter that you could be a better person and closer to God by attending church. In church we learn about God and religious principles, and we can associate with others who are striving to do the same.
In church, and by the associations we gain from it, we can learn from one another. We can see the religious principles being applied in others’ lives and how these principles are helping them.
Some may feel that they don’t get much out of church. They may not attend because they feel like they don’t learn anything or because someone in the church or perhaps even in the church leadership has offended them. Maybe they just don’t have a friend in the church. But those things are not what church is truly about.
Church is about worshiping God. That is our own personal responsibility, and we shouldn’t let anyone stand in the way of our personal growth and developing a personal relationship with our God. On the other hand, if you feel church isn’t giving you what you need, consider this: Go to church with the goal of making sure that someone else’s church needs are met while there. Say hello to someone new or to someone you don’t know. Share a story about how God has helped you. You might be surprised what happens to you when you focus on helping someone else at church.
The COVID pandemic has been so difficult in many ways. It would be hard to find any aspect of our lives that hasn’t been touched by it. Certainly church attendance has been affected by it. Many have fallen out of the habit of going to church in the past couple of years. I invite you back. Please, remember the good feelings and friends you have at church. Most importantly, remember that God loves you and wants you to come back.
Jeff Womble is a husband, father of 5 and a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He is a surgeon. He enjoys off-roading, shooting sports, the outdoors and his family.
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