Why Bother With Church?

If you've read any Christian books, seen any Christian statistics or just attended a Christian church recently, you've perhaps noticed that a lot of younger evangelicals are growing disinterested in the whole "being plugged in at a local church" thing, even if they might have a vibrant faith otherwise. The reasons for this are extensive and widely documented. Church is seen as too inconvenient, boring, out-of-touch, irrelevant, inauthentic, hypocritical, too much of a performance, and so on and so forth. These are mostly valid criticisms, and I can't really blame people for being lackluster about the local church.

But, as a lover of the Church and a believer in the biblical call to following Christ in community, my question is: How do we make the case for attending church? Rather than throw up our hands and declare the end of the local church, what can we do to re-articulate the kingdom dream of Christ, which involves us not just as individuals but as the church body?

I explore these questions in a new article in Relevant, whose 50th issue is out this week. My article is on pages 82-87, and here's a little excerpt:

Part of the difficulty people have with committing to a local church is that our society has for centuries been on a egalitarian trajectory of asserting individual rights over against institutions, notes Sumner. “We’ve been in a long revolt against authority ever since the Reformation,” she said. “The whole trajectory is about me and my power. We have authority problems.”

It’s an uphill battle to overcome our deeply ingrained consumer mentality and fickle tendency to abandon a church the minute it becomes too difficult. But the truth is, no matter how long someone shops for the perfect church, they’ll never find it. Instead of succumbing to inclinations that churchgoing is about "me" and that it must meet "my" needs, believers should instead look at churchgoing as a chance to get outside of self-serving bubbles and join in something bigger and grander.

The Church is this mind-boggling, mystical, relatively new phenomenon of history in which the God of the universe, through His Son and with the power of the Holy Spirit, inaugurated a revolutionary new kingdom on earth. A kingdom not of kings ruling by force, but of pockets of people united by selfless love, charity and a steadfast hope in rejuvenation and renewal. This church welcomes us into its arms so that, together, we can join Christ in the bringing of light to a dark world.

Read the full article on Relevant's website.