As a child, my parents told me we went to church to learn about God. The sermon was when I learned about God, so I assumed the rest of the service was unnecessary. I deemed everything outside the message as obligatory filler and tuned it out, waiting for the main event. According to my reasoning, a church service without a sermon was wasted time, as was a trivial message where I didn’t learn anything.
Other people focus on the singing part of church. They see it as their time to worship God. They may tune out the preaching, viewing it as unnecessary. For them, a church service with an hour of music is the best kind.
Singing to God is important and learning about God is important, but we can do both of those from the comfort of our home. So why, then, do we bother to go to church? Because there’s more.
Church has a third element most people overlook. It’s community. It’s hanging out with friends on a like-minded spiritual journey. The music and message are secondary in comparison to experiencing rich spiritual connections.
Community is why I go to church. Sadly, too many churches don’t place value on real community and too many attendees don’t experience significant connection at church.
True spiritual connections with others rarely happen during church services – or at least how we practice church today. Occasionally, brief community can occur before the service, but the primary opportunity for meaningful interaction is after church, once the final “amen” marks the end of the official service.
To realize meaningful spiritual community, we must be intentional, and we must be patient. Seek out people who aren’t in a rush to leave. Engage them in conversation, but minimize small talk about the weather, the afternoon game, or last night’s movie. Seek spiritual substance. Share life, talk about our spiritual journeys, pray for others and let them pray for us. Meet needs, help others, celebrate Jesus.
This is how we worship and serve God; this is why we go to church – and if your church doesn’t allow for this kind of deep community, then either fix your church or find a new one.