I went to church regularly for the first seventeen years of my life. I grew up in a family of lifelong Episcopalians and I learned early on the value of falling asleep during a sermon. An inner quarrel grew, however, as I began to experience what I perceived as a disparity between what I believed spirituality to be and what I felt was being conveyed by the church.
It has been an on again, off again relationship, and after taking a serious stab at raising my children in the church and not being able to do so in a positive manner, it has been off. I wandered off in a rather permanent sense, though every now and then I entertain the notion of going back.
When I ask myself what I miss about church and why I imagine that those who attend continue to attend, I come up with these three benefits of church attendance:
- The social part, chatting with friends and acquaintances, sharing a bit of life together or a new recipe, catching up on the latest gossip. This is often the best part of regular church attendance. It provides an opportunity to socialize in an orderly fashion without excessive expectations or preparation. One can escape in a flash if someone or something is particularly annoying with the comfort of knowing you won’t have to see the individual for another week, if then. “Sorry, got to run. I’m meeting Aunt Sally for lunch and she hates when I’m late. See you next week.” Most people are best enjoyed in small doses.
- Giving back. Being a part of a community that gives something back to the world feels good. Participating in church events or even just putting a few dollars in the plate on Sunday morning gives a person the feeling they’re contributing to the betterment of the world. We all need that. It’s all planned and orchestrated for us so it doesn’t cut into our very busy lives.
- Food for thought. Inspiration. Something to help get us through the week. Nourishment for our soul, even if we’re not sure we have one. And even if we sleep through the sermon, chances are good that we’ll carry away a little golden nugget to spur us on in the daily challenges we all face.
Now, I ask you, doesn’t this sound exactly like Facebook? (And you can even get an app for that!) I would love your feedback!