Why Do People Go To Church?

A columnist on ChristianPost.com outlined the reasons people go to church.  It seemed like his thinking represents the problem churches are having at this time in their history.  He does not understand his market.

He writes church is for three purposes:  1.) the glorification of God, 2.) edification of the Saints and 3.) evangelization of the world.

I would doubt many people wake up Sunday morning and decide whether or not to attend a church for any of those three reasons.  Instead, they ask themselves, “Do I feel like going to church today?”

They answer yes to that question if they enjoy church, no if they do not.  That is a deep as the reasoning goes.

With church attendence apparently dropping, thinkers in the faith should be trying to make the answer “yes”.  The reason for a “no” answer must lie in the downer message in many churches.

The message about being born sinners and spending eternity in hell, as I have spelled out here before, is the major problem of the conservative branches of the Christian church, both Catholic and Protestant.  Churches that have left that message behind seem to be growing.

The three reasons for church spelled out above just don’t seem to address the church attendence problem.  They are, instead, a view of the church from the inside, from the view of clergy, administrators and office holders.

The sooner these members of the church establishment can grasp the problem they face and begin to address, the sooner the faith can continue its long term growth.

 

Avatar of Jon Lindgren

About Jon Lindgren

I am a former President of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, ND, a retired NDSU economics professor and was Mayor of Fargo for 16 years. There is more about me at Wikipedia.com.
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71 Responses to Why Do People Go To Church?

  1. Henry says:

    “Why Do People Go To Church?”

    To get to the other side.

    Of course in response to faith.

    • Stan says:

      Nice one Henry :)

      Church is not just a building. I go for community. Lots of hugs exchanged each Mass.

      For many church is a lot like I found it for 50 years. Just like joining the JayCees or some other civic organization. Then I found people who were patient with me and taught me. I could have left any time so it wasn’t a brainwashing. But I finally gave myself to God and pushed the depression, ulcers and corrupting influences from my life.

      Now Church is a Celebration with friends. Like Christmas dinner every Sunday.

      • Wanna B Sure says:

        The communion of Saints.

        • Stan says:

          Amen, as I prepare for the Saturday Vigil with my children and friends. We also celebrate the confirmation of adults who have decided to join our church tonight. Double bonus.

        • entech says:

          Wanna. Does that imply that all church goers are Saints, or am I reading into it again. :razz:

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Entech; Do I detect an element of sarcasm and baiting?
            I will try to be as clear as possible; Not ALL church goers (in attendance) are Saints. Only the believers. (Consider the wheat and the tares). All that believe in the primary tenents of the Christian faith as defined by the three ecumenical creeds,( either specifically, or implied by different wording ). Whether young and even weak in the faith, or mature and strong in the faith. Included are those who died in the faith and those not yet dead, (“Greet the saints in Jerusalem”)

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            PS; It is not for us to decide which is, or is not a saint. “For by their fruits you shall know them”, is an indicator as to who may be, but not necessarily who is not. It is best to care for all, whether they are saints or not. Believer or not. A non-believer may become a believer and a saint in the future, as long as they don’t reject the Holy Spirit and it’s work. (The unpardonable sin). On the other hand, the offer declined by the individual does not qualify for being a saint, only a dead unrepentent sinner.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            PPS; Even those within Christianity that are in “error”, are not disqualified, as many “errors” are done with good intentions, but faulty information. This does not include outright heresy, and defiant rejection of the main tenents of historic Christianity. Not all who call themselves Christian then are indeed Christian. But we all within the Christian community hope and pray for them for a change of understanding.

          • entech says:

            There is not an “element” in what I said, there was an entire universe of sarcasm, painted thickly with a broad brush. The icon :razz: uses the word razz enclosed in colons ( with a space before and after) and says it all.
            The rest you have said before and i am very disappointed that you would respond to the “baiting”.

            I know that you said the ‘communion of Saints’ it is in the creed i recited every day (twice on Sunday) for all my school days, perhaps I should have been simply pedantic and said, Surely you meant the communion with Saints. You are starting to take yourself far too seriously, I think (for the little that that matters)

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Only understood what it appeared to be. I am not aware of the definition of your icon.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Entech; I think not that seriously, as it appears that many of non-faith who may be watching may not be aware of the definition of what a “saint” is, and I tried to be as clear as possible for their benefit.

          • entech says:

            Wanna 2:44. I think your posts clearly demonstrates a vanity that we share. Apart from the few that post how would we know how many watch or care what we say or think. On the other hand I write mainly for the fun of it and hopefully show that the firmly held views of the Christian could bear a little examination, you seem to right (sic) sub specie aeternitatis

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Oh, according to Jon, there are many who are in attendence that never comment, and evidently just observe. It is for the unknown that I may be sometimes overly ambitious.
            And like you, it is enjoyable, and I usually have the time.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Wanna 3:23 “..according to Jon, there are many who are in attendence that never comment, and evidently just observe.”

            So, do I read from this you disagree with my premise a large portion of church attendees just go if and when they find it enjoyable–and have no greater purpose?

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Jon; I’m sorry, I could have been more clear. This was in context as a response to Entech’s concern as to just how many people were in attendence on your blog site. Had nothing to do with church attendence. He seemed to think not that many were, but I remembered that you had at least implied that there were many. Over and out.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Jon; Re. your 3:53; Just a small point in response: “…find it enjoyable-and have no greater purpose”. I would not go that far, but those within the last trends of attracting people to go to church do appear to use an “entertainment” value/ attitude. I am concerned that this tends to be superficial, and the Law/Gospel message is lost in the mix.
            although this was not my point, it was good that you would consider it. Thanks

  2. Wanna B Sure says:

    Jon; your; ” Spending etenity in hell”, is all bass ackwards. For the Christian, spending eternity in heaven is the thought, not hell. “When two or more are gathered in my name, I am present”, is the main source of being active/ in attendence due to thankfulness , and joy in Christ. (Our response). Being in the presence of Him who saves us through faith. The Christian does not dwell on hell. That is a past issue. You have a severly distorted understanding on the subject of hell. I don’t know why you are you so preocupied with it, other than a mis-informed talking point.
    Those three points you named by the writer also reveal a shallow understanding of what “church” is about, and why one attends it. I would take issue with him, but not here.

  3. Bob says:

    And leave everyone else behind to burn in suffering pain for eternity, is sick. That is one of the sickest, most selfish philosophies ever. Sick, sick, sick, sick, sick.

    Keep your young male christ on a stick who only suffers for 3 lousy days and then only thinks of himself for 2000 years after he’s inherited all the power of creation and the universe, yet does nothing to help not even one molested child suffering right this minute, or starving child who has suffered for years.
    Sick, sick, sick, sick. And again, sick.

    • Wanna B Sure says:

      If I remember right, you don’t believe in eternity. Not your problem then.
      Your accusations of non-involvement with anyone in unfortunate situations are totally uninformed. By the way, what are you doing personally, or corporately to relieve the problem other than governmentally which you despise? Broad spectrum ejaculations on your part are meaningless.

      • Bob says:

        And still, I have a say about philosophies I find sick.
        I won’t live forever, but there will be people after me, indoctrinated young people in sick philosophies like christianity, islam, and others.
        I grow food in the garden in the summer and give it away like crazy, especially to those I know can’t afford it. And I volunteer like crazy, my whole family does.
        Unlike Jesus. What’s Jesus doing up there for 2000 years, enjoying the poor virgins with moohammed?
        Sick philosophies.

      • Stan says:

        Catholic Charities, help for all not determined by faith.

        Catholic hospitals…almost 20% of all in the US. 100% in some countries.

        Catholic elementary, middle, high schools and colleges….educating all who ask.

        You can get a lot of work done when you mass together. Don’t forget the individual volunteering both in faith areas and in secular.

  4. Stan says:

    Any Church which changes it’s beliefs to accommodate bringing in more attendees has compromised their faith. It has never been said to be easy or fair to walk with Christ. Just that the final awards will be Heavenly.

    • Wanna B Sure says:

      Yes. Marketing/ economic strategies has entered several churches, and have essentially lost the real reason for being. They use a business marketing model. This is also how Jon understands it. In some circles, it is called the church growth movement. It is doomed to fail in the long run. Already some have risen to the heights, and fell. Consider the Crystal Cathedral. Looks good to attract, but nothing substantial to hold them. Then the members are disalusioned, and go somewhere else more exciting or new.

    • Stan says:

      Cleanses, like persecution will, the one remaining. Look to the new martyrs or the middle east.

    • Bob says:

      How cruel, Stan 10:18. And how very sad.

    • entech says:

      Stan, would you include the Lutherans who deserted Catholicism for what they like to call catholicism in that statement.

      • Stan says:

        Entech, Baptized, raise and confirmed a Lutheran. “Joined” the Catholic church at 25 so it would be easier to marry a nice Catholic girl. I was not a Christian in either church by any means but I knew the game well enough to fool almost everybody here on earth. When that “good” Catholic girl decides to divorce me after 22 years it was believing friends in the Church who helped me out and saved my life.

        It took me 4 more years to come to Christ as a real believer. At that time I looked at leaving the Catholic Church and joining the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church or what is sometimes called Catholic Lite. On my third click or 4th) on the national website I found a statement that to paraphrase said, we are the true church because we aren’t Catholic. When you define yourself in those terms, not who you are but who you are not, you are in a weak position to start with. I stuck with the Catholic Church and even with my short time as a born again I have been suggested for a deaconship.

        Since I have left the Lutheran church I have also watch church after church divide and subdivide as they vote on theology, many of them who have never opened a Bible since confirmation. Families turn on families……doesn’t seem christian to me.

        • entech says:

          11:39 pm. maybe some Christ isn’t so bad? Here you go I agree to that.
          Unfortunately I also think that so much is bad, mainly from self declared/defined Christians who want to justify so many things I think are abhorrent – got to get this right, I do not find the things they declare as abhorrent, but that they use their beliefs to justify the hatred they display towards those things – homosexuality is one, there are many verified accounts of this in many different species – apparently even one insect species that is entirely female but the likelihood of pregnancy is enhanced where simulated copulation takes place, there is only one species that displays homophobia, one guess: male dominance to the degree expressed by some commentary on this site, pregnant in winter barefoot in summer is one way of expressing it, or why did the woman cross the road? wrong question, why did she leave the kitchen?: there are more but these are the most common and the most egregious.

          5:03 am When I was in my early twenties I used to have long conversations with a Scottish work mate, Scotland had, probably still has, a very strong divide between Catholic and Protestant at the extreme between the Knights of St. Columba and Freemasons, he was Roman Catholic and I was a bit of an enthusiastic atheist pinko (bit like Bob except my anarchism was more to the left) one thing I have never forgotten was when he said, “Regardless of what position you hold you should always be wary of Christians who attack other Christians“, same applies to politics I found, the most vicious opponents are the ones you think should be on the same side. A reason I avoid Atheist/Freethinker/Skeptic organisations is that they have elements of the same thing, “my version is the only correct one, all the rest are wrong (in error?)” and variations on that theme.
          Although the thought of fundamentalist/evangelicals getting to much influence frightens me, any one with strongly held views frightens me. (Yes Henry I have said this before and you did comment on this being one of my own strongly held views)

        • Wanna B Sure says:

          Stan; While it is true that virtually all denominations claim correctness of doctrine, I know of very few that claim others within the Christian community are not saved through faith in Christ risen, (on this easter Sunday). Even the Roman Catholic Church, (capital C) in it’s Council of Trent, (quoted extensively in the new catechism, and held authorative), says “No salvation out side of the Catholic Church” (Capital C,(” the only church instituted by Christ”). If you listen to EWTN, you will see the same sentement. Exclusivity is strong there too. The Pope Benedict 16 has softened some of the rehtoric, but Trent remains. If you had read farther, I see the LCMS site also says that there is salvation outside of the LCMS if the historical/orthodox faith is present. Thanks.

        • Wanna B Sure says:

          And even Christ said that he did not come to bring peace, but father against son , etc. etc. Those who bring division are the ones who wish to water down the essential message of what sin is, the necessity of forgiveness, and the historic faith taught there. (Sometimes forcing out those who wish to remain faithfull to that faith). On occasion there are times when the dissenters leave, other times the faithfull leave. Dissention is bad wherever it appears, and is divisive. Many people wish to have things “my way”, not His way.

          • entech says:

            Many people wish to have things “my way” wow, you sure do.

          • entech says:

            As opposed to people who don’t want it anyway. wow, I sure don’t.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            You missed the “his way”, strange.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            If you throw out the “His way”, you truly do want it your/”my” way.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Wanna 1:56 From what I can tell from your posts there is only one way, Wanna’s way. That falls from how you seem to see yourself as the reigning expert on what “His way” is.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            That’s about how I see it. I would rather argue with you than make excuses to “Him”.

          • entech says:

            1:54 hardly strange when I don’t think there is a “his way”
            1:56 as I say at 1:51 I don’t want it any way.
            I think your Trinitarian way is far too complicated and totally implausible, I have to think that a “good God” would be more direct, simple (as in uncomplicated), to make it difficult to believe, to place so many obstacles and so little evidence does make Marcion seem attractive. But in the final analysis Marcion is just as implausible and does add another layer of complication.

            It is already late Sunday Evening here and time for bed, had a chocolate egg from a neighbor and had to admire the symbolism, the egg is hollow.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            entech 2:13 “…the egg is hollow.”

            Profound, alive with meaning, no doubt. :)

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            As are all the pagan symbols inculturated alongside Christianity.

          • entech says:

            Ah, the famous last words, goodnight , choirs of angels guide me to my rest.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            With all your multi-layered aspects of philosophy, I would have thought you rather like complication.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Jon; Covered your 2:37 with my 2:18. Sorry.

          • entech says:

            Wanna. Taking a liberty with Willie boy (the English monk from Ockham) simplest is best and more likely to be true, complication is often for the sake of confusion rather than clarification (expecting some kind of devastating reply as that is reversed and aimed back)

            I am sure you invented “inculturated” , inculcated is probably a good word though, especially for something learned in childhood.
            Joke time – Local priest meets local child, local child has a box with new born kittens. Priest talks, child answers “These are Christian kittens” (could actually declare a specific sect or cult if required), couple of weeks later priest is with a friend and say watch what this lovely child has to say, this time the child says “these are atheist kittens”, but you said last week they were Christian, answer “that was before they opened their eyes” (answer could also be opposing sect or cult).

            Thinking about Easter eggs as metaphor before I went sleep and it occurred to me that all is not hollow, some are filled with mock cream, seemingly sweet and nice but ultimately not very satisfactory or real.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Entech; Oh my, doing a CYA .
            Inculturated is a common term used to define assimilation of old local customs into the new. It has happened in the Caribbian, and in Mexico in the area of religion. The result was a disaster due to the law of unintended consequences.
            The:” cream center” is a failed reach.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            I heard the kitten joke at least 60 yr. ago. at the time, it was between two major religions. About 20 yr. ago, the ones with the open eyes were former non-believers. There is a saying; “I kicked the slats out of my crib from laughing, the first time I heard it”.

          • entech says:

            For once I didn’t employ Mr.Google just an old dictionary, it just sounds such a clumsy word, but you can see it as valid when you read it from a religious view.
            Enculturation of course describes the way and extent to which I have become Australianised while still retaining a lot of the Limey.
            CYA = cover your (rear) anatomy ?

            Wouldn’t expect you to accept the creamy bits, but the “warm and fuzzy” is often reported as one of the benefits of churchgoing

          • entech says:

            Kittens, yeah it is pretty old, I first heard it as an Irish/Scottish joke on the Catholic/Protestant divide. Wouldn’t be surprised if I have used it before on this site.
            It is particularly humerous to an outsider that can’t really comprehend the reason for the divide and considers each side equally in error.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            The “warm fuzzies” would be evident in groups that lean toward the subjective. “Feel good theology” would be a paralell. Most evident in new age groups, such as the emergent church, and new age philosophies within some churches.

          • entech says:

            It is ALL subjective it is just that eating chocolate is more fun than hair shirts, sackcloth and ashes.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Those accoutrements are obsolete and unnecessary since the introduction of the New Covenent. In fact, we are told to clean up, and not make our remorse, sorrow, or whatever a show.

          • entech says:

            What! no chocolate rewards and no punishments?
            Only the promise of better things to come? Almost enough to make one consider that there must be some reason for so many members.
            Almost but not yet, as Augustine is supposed to have said about chastity.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Sounds like something to think about.

    • entech says:

      Good piece to read. Interesting that the critics from both sides say either he is not a real convert or he was never a real atheist. There we go again with individual and personal definitions of what is real and what is true. Reality and truth are independent of what you or I would like them to be or define them as, we could all be wrong.

      I guess some of the posters here wouldn’t accept him either because he says he thinks homosexuality is acceptable and when he is ordained he wants to lead a gay-affirming congregation.

  5. Doubtful says:

    Great comments. I may have to change my name to Wanna B Stan. :)

  6. Stan says:

    Doubtful. I didn’t come to Christ ignorant, I was late in the game. I came to him because there was no where else. The secular world had abandoned me.

    I will take that as a compliment, thank you.

    • Doubtful says:

      @Stan It was intended as a compliment to you and Wanna B Sure. At the time I wrote it all those other comments had not appeared yet.

  7. Bob says:

    All this holier than thou is making me sick, quick, I need a puke bag.

  8. Bob says:

    elitist? How so Stan 11:21 It’s not me claiming to know things I can’t possibly prove. Its not me telling you if you don’t think this way, or else, you are going to burn and suffer unimaginably forever.
    So how am I elitist?

  9. I go to church to praise and thank the Risen and Glorified Lord Jesus Christ!
    Also to remember the following which tells in brief what it means to be a true Christian:

    “When I say that I am a Christian I am not shouting that I am clean living. I am whispering that I was lost but now I’m found and forgiven.
    When I say I am a Christian I don’t speak of this with pride. I am confessing that I stumble and need Christ to be my guide.
    When I say that I am a Christian I am not trying to be strong. I am saying that I am weak and need His strength to carry on.
    When I say I am a Christian I am not bragging of success. I am admitting I have failed and need God to clean up my mess.
    When I say I am a Christian I am not claiming to be perfect. My flaws are far too visible but God believes I am worth it.
    When I say I am a Christian I still feel the sting of pain. I have my share of heartaches so I call upon His name.
    When I say I am a Christian I am not holier than thou..I am a sinner who recieved God’s grace…a free gift to those who accept it.
    Easter is Resurrection Day but…for a true Christian, EVERY DAY is Resurrection Day.
    I am so thankful.

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