<>< Have you ever asked yourself that question – Why am I going to church? <>< I just discovered a new book by Constance Cherry that I can’t stop reading … and absorbing! It’s called, “The Worship Architect,” and it attempts to lay out a “blueprint” for conducting worship services in the 21st century that are both biblically credible and allow for a personal spiritual encounter with God by those attending.  We have been talking a lot lately about those very issues here at Vine Street. Our Worship Team meets every Tuesday morning and our main goal is to be led by the Holy Spirit in designing the week’s worship service, and not merely following our own personal preferences and biases. As Constance Cherry says, “worship is a God-instituted gift to the church” and should be, “above all … to God, with God, and for God”  Therefore, the single most important purpose of worship planning is to “discover God’s expectations” for the church service. That is why our Worship Team talks a lot about the desires and needs of the Holy Spirit for our church service, and why we pray a lot to be led by the Holy Spirit. But I wonder about you. Why do you come to church? Perhaps you haven’t even thought about coming to church to worship. Many people don’t, you know. There are many good reasons for a person to come to church on Sunday other than to have a personal encounter with the living God. Here are some of the reasons for coming to church that Cherry cites in her book:

  • To feel better
  • To be with people whose company I enjoy
  • To learn about Jesus
  • To show which side I’m on
  • To keep people from asking why I missed
  • To sing my favorite old hymns
  • To be inspired, taught, and challenged by the sermon

None of those are necessarily bad or wrong reasons to come to church. But do you really think that is why God has given us this great gift of worship each week, on the Lord’s day, in the Lord’s house? I agree with Cherry that going to church should be about having a personal spiritual experience with God. As she notes, that’s a whole lot different than just going to church. “Going to church” sounds more passive than “coming to worship.”  Here is what Cherry says about worship – see if you feel the same way: “When I worship, I expose myself to the power of God without any personal control over the outcome. Sometimes it brings healing, peace, forgiveness, confrontation, or hope. Always it calls me to move beyond the farthest point I have yet reached, and pushed me into uncharted territories. Going to church is easy most days. Worship is another matter. It is an awesome thing to know oneself fallen into the hands of the living God.”  So, this Sunday, when you wake up and start getting ready for church, ask yourself, “Am I going to church today, or am I coming to worship?” In peace & grace,  Pastor <>< Bob