Four Reasons to Return to Church

Woman is sitting in a church and praying.
Steave Gipson is pastor at the Church of Christ of Exeter.

1. You are lonelier than anyone has ever had to be. According to a 2023 report by the Department of Health and Human services, people aged 15-24 are spending 70% less time with people compared to twenty years ago. For the rest of us, it’s not much better. Loneliness is at epidemic levels in the Western world. According to this report, the average effect of loneliness on a US citizen is the equivalent of fifteen cigarettes per day. During the pandemic, churches were the most-locked-down part of the country but also, crucially, the place where many Americans made deep, personal connections.

2. You are needed. Although it is counter-intuitive, helping others is the most effective way to help yourself. We have been programmed by society to be consumers. Buy more, earn more, spend more. It gets us nowhere but deeper in debt and constantly thinking about ourselves and what’s wrong with us. God built you to be in service to others. There are needs in the body of Christ (the Church) that only you can fill. There are people who need your voice, your face, and your life experience. The more you try to fill your life, the emptier it will become. “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you,” (Matthew 6:33).

3. It’s a place to give and receive grace. Most of the time someone tells me why they quit going to church, it’s because of something hurtful someone said or did. We have all been there. The Bible says that when this happens, we are to confront the offender, “speaking the truth in love,” (Ephesians 4:15). The church must be a place of kindness and gentleness. Rude brothers and sisters need grace and instruction as much as anyone. We can model and teach kindness in how we talk to them about their words and actions. Without your loving intervention, those same people might push others away from Christ.

4. It is necessary for your spiritual health and salvation. The body of Christ is not just the man hung on the cross; it is the assembly of those who gather in His name to worship Him. The New Testament often speaks of being “in the body” of Christ. That’s simply not possible to do if you are not gathering with other believers. Blowing off worship is a slow death because, of course, God does not judge us based on our attendance. However, Hebrews 10:24-27 says, “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.”

It’s no coincidence that the world has gone mad while church attendance has dropped to record lows. There is nothing more important that you can do for yourself, your family, your town, and your nation than meeting with other Christians to worship God.

I hope to see you this Sunday.

Prays Together is a rotating faith-based commentary and advice column among the pastors of the First Presbyterian Church of Exeter, Church of Christ of Exeter, Nazarene Church of Exeter, Church of God of Exeter, the New Life Assembly of God and Rocky Hill Community Church as well as the Lemon Cove Community Church.

This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Sun-Gazette newspaper.

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