Saturday, June 1, 2019

Why do people go to church?

Why do people go to church? 

Fewer and fewer people go to church these days especially in mainline religions in the U.S. and Europe. Church Attendance is down.

Tomorrow this Sunday and I have not gone to church the last few weeks and I am considering whether I will go to church tomorrow.

Perhaps, I should do a qualitive research project and ask people why they come to church. What are my hypotheses?

I would guess that most people come to church for the fellowship. Some might say they come for a connection with the transcendent which is what church represents. Some might say that they come for comfort, for inspiration, for validation, for support.

Why do I go? I think I go for the validation of shared values. To be a part of a group with shared vision, mission, beliefs and values.

It is important for a church to have leadership that facilitates the development of organizational structures, values, policies, and practices that meet congregants expectations, and preferences, and maybe helps them grow a little outside their comfort zone.

This kind of leadership requires resources, knowledge, skills, energy, enthusiasm bordering on passion. All the members of the congregation are leaders in some way and yet the professional staff have a special responsibility to be the steward of the vision, the catalyst that brings disparate ideas and efforts together, the orchestra conductor of sorts so that the congregation, the church community, can work together harmoniously in the pursuit of common goals. I don't know how a pastor does this effectively without strong lay leadership as well. Some people are good administrators who oversee the efficient functioning of the status quo, and some people are visionaries with energy and committment to the development and actualization of a vibrant and viable future.

For some reason, I do not see a lot of visionary leadership around in the UU world, but maybe I am looking in the wrong places. Where are the UU prophets, the UU missionaries, should I say the UU martyrs? They are a part of our past, our heritage, but I do not see them in our current landscape except in isolated instances.

Should I keep going to church hoping - hoping that the leadership I can get excited about will emerge. My mother used to tell me when I was a boy, "David, you have no right to criticize unless you can do it better." I have spent most of my 73 years on this planet muttering to myself, "I know I could do it better. I know I could do it better." But alas, there is only so much I can do and so I look to others - where are you?

Having looked to others I realize this is evading my responsibility to become my better self and stop blaming others for whatever ennui I feel. Church is what I want to make it. I think I will go tomorrow and see if there is someone there I can connect with. Jesus said, "Where two or more are gathered in my name, there I will be."

Well, if Jesus is going to be there, I think I will go and see if I can find Him.

1 comment:

  1. I didn't go to church today. It is cold, rainy, and damp here and I woke up in the middle of the night at 2:55 AM and didn't get back to sleep until about 4:00 AM. When it was time to get up I decided to stay in bed and do what I love best - slumber.

    Slumbering is one of the greatest joys in my life at this point and as much as I am embarassed to admit it was preferable this morning to going to church.

    It dawned on me that I would have gotten up and gone if there was something for me to do there. But there being no reason to go because I had nothing to do there, no little job, or people to meet with, it was easier to just stay in bed.

    If I am to return to church, I need to find something to get involved in, some small community, committee, activity, etc.

    The other side of the coin is that I don't think my absence was missed. It seems like nobody really cares whether I do to church or not so why bother? Slumbering has become my new form of church. :-)


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