Even if you get absolutely nothing out of church…you should still go

Several conversations combined with my very active toddler have led me to spend some time thinking about his question:

“If we get nothing (and I mean absolutely nothing) out of going to church on Sundays, should we still go?”

What if the hassle of getting dressed up for church, and the bigger hassle of getting the kids ready for church, the driving to church, the sitting through “boring” services, and the biggest challenge…getting the kids to sit through “boring” service could be better spent:

  • having meaningful conversations about God?
  • enjoying God’s beautiful creation outside?
  • doing an interactive craft that relates to God?
  • serving the poor to teach charity?
  • visiting grandparents?
  • “living” the faith in the real world?

I’ll be honest…a lot of these sound good.  They sound like they actually might be more beneficial than going to church.  I will admit, I have actually thought this after leaving Mass completely exhausted and empty from trying to keep my little toddler behaved and quiet.

But…truly, the answer is….none of these options are more valuable than sitting through a “boring” mass in which you get nothing out of.

Why?

Because church/Mass is actually not about you. (shocking)

It’s not about entertainment, or good music, or interactive sermons.

It’s actually about having enough discipline to set aside some time for God and his universal church.  To celebrate and worship him in a community of people.  To learn how to love Him and serve Him even when we don’t feel like it’s benefiting us.

I’ve heard the common complaint from many fellow Christians that they can lead a better christian life without going to church, and that they “don’t get anything out of church anyways”.

This is an interesting idea to me.

Maybe it’s true…maybe they really don’t get anything out of it.

However, I think “going to church” on Sunday is more about the universal church and discipline and sacrifice than it is about “getting something“.

Maybe it’s actually about “giving something“. (weird concept, I know)

Maybe it’s good for us to give our time, attention, energy, and reverence.

I would argue that actually committing to going to church every Sunday, not just because it’s a commandment, but for the sake of learning what it means to be selfless and reverent is enough of a reason to go.

Our culture is not a supporter of discipline and reverence.

Sure, sometimes church is boring.

Sure, sometimes we are too busy keeping our kids quiet to pay attention.

Sure, sometimes it’s frustrating seeing other people also bored at church.

Sure, sometimes it’s discouraging seeing “hypocrites” playing big roles at church.

Sure, it sucks getting occasional looks from that “judgy lady” when you’re a few minutes late after the huge battle of even deciding to go to church.

Typically these reasons drive people away from the church.  We are driven away because we don’t feel “filled-up” and we see other imperfect people at church ( who are actually probably living the same battle we are).  Yet, we expect to go to church to be completely filled up and be surrounded by perfect people. Ha…

I think we can all learn a few things from this.

Instead of letting these things drive us away from practicing our faith…why doesn’t it lead us to a deeper conversation about the real “WHY” for going to church.

So WHY do we go to church after mentioning all of these common complaints?

Well, in my opinion…

  1. “Going to church” is not about us.
  2. It’s about learning how to prioritize weekly worship for God.  It’s about actually committing to something so important as our salvation…regardless of how convenient it is or how “filled-up” we feel.
  3. It’s about participating in a COMMUNITY of followers.  Regardless of whether or not you consider the other people at church to be “real” believers, or a “hypocritical pharisee” your commitment to being there is one of the greatest witnesses.  Your commitment to just being there can encourage the community and challenge the skeptics.  I think many of Jesus’ disciples are those guys that “just kept showing up”.
  4. It’s about reverence…maybe our kids don’t understand God yet (and I still don’t), and we think hushing them up for an hour is pointless….but if we’re doing our job as parents (living the faith at all times and being spiritual leaders at home) then they are actually learning how to be reverent for an hour.  Something that they may never learn anywhere else.
  5. It’s about “doing the work” even when you feel empty.  Mother Teresa talks about how she only felt the true love of God once in her life and the rest of her life was filled with despair and darkness.  The average onlooker would never know this about her. She is a perfect example of someone who did God’s work and commands because of real faith.  She kept “showing up”.  This is the type of faith that causes someone to do good when you get ABSOLUTELY no benefit.  Sometimes that’s what it may feel like when we are committed to going to church, but in those times…when we’re committed to doing the work of God (even when we don’t feel any benefit from it) we are actually never closer to Jesus at the foot of the cross…because that is when we are truly living with faith.

Guess what…

A funny thing might happen when you DECIDE and COMMIT that you are going to participate in church/mass every Sunday without out fail for the sake of our Lord and his universal church….

You might actually get something out of it… because you’ll realize that it’s not about you. 

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10 thoughts on “Even if you get absolutely nothing out of church…you should still go

  1. Wonderful post…thank you! After reading “The Lamb’s Supper” by Scott Hahn, Mass was never the same for me. Beautiful book that enlightens us to what we are a part of at Mass. God bless you:-)

  2. I had an “awful” Mass today…3 out of 4 boys were climbing all over the pew and being loud, while the quiet one said he was bored. I was having the same thoughts you expressed, especially that it is pointless to go when I don’t even get to hear the sermon, OR go to communion. Your post today was important for me to hear…I needed the reminder that Mass is not about me. Thank you!

  3. Word girl! What helps a bunch with a toddler is teaching them to whisper. And also teaching them to say no thank you when they’re upset. If they yell no thank you and whisper you get fewer ugly looks from the judgy ladies. 😀

  4. Love this one!!! Thanks for posting!!!! Though I would really say too that we need to be careful not to diminish the whole going to Church thing merely as an external obligation. In a sense, it is also “about me” in that through my Church attendance, I am building my relationship with the wider community of believers and more importantly with my God who wants to be in a friendship with me…

  5. I’m sorry but I don’t agree with this post at all. People SHOULD get something out of it. Going to church IS about setting time to worship the Lord and getting t together with other believers BUT we should be REALLY LEARNING something! If we’re not learning anything in church or getting a revelation of some sort, we are wasting our time. Point blank. God wants to HELP us. He WANTS our lives to CHANGE. If you’ve been going to the same church for 15 years and have gotten nothing out of it, something is seriously wrong. Something is wrong if people, not just children, but adults feel bored out of their mind during a sermon. It’s more than likely that pastor doesn’t belong on the pulpit!

    Going to church should not feel like an obligation, job or duty. It should be something someone WANTS to do. A church that does not change it’s members lives is a dead church. We are supposed to evolve internally and externally and if the place you’re going to now hasn’t helped at all, then LEAVE. In the end, there should be a POINT of your attendance. The author says it’s not about us but it IS. The Lord needs us to trust in His divine grace to get us together so we can help others receive His grace. Posts like this are not going to help really messed up people in dire need of the true gospel. So many drug addicts, sex addicts, alcoholics, mentally disorderd etc. need REAL HELP and would be wasting precious time at a lifeless church.

    God would rather us watch people on tv who who preach the Word and actually develop spiritually than to go to a lifeless church, remaining stagnant in our development. I suggest the author of this post and anyone else who reads this comment to check out Joseph Prince & Leon Fontaine on the internet or TBN. Keep listening to them. The WILL help you.

    1. The point of attendance at Mass is to worship God and receive His precious body and blood as instructed to us in the Bible. Although we may be inspired by being entertained or taught by gifted speakers,, you cannot receive Him fully by any other way than personally being present to physically and spiritually receive Him.

    2. Kendall, you are right on. Thank you and I absolutely agree with you. Going to church should not have all the appeal of paying your taxes or something you dread or go to “get it over with.” It is about YOU and your connecting with God. Most churches today are either financial institutions or social clubs. They do not make an effort to attend to the needs of their members, are cliquish, unfriendly to potential members or offer nothing except church services (Mass). If people are not having their spiritual needs met, they will not go, and no amount of forcing yourself to go will make any difference. The late Lenny Bruce stated “people are leaving the churches . . . and getting back to God.”

  6. Yeah, Mass is an obligation, that’s why I go. It’s not about us, that’s true. It’s about what happens there, about the sacrifice, about giving something back to God.
    I just go, sit there and wait till it’s over. I don’t like the boring, depressing music or anything, I hate singing (but to be honest; nobody in our parish sings, only the quire does). So if it’s about me again after mass, and I feel the need to be inspired or touched, i go look somewhere else. Read a spiritual book or spent some personal prayer time with God.
    If friends ask me why I still go, even though I get absolutely nothing out of it, i always compare it to visiting a demented grandmother: you don’t go because you enjoy visiting her, or because you get something out of it. You do it because you feel it’s a moral obligation. You hear the same stories, talks and responses every time, just like in church. Nothing changes, same old song and dance.
    And there’s a good chance that grandmother enjoys listening to depressing, heavy sounding organ music on the radio. Also then, remember, you’re there for her, not for you. You don’t change her music because it’s not your taste.
    Same thing with God and mass.

    1. I still stand by what I said. You can spend time with God AT HOME. I’d rather praise and worship him at home than go to a dead church with a minister that’s unable to deliver any messages that feed my spirit. This is why outsiders have no interest in developing a relationship with God…. because a majority of these churches are BORING. Going to church should have an impact on your life. Otherwise you’re attending the wrong church. Watch Joseph Prince, Crefflo Dollar, Leon Fontaine etc. These are examples of people whose messages have LIFE in them & will awaken you spiritually & after a while, your life will change for the better.

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