By most standards, my local church is a large–dare I say, megachurch. A couple thousand people fill the seats every week. My wife and I have been attending for about three years, before they moved out of the high school and into their exclusive space.
Occasionally, I ask my wife what I believe to be deep, introspective questions, like, “Why do we go to church?” She usually rolls her eyes, uninterested in entertaining my squinty-eyed search into her soul. But sometimes she answers. Sometimes I answer first just to get things going. Here’s what I think to be true:
We typically go to church for one of two reasons: Habit and friends.
I was raised in the Catholic Church. My wife was raised in a Southern Californian, non-denominational Protestant church. We attend our current non-denominational church every Sunday partly because that’s just what we do.
We also go to church because, thanks to a few small groups we got involved in early on, we’ve made some friends who we enjoy seeing. And if I’m being honest, I like being recognized by other people in the church. I think it makes me feel important to some degree. I belong. I’m vested. I’m noticeable. I’m a part of something bigger than myself, and for better or worse, that makes me feel good.
But that’s not the point of church. The point of church is to provide believers with a community in which they can worship and glorify God. It is a place where we can identify and develop our spiritual gifts. It is an environment in which we can encourage and love one another, and compassionately hold our members accountable to God’s commands.
I’m not saying it’s wrong to make friends at church. Certainly, that will likely happen naturally as we encourage and challenge one another. Rather, my encouragement to you (and myself) is that we would maintain a healthy perspective; one in which we acknowledge that while human relationships are important, we are ultimately living to glorify God, and no human relationship should be permitted to have a higher place in our heart that our bond with Christ.