Does Church Matter?

I have to be honest; church has not always mattered to me:

  • As a teenager church did not matter much when it came to my dating life, unless there was a pretty girl in the youth group. Amy was and still is a pretty girl, but she was not in my youth group.
  • Church did not matter as much as my first car – a 1969 Ford Mustang Fastback that I bought for a $1,000 and added an 8-track tape player so that I could listen to my Marvin Gaye tapes. (see previous point)
  • Church did not matter in terms of the clothes I wore. Can you just imagine what the Baptist fashion scene was like in the early 80’s?
  • Church did not matter when something better came along and my car was drivable (see second point).

Even though I am a pastor, and more to the point I am the pastor of this great congregation, I must confess that church has not always mattered to me. Somewhere along my “growing up” church began to matter. Church mattered when I realized that life is more than pretty girls, cars, and yes, the music of Marvin Gaye. Church mattered when I began searching for meaning. Church mattered when I knew I wanted to make a difference in the world. Church mattered when I needed transcendence and mystery. Church mattered when I discovered relationships that would change my life for the rest of my life. I still believe deeply that church does matter.

Does church matter to you? I would assume it does or you would not be reading this blog. Yet for a great many church does not matter, or does not matter that much. We have seen the trends with our own eyes and read the data that church growth in our own country is not keeping up with growth in the population. Not only are younger people leaving the church once they leave home and head out for college or careers, but many are not even raised in the church. Even members that we consider active are stretched thin when church becomes just event in an already overscheduled calendar.

I think the response to those for whom church does not matter is not to counter with a clever argument, but to articulate a story, a life narrative of why it matters to you. If it matters to you, why? What those outside the church need to hear and see is a compelling, life changing reason why, not a diatribe based on guilt.

For the month of August I am asking the members of FBC Augusta to help me preach the sermons focused on the theme: Does Church Matter? I will explore four popular reasons some give for saying church does not matter: 1) Church is full of Hypocrites, 2) My Life is a Mess, 3) It is Boring, and 4) I am not into Organized Religion. Believe me, I empathize and understand all four reasons and can easily add several more to the list.

If someone were to ask you why does church matter to you, what would you tell them? What is your story?

Does church matter? I have given my life to the church because I believe it does matter. The church founded on Jesus the Savior helps me see beyond my self and discover what most truly matters. If it matters to you then join me not just every Sunday, but especially for August celebrating why church matters.

Thank you for mattering to me,

Greg

2 Comments

  1. Admittedly this is the first time I’ve ventured into your blog but your question has made me want to try the waters. Both Dean and I were raised at FBC from cradle to marriage alter. We were very active in the youth group and found our identity among our friends and the common reason for gathering, a love of Jesus. It was our comfort zone.

    After two years of marriage we moved to the big city of Atlanta due to Dean’s job. It was like jumping from the pan into the fire for us because we had lived such “sheltered” lives back home. Working in a big corporate office, I felt like I was in Sodom and Gamorah when I would hear all the stories that co workers related and I felt very naive.

    Once settled, we sought out a church similar to what we had always known. Briarlake Baptist became our refuge. We made the dearest friends and experienced the greatest spiritual growth individually and together. Moving away from home and spreading our wings was the best thing for our marriage and our spiritual life because we learned to depend on God first and each other. We started to live and grow our own personal faith instead of just relying on our parent’s faith. This was especially true when we made our first steps into the restaurant business. And they were truely our mission field…employees and customers.

    So does church matter? You bet!! It’s more than the ministers, the people, the ministries and activities. For me it’s more about how I can hear the Lord speak to me thru it all. Whether it’s the loving support during the loss of loved ones or the joy and celebration w/ the arrival of two little girls…the lifelong friendships developed and treasured or the joy of seeing young ones taught in VBS go to college…the demanding schedule of our girls’ church activities or our comitments as well. It’s all good! And if I can help to make the church some sort of refuge for someone else..well then I’m doing myself and someone else some good.

  2. Greg, I appreciate your thoughtful comments. Church matters to me for so many reasons, not the least of which was the way church gathered round me and my family at the time of my Dad’s death last week. As I was reflecting on his life, I found a great similarity in his life and mine that helps explore why church matters. He sang in the church choir as long as he could sing, and he found in that music of worship a connection to God, the transcendent, the mysterious, like nothing else in his life. I too find that joining my voices with others in the choir, centering and focusing our full attention on this inexplicable thing called worship, is one of the things that anchors my life and keeps me from just drifting away into meaningless idle pursuits. When my children were little there was a song we used to sing and listen to by John McCutcheon in which the chorus line goes “Everybody needs something bigger than themselves.” (the song is “Bigger than Yourself”) How true. Church does that for me.

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