April 7, 2014 § 2 Comments
I have a friend who goes to church every Sunday but doesn’t believe in God. He goes because it’s his community.
The weird thing? I have a hunch that this is not uncommon. I wonder how many suburban dads go to church because they have Fantasy Baseball friends there, or how many old ladies go to church because it’s their only social outing for the week.
I’ve heard so many times that people can’t get behind church because they don’t believe in all that. (And sometimes the “that” is God, and sometimes it’s “Jesus” and sometimes it’s “judgement”.) And it’s hard to tell people that it can be so much more than dogma, mostly because you start to sound like an Amway salesperson.
In college I attended House of Mercy, and I loved it. But I didn’t know why, so I sat down and wrote the reasons why I was going to church. Guess what? None of them had to do with my beliefs. The first one was because I really liked the people. And because there was a certain group of friends who would get together for pizza, homemade chocolate chip cookies, and indie movies every Sunday. Also, I really loved the music.
And at one point in my surly college years when I knew everything (and I mean everything) and I’d go home to my parents’ church and get so upset by the sermon or something, I’d ask my dad how he could still be going there. He responded, “because it’s my family.” And he knew if anything happened, they would take care of him. I believe it.
At the time, I thought how nice. How nice for my dad. But the longer I went to a church, I felt it to be true (and saw it to be true more than once in church goers who experienced crisis and trauma). And oddly, my beliefs have been formed out of experience. I believe in forgiveness and redemption. I believe in generosity. I believe in grace. I believe in faith. I believe all of this because I’ve seen it. Church means having a community. It means we have a bunch of people who love us, who will care for us, and will even let us sob uncontrollably.
That’s church to me. Not rules. Not dogma. Not doctrine. It’s community. It’s a place where you know you’re loved more than you can possibly imagine. That you’re loved no matter what.