IDEMA: Why go to church?

Oct 1, 2011


This repeated experience has led me to ask this question: “Why should anybody go to church?” 

I do not believe God is some narcissistic idol who demands our repeated adoration. So the focus here should be the relation between the church and its parishioners.

The best place to start is by examining what needs are satisfied by church attendance.

Here is a brief list:

(1) A church offers community. One of the most wonderful aspects of church life is that a person associates with people they might not associate with in any other place; e.g., people of a different race or economic background, people with more or less education than you have. In some churches, people can be openly gay, and for some that might be enlightening if not broadening. But what if the church has no sense of community? Why then go?

(2) A church offers youth programs, Sunday school and adult education — the kind you will not get elsewhere. But what if the education is lousy? What if there is no youth group? Why then go?

(3) A church offers worship, music and sermons. You cannot get that combination elsewhere. But what if the worship is cold, the music is awful and the hymns are drab, and what if the sermons are boring? Why then go?

(4) The church offers opportunities for outreach. Some churches have food pantries and thrift shops, some offer hot meals and shelter, most visit the elderly and lonely. But if the church offers no outreach and has no social conscience, why go?

(5) The church tackles the moral issues of the day; e.g., poverty, hunger, war, debt, addictions, mental illness, etc. But what if the sermons never apply the Bible to what we are struggling with as individuals, families and as a nation? Why go?

I would hazard a guess that any of us could come up with reasons not to attend church. But are our reasons “good reasons” or bad excuses?

— By the Rev. Henry Idema, Tribune Religion Columnist



Many in West Michigan do not go to church because they do not believe in god. Some believe in (a) god but do not need organized religion to fulfill their spirituality. Some who believe in god and organized religion may feel like the evangelical message put forth by some local churches is tainted by allegiance wars, intolerance and divisiveness.


You hit the nail on the head sobe....thank you!

Gregg Doolittle

I appreciate what Rev. Idema is trying to do, but I think he has downplayed the most compelling reason for church attendance and that is God himself. After all, if a person is simply looking for companionship and an opportunity to serve others he might just as well join the Rotary Club or one of the other service organizations that can be found in Grand Haven. But most churches claim to be more than that. They claim to offer us an opportunity to encounter God himself, through his Word or his Spirit or his people. And if there really is a divine being who had the power and wisdom to create this world and all of its inhabitants, then this is an opportunity that should not be missed. And if the church you happen to visit succeeds in introducing you to the God who made this world, then you will undoubtedly gain some friends, grow in your understanding, find opportunities to serve others. However that should not be your motivation. What should motivate you is the desire to draw closer to the one who made you, redeemed you, and desires the best for you. It's more like a love affair than a business transaction. So if I were asked the question, "Why should I go to church?" I would answer, "Because he is worthy of my love".


Totally agree, thanks Gregg! But what's wrong with a PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD as it states in the bible? That is all you have to do to become a i right? It's personal, between me and my Lord and Savior. I speak with God everyday! Does he answer...not sure? But...a lot of what I do and say in a day, has a lot with what I think God might be telling me what to say/believe. I am so tired of attending a worship service focusing on the "new christian" who might or want to be spoon fed the bible. For those who have been believers almost all their lives this is not what I am looking for in a church service. I have been to countless Billy Graham there was/is a man. Who remembers Cliff Barrows, George Beverly Shea, Tedd Smith and Ethel Waters? The old hymns, Great is they Faithfulness...Blessed Assurance? Please, I have a personal relationship with God, and you can't tell me it's wrong because it is between me and my Lord. How can you dispute that? My relationship with the Lord...I can't get you into heaven and visa verca? It's you really need church if you already have a relationship and believe it is...with God? That is why I don't go to church.


> reffer to Imagine, by John Lennon


Rev. Henry Idema mentions the Bible in this column: "But what if the sermons never apply the Bible to what we are struggling with as individuals, families and as a nation? Why go?"
I would like to know what scriptures he could reference that support this comment : "I do not believe God is some narcissistic idol who demands our repeated adoration. So the focus here should be the relation between the church and its parishioners."

This is why the general state of the church is the way it is today. We have leaders who are misrepresenting the Word of God, distorting the truth with lies.


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