“Why go to church on Sunday?”
This is a question that ministers are asking themselves a lot these days in all denominations across the developed world.
There is good science available that shows that church attendance is down from its high participation rates after WWII, to its present low water mark that has ministers scratching their heads.
At the same time, there is good science that shows that people are considering spiritual matters, they are simply doing it away from churches. People often consider themselves “spiritual but not religious.” Why is that?
I would say, “Take a look around!”
Every store is open to shopping on Sunday now; in fact there are usually big sales to draw folks in. Kids are playing baseball, soccer, Kumon studies, dance lessons, not to mention the NFL, the NBA, MLB, even NASCAR, movie channels– all on Sunday mornings now. And if you really want to stay informed, there are countless ‘news’ shows on to fill one’s head with a good dose of ‘Ain’t it awful!’ to start our week of with. Is doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that there is a lot going on Sunday mornings that compete with going to church.
So…why go to church? Especially when so many already believe in that whole ‘God thing’?’
First…churches need to up their game. I do not believe people are looking to be beat up by scripture for their humanity. And yes, there is evil in the world- but can we just accept that it is humanity and not a ‘devil’ that are the problem…and that we are the cure? That we must be the Second Coming or we shall face extinction as a species? Congregations are now deep thinkers with the gift of reason. It is important that we not insult their intelligence with simplistic 16th century explanations for the way the world works and instead offer something deeper that has reason with in it.
Second…can we recognize that the scientific method does not contain all of the answers to Life? We know a lot of stuff about a lot of things, it’s true. What was once miraculous now has a scientific explanation for many phenomena in life. And yet, how do we explain the ‘placebo effect?’ How is it that people heal from diseases that science said was incurable? Haven’t we all witnessed or experienced a healing where science said there was none to be found?
What is Love, Beauty, and Universal Truth? What holds an atom together? Does it really take 11 dimensions to make the Unified Field Theory to hold together? Why do I feel connected to others in Love? What is consciousness? Why does it appear to exist beyond biology? What is thought? Where does it go? Why am I here? Why do I matter? What is consciousness beyond biology?
The answers to such questions are not going to be answered watching the Seahawk game (though I like to think it can affect the outcome… Go ‘Hawks!)
For me the answers are pretty simple:
Folks are working hard and they’re tired. Sunday and not Saturday has become a day of rest.
Folks have fallen out of the habit of going to church; or never established the habit.
Folks do not feel ‘fed’ by their church experience.
Folks don’t want to have ‘the nick’ put on them for money.
What this means to me is what Rev. Gary Simmons has written about; “People are looking to be transformed by the experience of spiritual community”. Transformed. Period. (Rev. Gary Simmon’s teachings and ground-breaking Integral Model of Ministry are transforming church organizations.)
As a Pastor I need to give folks a good reason to be here. Not because they should be. Not because that have to be. Not because they believe in a God that can keep them safe (words by poet David Whyte). But, rather because people recognize that they have been transformed by the renewing of their minds by participating with and ultimately committing themselves to spiritual community.
I started going to church because I needed a deep change in my thinking that allowed me to integrate Spirit in my Life. And, …”I was spiritual but not religious”. I had been “religious” – just didn’t work for me any longer.
I started going to church because I came to see that the start of my work week was Sunday. I saw that I was a better business man, sweetheart, friend, human being when I began my week with Spirit in mind.
I needed to be around open-hearted people who mostly experienced the world as I generally did. Free thinkers like myself who allowed me to explore ‘spiritual but not religious’ free of expectations or indoctrination.
I need to be with other folks that honored all faith traditions; to see that there are many paths up the same mountain. I learned the Lord Buddha taught that man acts out of ignorance, that the Lord Jesus taught that there is no ‘sin’ that cannot be transformed through the act of Love.
In time I came to see that I had completely transformed my life by accepting that I AM 100% responsible for the way I express my life and my experience of that life. That in putting Spirit first I learned to love my neighbor as myself and in turned unleashed the Infinite Creative Power of the Universe Itself to express as my Life. I have been transformed by the renewing of my mind by aligning myself with the One Mind of Spirit expressing as all.
Here at the Center for Spiritual Living in Granada Hills, I know this potential for all peoples, first time visitors, long time members, and everyone in between.
Perhaps, like I once was, you are “spiritual but not religious?”
Why not ‘Treat yourself to Life’? Start your week and this New Year out right by attending Church this Sunday.
Know that you are MOST WELCOME here! If you make it to our place, make sure you say hello. I’m expectantly awaiting your visit with Joy and Love.
Knowing for you and yours, a Happy, Joyous, and Wildly Prosperous 2016!
Photo by Kelly B on Flickr. Some Rights Reserved.