O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.
A friend of mine sent me a post this week in which a pastor in Oregon put together a list of ten reasons to join a church – It is concise, full of salty language, and really gets to the heart of what it means to be the church in the world today. I haven’t been able to get his list out of my head precisely because so much of what we do as a church is done simply because it’s what we do. That is, we do the work of church without often thinking about why we do that work.
Which is all just another way of saying: “Why would we ever bother to invite someone to church if we, ourselves, don’t really know why we go in the first place?”
So, while caught up in this theological and ecclesiological framework, I decided to put together my own list of ten reasons to consider joining a church. (Feel free to use the list as you see fit)
- The church is a place of profound vulnerability in which rejoicing with those who rejoice and weeping with those who weep isn’t a slogan – it is a practice.
- The church is the proclamation that the powers and principalities of this world do not have the final word about who we are and whose we are.
- The church is a new time through which our lives are structured around the movements of the Spirit rather than the exhausting rat race of life.
- The church is an opportunity to have our finances and our gifts shifted to support people whom we might otherwise ignore even though they are our neighbors (literally and figuratively).
- The church is gathering in which all of our unique identities/gifts/graces can be used for the betterment of creation rather than its destruction.
- The church is the last vestige of a place where we willfully gather together with people who don’t think like us, look like us, vote like us, earn like us, etc. and is therefore a remarkable opportunity for real community.
- The church is a gift of a new past in which our mistakes are healed through what we call forgiveness.
- The church is a gift of a new future in which the fear of death is destroyed through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
- The church is a gift of a new present, a way of life, made possible by Easter in which our practices/habits/liturgies shape us into an alternative society.
- The church is a never-ending source of Good News for a world that is drowning in bad news.