Summary: This message answers he question, why go to church?
July 19, 2015
Why Go to Church?
Opening Words: William Temple once said, “Worship is quickening the conscience by the holiness of God, feeding the mind with the truth of God, purging the imagination by the beauty of God, opening the heart to the love of God, and devoting the will to the purpose of God.“ I hope you remember that quote, because it acts as perfect background for this evening’s text.
We are instructed today from the Old Testament. We are in the book of Isaiah. The name Isaiah means “The Lord Saves.” He began his ministry about the year 740 B.C., which makes him a contemporary of Amos, Hosea and Micah. He lived in politically stormy times. The Assyrian Empire was expanding; Israel was declining. Maybe that is why the people are hungry for God. The major themes of this book are judgment and salvation. Our scripture reading is Isaiah 6:1-8. Let me call this message Why Go to Church?
Isaiah 6:1-8 1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another:
"Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory."
4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
5 "Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty."
6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, "See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for."
8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?"
And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"
I love this story. One Sunday morning King Louis XIV of France, who held the throne in the 17th century, went to church with his attendants. When they arrived they discovered they were the only ones present. He looked at the court preacher, Francois Fenelon, and asked, “What does this mean?” Fenelon replied, "I had published that you would not come to church today, in order that your Majesty might see who serves God in truth and who simply wants to flatter the king." How many people do you know who go to church for the wrong reason? How many people do you know who don’t go to church at all?
The statistics really are shocking. The church is becoming less influential all the time. Consider these facts with me:
*In 1924, fifty percent of all mothers wished their children would develop a loyalty to a local church. Today, only 22% of mothers long for their children to be loyal to a local church.
*In our time, only 44% of all Americans go to church regularly. That makes us number eleven on the list of Christian nations. The Christian nation with the highest percentage of regular worshippers is Nigeria at 89%. Ireland is second at 84%. Mexico is number ten at 45%. Maybe that is one of the reasons our society has so many problems?
*Even people who say they go to church regularly really don’t. Forty-eight percent of all self-proclaimed worshippers attend only one worship service per month. We have redefined “regular” worship here.
The question is begging to be asked. Why don’t people go to church?
Willow Creek conducted a survey and asked the question, why don’t you go to church? These are the five main most common reasons:
1. Church is boring.
2. Church is irrelevant.
3. Churches are always asking for money.
4. They are too busy to go to church.
5. Church makes people feel uncomfortable.
Let me respond to those five things by making two comments.
1. Church can be boring. The talking head behind the pulpit and music that was popular in the 1800s can’t compete with modern high tech entertainment. We are the Amish of the 21st century.
2. Church can be ugly. How many “church victims” do you know? How many good people have been burned in some ugly church conflict?
So with this in mind, let me ask you the question of the morning: why go to church? I know I am preaching to the choir. If you come to church on a Sunday morning in July, then you are really faithful to this church. We could compile a long list of why people go to church. However, I don’t have time to look at them all; I only have time to look at three. These three things are unique to the life of the church. You will not find these three things anywhere else in society. You will not find these three things in your golf league, walking in the woods or in your second cup of coffee. You will only find these three things by going to church. Each one is illustrated for us in our scripture lesson. This is what Isaiah teaches us. We go to church to experience God. We go to church is to hear the truth. We go to church to discover a purpose for our lives.