“Why Go to Church?” by Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell (Guest Blogger)

Why Go to Church?

By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell

Scripture Readings: Hebrews 10

Key Verses: Hebrews 10:23-25

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.”

In the past, I sometimes thought that I would worship on my own, that I didn’t need to attend church, that worship was a “private” thing for me,  that I didn’t need to worship with others publicly. As a natural introvert, I was happy to be by myself, to do my own thing, to read and study on my own. I didn’t always understand why it was important to worship with others. Sometimes I didn’t want to go to church, wanted to stay at home or do something else.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, there was a time I “fell away” from going to church and now that I attend regularly, I sometimes grieve the loss of that time I could have spent in formal worship but didn’t. My relationship with God suffered at that time. When I stopped going to church, I didn’t study or read my Bible as often. I didn’t remember God in prayer as regularly. I didn’t contemplate the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross on a regular basis—not like I do every Sunday now, as we celebrate Holy Communion every week in our church.

So, why do I attend church? Here’s why:

–I think it’s important to “pray unceasingly” as the Apostle Paul said. It is a way that I can live in faith “without wavering.” Attending church helps me stay on course, to stay in contact with God. Even when I fall short of praying regularly, I have a habit of going to church every Sunday now. It’s a healthy spiritual habit that keeps me in contact with God.

–It’s Sabbath. We are commanded by God to keep the Sabbath and to keep it holy. I go to church because it’s Sabbath. It’s time spent with God. It’s a time for sanctification. I love the hymn that says, “take time to be holy…”—going to church and worshipping in a formal way is time to be holy. Our worship service includes prayer, praise, giving thanks, giving offerings and tithes, study of His word, spending time in His presence, remembering His sacrifice, prayers of intercession for others, giving and receiving spiritual nourishment.

–Gathering with other Christians on a regular basis is a way to develop relationships with others who share my faith. Before and after church and sometimes during the week, I am in relationship with other Christians with whom I have developed an intimate relationship where we share joy and sorrow, offer love and encouragement in the daily walk with Christ. We minister to each other.

I don’t go to church to be entertained, although often I am entertained. I often receive at church, but I don’t think it’s always about what I get out of it, but that it’s a habit of faith, a habit of steadfastness, a habit of assuring I take time to be with Him. It’s about being with others who share my faith and teach me and learn from me as we learn together about Jesus and His love for us. It’s about living that faith in support of each other. It’s about spiritual formation. It’s about sanctification. It’s about faith. It’s about obedience. It’s about relationship. It’s about LOVE.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for my church family. Thank you for an established time to get together with other believers in worship and mutual encouragement. It is an honor to be in your presence and to spend time with you. Thank you for your commandment to keep the Sabbath holy—it reminds me to stop, to listen, to be—to be in communion with you. Amen.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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