Why do we go to church?
Seems like a simple question. One that kids like to ask a lot. I’ve heard parents and Sunday school teachers and pastors give all kinds of answers. “We are here to worship God.” “We are here to learn about God.” “We are here to learn how to be better Christians.”
In my last church, during our kids church time, we have a short liturgy we go through with the kids each week. Our worship leader would ask, “Who are you?” and the kids reply, “I am a child of God.” Then he’d say, “Who are we?” and they’d reply, “We are the body of Christ.” And to end, he’d ask, “Why are we here?”
So, why are we here?
If individually we are children of God and collectively we are the body of Christ, why do we gather on Sunday mornings, Wednesday nights, or any other time in the week for “church”? What is the purpose of our gathering?
If we go to Acts 2:42, we get a really cool picture of what the “first church” looked like through these four activities.
- Devoted to the Apostle’s Teachings – Keep in mind, there really wasn’t a “Bible” yet so when the early church gathered, what they heard shared was the teachings from the disciples; stories from when they walked with Christ and words of encouragement and teaching from the apostles themselves.
- To fellowship – Yes, they used that word back then too!! In this case, it is more literally referring to “community” or “joint participation” not so much coffee hour, donuts and time with friends.
- To the breaking of bread – It is generally believed that the breaking of bread here refers to communion, which interestingly is the same word as the one used for fellowship above. It’s the idea of the body of Christ being one, participating in one holy communion and united by one Holy Spirit.
- To prayer – The people of the early church gathered to talk to God and listen to God together. That was part of what “church” looked like for them as they came together as the body of Christ.
Lots of similarities to today.
But then, a lot of differences too.
For instance, there is a strong emphasis on “together.” Community, communion, fellowship – no matter how you break down these words, it was about the whole body of Christ in “joint participation” together. It wasn’t about a person coming and being fed or another person coming and have a great experience in worship. There’s no emphasis on the individual at all. The emphasis is the body of Christ.
Sometimes though, when it comes to church that does not seem to be the emphasis. Often we hear a lot about individual preferences, personal needs, and unique desires expressed regarding reasons for attending church. We can often hear a lot of these sentiments expressed specifically when we talk about including children in times of corporate worship. Because kids will distract from those things.
To be clear; children are not a distraction.
They might be distracting. No wait, they are distracting.
But they are not a distraction.
They are members of the body of Christ. They are part of the community of faith.
And they are the only group of people Jesus specifically instructed us to welcome.
As I’ve watched kids in church, I’ve seen two things.
I have seen children lead the call to worship, lead the congregation in song, kneel and pray at the altar, and affirm their faith with the whole church.
I’ve also seen them drawing pictures on random bulletin inserts, turning around to see what others were doing, fidgeting and squirming, and, well, being distracting.
The tradeoff seems worth it to me.
They are members of Christ’s body. The body of Christ is built up by them. If church is about WE and not “me”, then most certainly, there must be times when WE are all together.
Kids don’t come expecting to get anything but they come ready to give. Every chance they have to actively participate, they will. Not reluctantly or under coercion; if they have are given a chance to be involved, they excitedly do just that.
What if we give them more chances?
If not for them, then most certainly for us. Because without them, our fellowship is incomplete. Our body is not whole. We may be distracted from what church is really all about – communion, joint participation, togetherness, being the body of Christ.
Does that mean we will need to seek other times to grow personally without that distraction? Yes, it does. It also means as a community we should seek to provide those times for one another. Because that is also what church is. It’s both/and, not either/or. It’s all of us together seeking for the good of the other. So..
Who am I? I am a child of God.
Who are we? We are the body of Christ
Why are we here? We are here to know more of God and His covenant of love to US.
All of us.
For more information about
- Kids in Worship
- Determining which Type of Family Ministry model works best for your church
- Discipleship in Intergenerational community
- Encouraging the continued conversation through Practical Discipleship at Home
- Seminars, Workshops, Coaching
About this Blog
Refocus Ministry was started by Christina Embree, wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and church planter at Plowshares BIC. With years of experience in family ministry and children’s ministry, she is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. She recently graduated with a Masters of Arts in Ministry focusing on Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family and Seedbed