“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” Colossians 3:16
I’ve been a churchgoer all my life. As soon as I could hold my head up, my parents deposited me in the nursery and took a seat in the sanctuary. Once I started growing and rejoicing, I learned about baby Moses in Sunday school, sang about the “Little Drummer Boy” in Christmas pageants, and had my heart strangely warmed at youth group retreats.
None of those experiences could have prepared me at age 66 for the phenomena of “nones.” Shockingly, three-in-10 adult Americans today identify as religious “nones,” described as atheists, agnostics, or “nothing in particular” when it comes to religion. The Pew Research Center projects that by 2070, nones will make up half the U.S. population.
How can that be? Where else can you – all in one setting, usually in about one hour – be surrounded by people who care about you, hear an inspiring message, and immerse yourself in soul-stirring music?
Granted, a global pandemic took a toll on public gatherings and singing en masse. But this non-churchgoing trend began long before COVID-!9 came on the scene. Secular society has diminished the importance of Sabbath rest and religious activity. Church is no longer a priority in the U.S.
What a shame! I remember the childhood hand activity: Here’s the church, here’s the steeple; open the door and look at all the people. The church is not a building, it’s the folks who show up.
I recall seeing a church member who had recently lost her husband kneeling at the altar rail after taking Communion. Another member of the congregation who was kneeling beside her subtly moved closer and put an arm around the widow.
There couldn’t be a more poignant demonstration of the power of churchgoing. It’s about showing love – toward Christ, toward each other, and toward the community.
As we learn in Hebrews, meeting together and encouraging one another – churchgoing – is how we “spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”
I, for one, will continue the habit of hearing the message of Christ and singing to God with gratitude. NONE of that would be possible without church.