I love church… even when it’s naff!

26th July 2020 4 By Andy Burrows

By Andy Burrows

I don’t go to church at the moment. My weak immune system means I’m advised against going into uncontrolled environments and public places where there are lots of people.

(And, of course, during the Covid-19 lockdown no one could go to church in person anyway, and that’s only just easing now, as at the time of writing.)

But, Covid-19 aside, if it weren’t for my vulnerability to infection I would go to church.

I love going to church.

But let me disabuse you of a common misconception. I am not kidding myself that church services are always top quality. And they’re not always enjoyable.

But I still love church.

I say this because:

  1. I want non-churchgoers to realise that church isn’t about polished, quality performances; and
  2. I want to encourage Christians to be honest, and to focus on the right things in the right way.

So, yes, at church sometimes the music sounds awful (especially when I’m playing and singing in the band!). Sometimes it’s dreary. Sometimes it’s too loud or too fast. Sometimes it’s banal. And sometimes it’s just downright out of tune.

But I still love church.

Sometimes I fall asleep during the prayers.

But I still love church.

Sometimes children break and ruin the concentration (I include my own when they were younger!).

But I still love church.

Sometimes preachers and sermons are boring.

But I still love church.

Sometimes people say and do things I disagree with.

But I still love church.

Church is full of imperfect people, living imperfect lives, who often say and do things imperfectly. Sometimes those imperfections might cause me to be upset, frustrated, exasperated or hurt.

But I still love church.

Because I don’t go to church for polished performances, for fantastic music, for great speeches, by polished, perfect people.

I don’t go to be entertained, or even to “get fed”, frankly.

I go to church to express something, to celebrate something, to revel in something.

When you gather as a family for a Sunday Dinner, or a Thanksgiving Dinner, or a Christmas Dinner, or even a family barbecue or birthday party, is your sole purpose to have great food and entertainment? Do you judge these events like an episode of Come Dine With Me?

No, the primary purpose of attending those events is to celebrate togetherness with your family. And you have chosen to do that in the context of celebrating Christmas or Thanksgiving or Sunday.

The food could be naff. The turkey might be horrible. The music might be cheesy. The bouncy castle could deflate. The barbecue could burst into flames and turn the food to charcoal.

But as long as all the family is there, it will be a great event.

In the same way, when I go to church I am going to be with my family (as sons together of the living God, adopted by His grace through the redeeming work of the Lord Jesus).

I am in church to celebrate with my Christian family, to express my togetherness with them, to revel in our shared experience of grace, in being called by God to be a family.

As the apostle Peter said, “you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God…” (1 Peter 2:9-10)

We gather together physically because God has gathered us together spiritually in Christ. We were once “not a people”, i.e. just individuals scattered around the world. But now… now we are not just a people. We are the people of God. Because of what Jesus Christ has done, and is doing through the Holy Spirit, for us.

That’s why it saddens me when I hear people saying that they don’t go to church, or they stopped going to church, because “it was boring” or they “didn’t get anything out of it.”

Those who talk about church as if it’s just another kind of social club or community group or political party are completely missing the point.

Those who talk about church as just another hobby or pastime are missing the point.

Those who talk about church as something like an optional extra to add to a Jesus-based personal belief system are missing the point.

Church is at the very heart of Christianity, because it gives expression to our calling, by grace, through the Lord Jesus Christ, to be a “people”, the people of God, the family of God.

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1)

So, maybe next time you think about church on a Sunday, and feel like staying at home because it’s boring, try and think of it as a family gathering, and see if that changes the way you feel about it.