Even if you don't believe a single Biblical miracle ever happened; even if you don't intend to practice what you listen to, and you're only there to sit through a service; even if you think it's boring, going to church is in your best interest.
As a Christian, I believe that Christians ought to attend congregational gatherings regularly because to be part of the "church" is to be part of the "assembly." (Ekklesia means "called out," and was a common word for assemblies, both christian and secular.) Assembling is integral to what Christians do. Christians who never assemble with other Christians by their own choosing have little right to claim they are part of the "church" ("assembly"), at least as the New Testament terminology goes. But that's not a soapbox I'm here to stand on today.
For now, I want to set all the doctrine, rules, and pastoral fiats aside. Also, I know plenty of people can tell stories about crazy congregations that are overly negative or outlandish, who have damaged people in some way. I'm not talking about those places. I'm talking about your basic, generally positive, Christian worship assembly. I'm not wanting to talk about why you have to go. I'm wanting to talk about why it's good to go. Especially if you have a family, there are a number of benefits that you enjoy as a church goer aside from anything spiritual.
Here are some benefits you will enjoy from being at church that you will miss out on for not going:
- If you go as a family, it is at least 1 hour per week in this hectic, crazy world that you and your family can do something as a family. Statistically, you greatly diminish your chances of being divorced, as well as the chances of your children becoming delinquents by simply going to church as a family once per week. (Note to dads: Sending the wife and kids to church while you play golf is not the same as going with them. But going as a family will strengthen your family.) Also, you have more opportunities to talk to your family after you've heard a lesson together. "What did you think about what he said?" "I liked this point." "I didn't agree with this point." At least you'll be talking!
- It gives your family a chance to make friends with other families that care about being good people. If you must have friends, why not try and make some that will make a good impact on you? Granted, Christians are not perfect people, but at least they're committed to trying to be better than they are.
- It will be at least one hour per week that you are not being bombarded with the standard filth that you encounter on television or the internet. Most atheistic people who deny the Lordship of Christ will still acknowledge that Jesus was a fantastic teacher and ethicist. Getting 30 minutes per week of information, advice, and encouragement about living a good life must surely be good for you. Even if you don't believe the Bible, you cannot deny its ability to make positive changes in people's lives. (OK, so you can deny it, but you would be wrong to do so.)
- It gives you an opportunity to know people from age groups and social circles that you wouldn't otherwise interact with. It is important to know that all humans have intrinsic value as people. There are people both old and young that you will encounter at church that would have no other connections to you.
- It gives your children a great chance to practice their manners and improve their social skills. Having to meet and greet people of all ages is good for them.
- It gives your children an opportunity to learn how to behave themselves in an environment where they should be quiet and listen. A child who has always gone to church and has learned to sit in an auditorium quietly has a huge advantage when it's time to sit in a classroom and learn.
- If your children are with you, it is one hour per week where you know they aren't doing something bad or mischievous.
- If the church is active as it should be, it will provide you with opportunities to help make a positive impact on your community. I know my congregation is active in providing needed help and resources to families who have hit hard times. We deliver baskets and gifts during the holiday seasons to help families who cannot afford some of the luxuries most of us enjoy at these times. We sometimes volunteer our efforts to simply help pick up around the neighborhood. Why not get involved in some things that all people can acknowledge are good and wholesome?
- It gives you a chance to develop your musical talents. I know so many people who have become great singers because they've been able to sing in their assemblies. The practice of community music has basically died in our culture...we think only professionals have the right to sing and make music, so rather than learn to play and sing, we just play CDs and MP3s. The practice of communal music lives on primarily in the church. Show up and sing, and enjoy the beauty of the lyrics and the melody. It doesn't matter how you sound...the people aren't coming to listen to you anyway.
- It helps you develop personal responsibility by showing up voluntarily at a place you don't have to be. If you live life only doing the bare minimum of what your boss requires and you never learn to be a volunteer, how will you grow as a person? Wouldn't we all agree that a cheerful volunteer is the kind of person that everyone wants to have around? Choosing to go to church then fulfilling that decision is good practice in setting and achieving goals.
- When really bad times hit your life--and they hit everyone's--you will have a solid network of people to rely on. It is so much better to face your problems with the love and encouragement of other people, rather than having to face everything on your own. You buy insurance to financially bail you out of bad situations, but having a lot of Christian friends is great emotional insurance. A true Christian friend will be there for you when the going gets tough.