Sunday, September 05, 2010


Sunday Reflection: The point of worship

Today I will continue my adventure in Minneapolis churches at St. Stephens, which is just a few blocks from my house. Last week, they were doing baptisms in the river next to the church, which was a beautiful sight.

Why even go to a church, though? Does it either add or subtract to our beliefs and spirituality?

I will take your ideas on this before I chime in.

God doesn't care whether or not you go to church.
Anon: how do you know God's feelings on this? The Bible says otherwise.
I think there are many reasons people choose to attend a worship service.

1. They wish to be seen in their community as being a church goer. This in my mind is not necesarily the right reason to attend.

2. They enjoy the community of people they find in a church and hope to share some of the same beliefs.

3. They seek meaning, guidance and lessons from the words of the Bible or other appropriate text presented by the person standing before them (Pastor, Minister, Rabbi, Father, etc...)

I do not know if the attendance at a weekly worship service adds or subtracts to one's beliefs or spirituality. That is very personal as are the reasons for attending or not attending in the first place. I do know that many people know it is something they need to keep the rhythms of their lives in check.

I think it is admirable that you are exploring your options in your new community to find what is appropriate.
I go to church

1. To worship my Savior, Jesus Christ, and His Father, our Heavenly Father,

2. To renew the covenants that I made with God when I was baptized through the administration of the sacrament of the last supper by those who have the authority to act in God's name,

3. To receive instruction from those who have been called of God and who have the proper authority to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and administer in the ordinances that pertain to it,

4. To be strengthened by and to strengthen others who belong to the Church or are considering whether or not to unite themselves to the Church,

5. And to be obedient to the commandments that I have received through God's prophets:

"And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day; For verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High; Nevertheless thy vows shall be offered up in righteousness on all days and at all times; But remember that on this, the Lord's day, thou shalt offer thine oblations and thy sacraments unto the Most High, confessing thy sins unto thy brethren, and before the Lord. And on this day thou shalt do none other thing, only let thy food be prepared with singleness of heart that thy fasting may be perfect, or, in other words, that thy joy may be full." Doctrine and Covenants 59:9-13
I went to seminary with Neil, the rector at St. Stephens. From what I recall, he is a pretty good guy.
Also, you might consider Macalester Plymouth United Church (a dually aligned Presbyterian USA- United Church of Christ Congregational congregation) located in St. Paul.

Here is their website:

It seems big enough to have some programs, but no so big that you take a number; it lists at about 260 in worship.

Also, there seem to be a number of smaller UCC Churches in SW Minneapolis, that are theologically where you are.

Union Congregational in St. Louis Park is doing some great stuff.

Have fun.
I think that most people's reasons for going are quite personal and I am not sure I really need to know them. All I ask of those that DO go is that they attend with an open mind and an open heart.

But then, I am Unitarian.
Oh and they should NOT judge other people harshly who DO NOT go.
Coming from someone who has had a few different phases: at church every moment the doors were open; there, involved, but at a distance; and not there at all, I have the following thoughts.

I think attending a church is essential (not for "admittance" to heaven but for spiritual growth!) for Christians. But, there is a caveat.

I am speaking for myself here... I don't think it is worthwhile to attend to just attend. Any one of us can show up at a service, sing hymns we have known from childhood and even teach Sunday SAchool - all while doing it without thought or feeling.

The most personal and meaningful times I have had at a church were the ones where people (including me) showed up without pretense. Being real in a church group is tough - you have to have accountability and be willing to be called out. You also have the wonderful opportunity to have people who love you and care for you.

That is my current challenge. I want to find a place where people are real, but the main point is that I acknowledge that until I am “real” I cannot expect it of anyone else.
I really don't and can't judge anyone else's spirituality; only my own.

Setting aside the urgings to corporate worship in the gospels, I know that I am not strong enough or good enough to walk the path of Christianity, or even close to it, on my own. I need to be constantly challenged and encouraged (two different but essential things) in my faith, or it fades. I know this from my own history.

The Church does not need me, particularly, but I do need it. I need it not because of any one strength or ultimate truth (every church is flawed), but because of my own failings and weaknesses.
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