Why Churches?

A conversation on facebook got me thinking about this. Why do people go to churches? I mean, in theory what purpose do churches serve? From my outsider’s point of view churches don’t seem to do anything but bore people, ask for money, and protect child abusers, but clearly people must be getting something out of it.

I only ever attended one church service, when I was about eight years old. I went along with the neighbors after their kids invited me. I don’t remember much, mostly being very bored and very uncomfortable, there was something profoundly creepy to me about all these grownups talking so seriously about stuff that seemed obviously make-believe. I never went back, and I’ve never felt that I was missing anything by it.

But many people go every week, sometimes more than once. Why? This is something I hadn’t really thought of before, it was always just something lots of people did, but the more I think about it the weirder it seems.

If you’re a church-goer I would really appreciate it if you would leave a comment and tell me what you get out of it. From your point of view, what do they actually do?

About Leo Tarvi

Mostly fictional.

Posted on November 13, 2012, in Daily Post and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. It really depends on who you are. Some people go to learn about their religion (which I’ve always assumed is the main reason). Some go for the social aspect. Being christian segregates you. Some people won’t invite you to certain functions because they think you won’t be interested or because it is against your beleifs. Outside of the being preached at/to there is a solid social structure. It allows for what communities should be. A group of people who are there for one another, enjoy similar intrests, and provide emotional, physical, and monetary support. Some go for ‘repentance’ and that’s bullshit (see the child molestation link above).

    I guess socially you could look at it like almost anything else. Bars, where alcohol drinkers congregate. Conventions for whatever show/genre that those people into. Or even polotitions(sp). There is that additional segment that allows for a common intrest.

    If the congregation truly beleives what they say they do, it is a pretty amazing thing. The best example was when my mother recently got her hip replaced. A huge deal for anyone. A group of (probably two dozen) people got together, made a calender, and cooked and delivered meals on a bi-daily (every other day is di-daily right?) basis. They cooked more food then our whole family could reasonably eat. They did this for mom, which was already preatty amazing, but for the whole family was above and beyond what was needed.

    Of course, I barely go anymore. Not many peers my age. The church I go to forked from the methodist church after the methodists decided to not follow their own belief system. That aside, I never said I was a devout christian.

    • I was actually thinking in terms of what their role or function in the religion was intended to be, which for most that don’t have confession or other such rituals is probably teaching about the faith, like you said.

      I’m glad I left it vague, though, because that was really interesting. Thanks!

  2. I’ve gone to church a few times (let me know when you’ve stopped laughing)… and for the following reasons: because someone insisted (childhood), because I thought I had to (childhood), because I thought there may be negative consequences to not going (childhood), curiosity about a religion (young adulthood), to get a little time that wasn’t work (basic training), because a hot person I wanted to know better attended (lol), and desperation born of miserable unending fear and misery (during my first marriage). Aside from satisfying the curiosity angle to a degree, and one chance moment during which I witnessed real believers with serious fervor (can’t say I wasn’t impressed, but I don’t care to see it again, thankfully it is very rare) it hasn’t done anything of value for me. I suppose if I believed any of it, perhaps it could – that’s how placebos work.

    • I’ve finally stopped laughing enough to reply! This is clear evidence against a wrathful, judgmental smitin’ god….

      I had completely forgotten about your first marriage, which led to a moment of “Oh that’s right!” and some reflection.

      I’ve seen video of people “speaking in tongues” which had a terrifying fervor to them. I know how powerful a worked up crowd can be, so I can believe that they honestly thought some holy force was entering them and making them talk gibberish in the moment, but that people would calm down and then go back and do it again, repeatedly, scares me.

      It’s especially weird because if you read the part of the Bible that talks of speaking in tongues (Acts 2), it’s clear that it was about people understanding each other regardless of what language they were speaking, hearing the word as if it were spoken in their native tongue.

      The really scary part is if you point that out to them, because every time I’ve seen it attempted, they just ignored it. Obviously they were right and you were wrong, even if that also means the Bible, their most sacred book, is wrong. Someone that certain of their righteousness can justify anything.

  3. Strengthening. Refocussing. Getting some carefully set aside time to examine what you believe, and how you believe, hopefully while building fellowship and support.
    I mean, that’s ideal. Churches are run by people. Churches are full of people. That leaves a lot of room to fall short. Sometimes, I am filled with hope and courage, sometimes with annoyance and a desire for all the Ritalin.
    But, I think my dad is doing some great, good things with his old people Sunday school class.

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