What Christian parent hasn’t heard that question from their kids, at some point? In my house, it was usually when we were running late and stumbling around, trying to get out the door on time — clearly not the right time for a deep, philosophical conversation about the purpose of the church. However, in a time of non-conflict, important questions like these really should be answered.
Maybe you grew up in church, and it’s simply become more of a tradition or habit than something you’re passionate and purposeful about. Maybe you have friends or family with whom you attend your church, and you really like that sense of connectedness. Maybe you enjoy the atmosphere, the music, and the opportunity to learn something new. When you actually start to voice these reasons, they may seem pretty lame; honestly, they’re not the greatest motivations, but they’re not the worst, either. Think of it as a Good-Better-Best scenario. Let’s move on to “better.”
What happens when we go to church? Hopefully, we’ll also sing to and about God, focusing our minds and hearts on Him. Then, we’ll listen to a message that will explain a portion of God’s Word and encourage us to apply it to our lives. Before and after the service, we’ll interact with others who are at various stages of their own spiritual journeys, and encouragement will flow both directions (Hebrews 10:24-26). Most people hope for a positive experience and suggestions on how to cope with or become more empowered for the week ahead.
What’s the best reason to go to church? Is it because you’re required to, like to, or even think it will help you? No. It’s to glorify God and truly worship Him, to remind yourself of the Gospel and renew your commitment to Christ. Secondarily, it should be to pour ourselves into other people’s lives as we endeavor to fulfill the many one-another commands we find in Scripture.
If “church” becomes simply a place or event we attend, we’re missing the boat. The church is a living, breathing organism comprised of people with whom we’re to live in community — not just once or twice a week, but throughout our day-to-day lives. That kind of commitment takes serious effort and vulnerability. If your teen isn’t there yet, reminding him or her about the best reasons to go to church is especially important.
Be real and honest about your own motivations and struggles, but be sure to include the biblical ideal, too. It may give you one more opportunity to highlight your own shortcomings (Rom. 3:23) and how you stand in the need of grace. Any chance to recount the Gospel before your teen is a definite plus!