THE REV. BOB HILL, pastor emeritus, Community Christian Church: “Going to church” has many “best parts,” whenever the parts are done with excellence.
Some churches have extraordinary music programs that lift yearning souls into heights of glorious celebration.
Some churches have exceptional preachers who astound listeners with their poetic capacities to command engagement about matters of ultimate importance.
In other churches the rarefied gifts of prayer are front and center.
In yet other churches, members and visitors alike are reminded of the empowering delight of living in a caring community and encountering afresh the holy promise: “Lo, I am with you always.…”
Church experiences afford participants the regular discipline of reverence as well as opportunities for usefulness through hands-on service.
In a fractured society distracted by hyper-individualism, there can be devastating isolation. Going to church provides an encounter with an extended family and helps people guard against the temptation of self-absorption.
Most people long for the blessings of solitude, but there is an even greater need for a sense of belonging. Going to church can provide you a group that knows your name, welcomes you with grace, comforts you in sadness, and celebrates your joys and successes.
Going to church, at its best, is an adventure that broadens your vision, heals your destructive habits, enhances your talents, expands your friendships, intensifies your jubilations, soothes your sorrows, and magnifies the amazing, abounding graces of God.
Going to church helps you go through the rest of the week — and eventually the rest of life — with purpose, fulfillment, and immutable joy.
THE REV. DUKE TUFTY, senior pastor, Unity Temple on the Plaza: I could say the best thing about going to church is to get closer to God; to get direction from a higher order on how to live your life; to pray for the forgiveness of your sins and to move closer to the eternal reward of salvation.
But, the fact of the matter is you can get just as close to God walking in the park on a Sunday morning; you don’t need a “higher order” directing and dictating how to live your life; your sins will be forgiven when you forgive yourself and lastly you are a divine expression of God spirit and you don’t need to be saved from an imaginary hell.
As human beings we need three basic things in order to have a true sense of well-being.
First, we need social interaction. We have a strong desire to “connect” with others. The church provides a positive, uplifting environment for people to join together.
Second, we need to be of service. We need to know we make a difference in the world. Most churches have opportunities for a person to help an individual going through a difficult time or to help groups of people facing great challenges.
Third, our lives need to have meaning. We need to deepen our understanding of the person we are and the life we are living. The church inspires us to grow, evolve and expand our spiritual awareness.
I don’t go to church for the dogma, doctrines, dictates and creeds. I go because it is an ideal place to assist me in keeping happy, upright and balanced.
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