10 Reasons We Go to Church

This past Sunday I spoke in our ward's sacrament meeting. Here is a copy of my remarks. 😊

 

In recent years, our inspired leaders have been reminding us that the gospel of Jesus Christ is to be home-centre and church supported. And we of course saw the inspiration in this counsel as we were forced to change our church participation during the pandemic. Each of us needed to decide if we were going to be Sunday-only disciples.


This was likely not an easy transformation for any of us. It required work, determination, and sacrifice to do those things that would allow the Spirit of God to permeate our homes.

This pandemic is surely not the last of the trials that will disrupt our “normal” way of doing things. So, ensuring that our homes are truly holy places where our faith in Jesus Christ can grow will continue to be incredibly important. What we do in our church buildings cannot be the foundation of our faith and testimony. An unshakeable faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ will need to be built within the walls of your home.


BUT…


I worry that over the past 2 years, we may have forgotten how important our Sunday meetings are. What a blessing it has been to participate in sacrament meeting online and administer the sacrament in our homes. I hope we can continue to broadcast our meetings forever. But I fear that we may have become too comfortable with home church. We may have forgotten the many reasons why we gather each week.


In no order, I would like to review 10 of those reasons with you today.


Why are our Sunday church meetings important?


1. It’s another drop in our spiritual bucket


Spencer W. Kimball taught in 1982: “In our times there is a need for reservoirs of many kinds—reservoirs to store water, some to store food … But there should also be … reservoirs of faith. …so that when things of the world try to overwhelm us, we stand firm and strong.”

I testify that every good thing we do adds a drop in our spiritual bucket. I also testify that we are going to need every drop we can get.


Just 3 weeks ago President Eyring reminded us that “…we live in increasingly perilous times. … Anyone with eyes to see the signs of the times and ears to hear the words of prophets knows that is true. The perils of greatest danger come to us from the forces of wickedness. Those forces are increasing. And so it will become more difficult, not easier, to honor the covenants we must make and keep to live the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

I promise that going to church each week will bolster your spiritual strength to endure the inevitable trials to come.


2. To serve and strengthen others.


Bonnie L. Oscarson taught, “It is true that we attend our weekly Church meetings to participate in ordinances, learn doctrine, and be inspired, but another very important reason for attending is that, as a ward family and as disciples of the Savior Jesus Christ, we watch out for one another, encourage one another, and find ways to serve and strengthen each other. We are not just receivers and takers of what is offered at church; we are needed to be givers and suppliers.”

I urge you every time you walk into this building, ask yourself “Who needs me today?”


When you can fully embrace this idea that the gospel of Jesus Christ is all about what you can give as opposed to what you can get, that is when the real change happens. The full blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ, a unshakeable conversion, becoming a new person in Christ, comes from being a spiritual producer, not a spiritual consumer.


3. To learn from others.


Dallin H. Oaks taught: “Attendance and activity in a church help us become better people and better influences on the lives of others. In church we are taught how to apply religious principles. We learn from one another. A persuasive example is more powerful than a sermon. We are strengthened by associating with others of like minds.”

This is never more essential than when it comes to investigators, new converts and those returning to activity. They need a place to see the gospel in action. Maybe you don’t think you need them, but they desperately need you.


4. A sense of belonging. A community in Christ.


I try to always refer to our ward as a ward family because that is truly that I believe it to be. In order for a family to “work” we need to spend time together. Long distance relationships are difficult and often don’t work. Families aren’t meant to be separated. Healthy families live together, laugh together, cry together, and just be together.


D. Todd Christofferson taught, “God’s ultimate purpose is our progress. … That requires more than simply being nice or feeling spiritual. It requires faith.., repentance, baptism…, and enduring in faith to the end. One cannot fully achieve this in isolation, so a major reason the Lord has a church is to create a community of Saints that will sustain one another in the ‘strait and narrow path…’”

5. You’re setting an example for your children.


I know how challenging it can be to go to church with young children. The scramble to get ready, the long march to the only empty bench, Cheerios spilled everywhere, the 10,000 steps you get chasing after the toddler who just found their legs, being relegated to hallway purgatory, and the walk of shame as you carry out the child who is losing their mind because their sibling took a toy away from them.


When I was at that stage of life, I asked myself the question countless times, “Why do I even come to church? I’m not getting anything from this.”


Well, if I could go back and give some advice to frustrated 30-year-old Drew, I would tell him: “You’re not going to church for you right now. You’re going to church so that your children know how important it is to go to church.”


Setting this example is especially important when attending is either not convenient or it’s not something we really want to do. Our kids need to see that we do things that might not be at the top of our “fun list” but are at the top of our “important list.” If church attendance is seen as a choice when something better comes along, then what stops all the other commandments from being seen the same way?


Your children need that church is important to you.


Children will always take more from what you do than what you say. You can tell them that God is important, church is important, doing what’s right is important. But, unless they see your actions backing up those words, they’ll never be more than words.


6. It can be a righteous tradition.


Several years ago, I read a book called “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin. In it the author chose 12 different “happiness tools” to try out over the course of a year. She was trying to see if she could proactively make herself happier.


One section is all about traditions. Quoting Rubin: “Studies show that traditions are quite important to family happiness. In fact, family rituals encourage children's social development and boost feelings of family cohesiveness by 17 percent. They help provide connection and predictability, which people—especially children—crave.”

This really rang true to me. Think of the positive memories you have from your childhood. I bet most of those revolve around traditions. A certain breakfast on Christmas morning. Carving pumpkins on Halloween. Breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day. Getting to choose all the meals on your birthday. Eating only desserts for dinner on the day before the start of the school year.


Church attendance also needs to be a tradition.


7. To partake of the sacrament


In D&C 20:75 we read, “It is expedient that the church meet together often to partake of bread and wine in the remembrance of the Lord Jesus;”


The ultimate purpose of our Sunday church meetings is for us to partake of the sacrament. We are reminded of the sacrifice our Lord made for us. We renew the covenants we made at baptism. We recommit to strive to be like Jesus Christ. Just like the ordinance of baptism, this provides each of us an opportunity to “start over” each week.


8. We need the repetition


We all need reminders of things we “know”, but perhaps don’t always apply well.

I enjoy reading business books. Amongst those books I usually read 1 or 2 personal finance related books per year. While I’m reading these books, I invariably make better financial decisions. That’s not because I’m necessarily learning anything new. All these finance books are essentially saying the same thing. I just make better financial decisions because that information is top of mind.


I promise the same principle applies to the gospel of Jesus Christ. When it’s top of mind you will make better decisions.


This reminds me of a promise made by our prophet, Russell M. Nelson in 2017, “I promise that as you prayerfully study the Book of Mormon every day, you will make better decisions—every day.

God knows we forget so easily. We get distracted so easily. So, God set up a system to help our flawed mortal brains remember what is eternally important. Church meetings 52 times per year.


9. It’s a commandment


Alma 6:6 states, “…the children of God were commanded that they should gather themselves together oft, and join in fasting and mighty prayer…”


When we were baptized, one of the promises we made was to strive to keep the commandments. Showing up at church once a week is part and parcel of that promise.


10. You can’t separate the gospel of Jesus Christ from the church he created


Can you live a righteous life without coming to church? Of course.


Can you feel the Spirit and see God’s hand in your life with our coming to church? Again, absolutely.


But to do this thing the whole way, to truly become a disciple of Jesus Christ, to gain the full blessings God has in store for you, just can’t be done currently without the church.


Someone I know recently joined our church. In a Facebook post a couple of months after being baptized he recounted some serious struggles he was having. At the end of the post he said, “I really need a sacrament meeting.”


Reading this caused me to do some serious self-reflection. When was the last time I really needed a sacrament meeting? Does church attendance give me the strength to endure the challenges of life or is it just something I do? Are Sunday’s an impactful part of my week or have they just become another day? If I miss partaking of the sacrament, do I really miss it?

I know I need to make some changes to put my Sabbath Day meetings back where they need to be.


I testify that there are countless blessings that come from attending church each week. I am so grateful for our congregation and my privilege to be with you each week. I changed as a person when I became a member of the Belmead ward family. One day I’ll tell you the story. But thank you for helping me be a better person. Thank you for helping make church an important part of my life. Thank you for all that you do for me and for each other.


One final thought,


If for some reason that desire to be with us each week has waned in your life, I’m going to ask you to do 3 things:


(1) Pray to your Heavenly Father that He may replant that desire in your heart.


(2) Never forget that you are not alone. Whether you’re here in the building or not, whether you actively participate or not, you are a member of the family. You are important and you are loved. Please give our ward family a chance to show you that love.


(3) Please just try it. Most important things in life require a time of doing because we should, until they eventually become something beautiful. I promise that if you are willing to try, Sunday services will become something beautiful for you.


In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.



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