Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 2.28.52 PMFor the first time in nine years, I don’t live inside the Christian bubble.

For the past 4.5 years I worked in a church. For the 4.5 years before that, I was a student at the world’s largest Christian school.

Hello bubble.

Since I’ve left the bubble, I’ve begun thinking about and analyzing things that I used to just assume.

Like going to church.

There’s a stat bouncing around the church world that is starting to freak out pastors and church administrators. It says that, on average, Americans only go to church 1-2 times per month. Gone are the days where most church goers were in their spot every Sunday. We’re now lucky to see people more than twice a month.

When I first heard this stat about a year ago, I was blown away. I couldn’t imagine life as a Christian where you only came to church once or twice a month.

Confession: Since leaving the church staff, I’ve been to church twice in six weeks.

As I’ve gotten into the routine of working all day Friday – as opposed to having Fridays off like we do in the church world – I’ve realized how short the weekend actually is.

And there’s a lot to get done.

I can’t imagine having to get it all done while having soccer games, girl scouts, and other things that come with being a parent.

Then, to top off all that, what about when I have small group? That’s a three hour time commitment that I’ve made to 4-5 other couples. There’s no way I’m missing that.

All this has left me asking myself two questions:

1) What defines going to church in 2015?
2) Why should I care about the weekly church gathering on Sunday morning?

I admit I don’t have these answer completely figured out. Part of the reason I wanted to write this today is for us to begin a conversation where we talk about issues like this. You have a perspective that I may need to hear and haven’t thought about yet.

So, without further ado, here are my answers to those questions:

1) What defines going to church in 2015?
My favorite definition of the word church is “an assembly of Christians gathered for worship in a religious meeting.” This isn’t a building or a service necessarily.

It could mean coming together for corporate worship and teaching.

But it doesn’t have to.

When I spend three hours with my small group talking about life, Jesus, and the Bible – I’m at church.

When I get together with people to serve others – I’m at church.

The popular stat may say people are only coming to church once or twice a month, but I believe we’re only coming to the church building once or twice a month.

If I don’t have to come to the church building to go to church, then

2) Why should I care about the weekly church gathering on Sunday morning?
Let’s be honest: I have complete access to my favorite Bible teachers and worship leaders from my cell phone. At any given time, I can tap into communicators and musicians that are better than anyone within 100 miles of me.

So why should I spend two hours of my weekend at a church service when I can get better stuff in sweat pants at my kitchen table?

Why should I take even more of my time when I’m already “going to church” in other ways?

These are the two ideas I’ve wrestled with the most. I’ve gone back and forth on answers and what I’ve settled on surprised me.

The weekly church gathering isn’t for me anymore.

It’s for other people.

And they need me.

I’ve been a Christian as long as I can remember. I have a seminary degree and I’m decently “mature” in my faith. A weekly service is likely to encourage me and hopefully challenge me, but it probably won’t be life changing.

That service happened years ago.

The weekly church gathering for me is important because someone else needs to see me worship publicly. Someone else needs to see me wake up early to hold a door, change a diaper, or make pretty lights. They need to see me hug a friend or pray for someone I don’t even know.

Not going to the weekly church gathering because I’ve already been to church in some other way is completely, 100% self-motivated.

As Christians, we’re called to be self-sacrificing, not self-motivated.

I think it’s time we redefine what going to church means, but it’s also time to redefine why we go to church.

What are your thoughts?

What does going to church look like to you?

Why do you go to the weekly church gathering?

I’d love to hear them in the comments.

Say your prayers and take your vitamins.

Have a nice day.

-Jonathan

Did you like this post? If so, I’d love if you clicked one of the buttons below to share it with your friends.