On a recent trip, I was able to visit a church I had never been to before. It is rare that I do not attend a local church when I’m away from my own church on a Sunday. I made a post about my visit to this church and shortly afterward received two texts. The first was from a pastor friend and the other was from someone who attends the church I pastor. Both had a very similar question. “Why do you go to church when you are away?” There were a couple of things that immediately came to mind, but I gave it a little more thought before I responded. It is not the first time I have been asked that question, so I thought I would share with you a few of the reasons why I attend church when I travel.
It Renews Me
Sundays typically require me to be on my A-game from the moment I enter the building until the time I leave; conversations, needs, service order, sermons, meeting new people, etc. I am constantly pouring out. When I attend a different church while traveling there are no expectations of me. I don’t know when a volunteer didn’t show up. I have no idea the technical glitches they have had to work through that morning. No one comes to me with a complaint. I walk in and get to enjoy everything. I get to sing without worrying about how the sermon transition is going to work. I get to meet new people without needing to work to remember names. I find it very renewing when I visit. I experience spiritual encouragement that is hard to find when your vocation requires you to be aware of so many other things.
I Want To Learn
I read about church a lot. I listen to podcasts. I am constantly seeking how people and churches are doing things better. One of the best learning tools is to see those things in action. Every church does things differently and usually for a reason. Occasionally I will see an idea that I think will work well where I serve. I will bring it back to staff and church leaders to discuss. Sometimes it is exactly what we have been missing. Being a lifetime learner requires you to be in environments where you can learn.
I Should Set The Example
I have always been frustrated when people only attend church when they have something to do. If the only time I attend church is when I am preaching or have a job to do, what does that say to everyone else? I want people to gather to worship regularly, whether they have an assignment or obligation or not. Gathering with other believers is important in our faith walk and being an example for others is important.
My Family Matters
It is not uncommon for Barbara and me to be traveling with family members. The last trip we took was to see our son. It is important to us for our family to be in church. Attending church with our family is just a way for us to reinforce that. It shows them how important we believe it is. There are few things in this world that have had as positive an impact on our lives than the local church. We want our family to have the same experience that we have had.
Attending church is not the answer to every problem. However, the local fellowship of believers is the framework that Christ intended us to use to impact the world. Every chance I get I want to be in one. If you do not attend a local church, I encourage you to join me in bringing hope to the world.