I have left messages on this and other blogs about how boring church can be. This has prompted the question, “Well, if it’s so boring, why do you even bother to go?”
First of all, let me state that I am a believing Mormon. I believe Joseph Smith was a prophet, I believe in the Book of Mormon, I believe in the Bible, I believe going to church is a good, worthy endeavor, and I am very supportive of the good service that is performed in every ward in the church. (I guess you could call these my personal Articles of Faith.)
For many, Church is a social club. If they don’t feel welcome in a congregation, then keep shopping around until you find one they like. I think there is some merit to this. For people who are not strong believers in Christ, it is important to be in a welcoming, Christian environment. Christian fellowship is an important and powerful tool for good. Church should be very welcoming, or people will not want to come to church. We are told that fellowshipping builds stronger bonds, and aren’t we there to help each other become more Christlike? I do go to church for social reasons, but it is not the only reason I go. Sabbath observance is an important reason I go to church.
The Sabbath Day has a very interesting history. According to the Bible, God created the earth in 6 days and rested on the 7th. Jesus observed Sabbath on the 7th day. On my mission, I had an interesting experience. I was talking to someone on the phone who told me they believed that the Book of Mormon was the Word of God, as well as the Doctrine & Covenants, and felt that Joseph Smith was a prophet. However, this man refused to be baptized, because he couldn’t figure out why Mormons didn’t observe the Sabbath on the 7th day (Saturday.) I asked him if he would change his mind if I could find a revelation in the Doctrine and Covenants stating that the Sabbath should be on Sunday. He said if I could find it, he would be baptized.
At first I thought this was an easy challenge. I decided to research, but couldn’t find anything specifically commanding Joseph to observe the Sabbath on Saturday or Sunday. Then I remembered that Joseph was commanded to organize the church on April 6, 1830. I figured that of course that day must be a Sunday. To my surprise, I discovered that Joseph Smith organized the church on Tuesday, April 6, 1830. (To verify, here is a link–of course I didn’t have the internet on my mission, but found it another way.)
Thus began an interesting search into Sabbath Day observance for me. I learned that early Christians continued to observe the Sabbath on the 7th day, as Jesus did, but as it says in Acts 20:7, they also met on the first day of the week, “to break bread” and Paul preached until midnight.
The most important reason to attend church is the sacrament. This is one of the first church services that is specifically mentioned on the first day of the week. Why did they choose to meet on the first day? That is the day Jesus was resurrected. It is in remembrance of Jesus. So in a sense, every Sunday is Easter. (Now you know why I think Easter should have more importance in our church.)
The change of the Sabbath from the 7th day, to the 1st day fulfills Old Testament prophecy in Hosea 2:11, which says concerning Israel, “I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts.” So the 7th day Sabbath worship was too cease, and we don’t celebrate Jewish feasts any more either.
I got transferred before I found this information out, and never talked to the man again. Since he was a staunch 7th-Day Adventist, I’m not sure how convinced he would be anyway. Are you convinced? (I can provide more scriptures, but I think this will do for now.)
So, I go to church to remember Jesus. I go to remember the resurrection. I go to partake of the sacrament. The resurrection is especially important to me–I have lost a brother and sister within the last 10 years, and I am extremely grateful for the gift of the resurrection so that I can see them again.
As for the social reasons of going to church, I have been in many different wards. Some are very spiritual, some social, some with really odd people, and some quite boring. In my teenage years, I lived in a ward that I referred to as the “Nursing Home ward.” There were maybe a dozen teenagers in the ward, and it was full of really old, retired, wealthy people. The funeral to baby blessing ratio was about 20 funerals for every baby.
My current ward is just the opposite. We have about 3-5 baby blessings every month, and except for a few infants who have died at or near birth, we haven’t had any funerals. There is an excellent primary program in my ward, and my kids love to go because they have great teachers. On the other hand, sacrament meeting is quite noisy, and the teachers for Sunday School and Priesthood generally say things like, “I’m not a very good teacher”, “I hope you can make a lot of comments today or we will get out really early,” and are generally quite unprepared.
I suppose I’m a little jaded, because I was the Gospel Doctrine teacher until about a year and a half ago. I taught every other week, and often spent about 10 hours preparing my lessons. (Ok, I’m one of those weird people who actually likes to teach, and study the scriptures.) I often had videos like “Mysteries of the Bible” which illustrated a specific point of the lesson. Often I had powerpoint slides. When studying Isaiah, I even referenced non-King James Versions of the Bible to help us understand the archaic language. (The Blue Letter Bible website has KJV and about 14 other versions of the Bible.) I stayed on the topic of the lesson, and tried to ask pointed questions to elicit thought.
I frequently got compliments, but apparently my use of materials outside the LDS church made people uncomfortable. I was called into the bishop’s office, and told not to use non-KJV bibles, because “a stake visitor” (who I think was a member of the bishopric) thought it might harm some of the weaker testimonies in the ward. Are you kidding me? I thought Joseph Smith said we were supposed to “study the words of Isaiah”. How can we study it if we can’t even understand what he’s saying? Anyway, I was released soon after this.
So, I was replaced with people who didn’t want the calling (unlike me, who loved the calling), and they practically read the lesson manual, asking all the same questions we’ve all answered 100 times since seminary. So that’s part of the reason I complain, because I care. But I still go to church, because remembering the Savior and the Sacrament are much more important to me than teaching Sunday School. Helping my kids gain a testimony of Jesus Christ, learning Christian ideals, and being a good person is very important to me.
I still watch “Mysteries of the Bible”, read non-KJV bibles, and use the bloggernacle to edify me for my Sunday School lessons. I’ve been known to bring a book to church and read instead of going to Sunday School, and I do find my personal study of much higher quality than Gospel Doctrine. I can already hear some of you saying I should add my insights into the lessons, but I feel I was released for doing that. It seems to me that the bishop would prefer I stay quiet, and he hasn’t mentioned anything about my lack of attendance (he sees me in the clerk’s office, because he doesn’t go to Sunday School either.)
So let me pose some questions to you: Why do/don’t you go to church? For the non-religious types, does the Bible/BoM/Koran trouble you? Does religion in general trouble you? Are my reasons good/bad/off-base?