Some people approach church in the same way they seek out new mobile phone carrier or cable provider. "Well, I'm just not getting what I need anymore. I think it's time to move on."
If you approach church with a consumer mentality, you are selling yourself short. When the knowledge you hear in church remains between your ears and the worship becomes little more than a spectator sport, you are missing the point.
The purpose of Sunday service is not, "What's in it for me?"
Sure, everyone needs spiritual growth. Everybody needs a gathering place that brings connection with fellow believers. We all need a weekly reminder of our moral compass according to God's Word. But there's something more at the heart of the matter: the true purpose of church.
A Real God Experience
A few months after I accepted the Lord as my Savior, my wife and I went to a nondenominational church in San Diego for the first time in my life as a Christian. The church was an old movie theatre, with about 700 seats. We sat in the back row of a packed house, and three minutes or so into the service I started crying.
I kept raising my eyebrows to try and stop the tears from rolling down my face, but my eyes kept welling up. I wondered, "Why am I crying?"
Was it the singing? It wasn't necessarily the sound of the voices, but something spiritual was washing over me. For the first time in my life I was having a real God experience - in church.
Church is the one and only place that has as its primary function the facilitation of a personal meeting with God. This happens when the church worships God in spirit and in truth.
I see people in church all the time with their hands raised and words coming out of their mouths, but they are not worshiping. Worship is much more than singing or going through the motions. Worship happens when your soul - the immaterial, nonphysical, eternal part of who you are - reaches toward God like a child reaches up for a parent.
Launch Pad for Pervasive Hope
Imagine if you only ate food once a week. Would your hunger be satisfied? Could you be sustained enough to accomplish basic tasks, let alone do something great and creative? No.
Likewise, there is no doubt you should be spiritually fed by Sunday service, but Sunday service should never be the only time during the week that you acknowledge God, seek out His presence or offer up praise.
Church is meant to be a launch pad. It is intended to be a place of organizing, where Christians experience the presence of God and leave even more motivated than before to carry and relay the hope of Jesus Christ to your community.
I have said more than once, our church is not like Burger King: Have it your way. It is more like Home Depot: You can do it, we can help. Church service is not a show; it is a call to action.
And until we all view church as a place to save, equip and send people out into our communities to bring pervasive hope to every person - to act as God's hands and feet - church will be marginalized as a club house for like-minded consumers.