Why do we “need” to go to church? Putting theological questions aside for a moment, it is reasonable in our time to look at regular religious practice with new eyes. In a time of concern for efficiency, we know why we go to work or why we go to the grocery store. But why do we need to go to church when we effectively find ourselves doing the same thing, week after week? Why all that repetition? Doesn’t repetition just make it boring and irrelevant? Maybe repetition is precisely why we need to do it. We need the practice, the repeating. When it comes to going to church, it seems, we sometimes fail to appreciate what we have learned about human physiology and how the human brain works. Nerve endings need to “fire to wire.” If we don’t fire those God-connecting, religious-experiencing senses, they will not come together nearly as richly and powerfully as they could. Neural pathways are not guaranteed: We “use them or lose them.” It is similar to the ability to speak a difficult language: much easier if we have learned it and consistently used it from a very young age. If we do not develop those nerve endings, those religious instincts for connecting with God and neighbor and all creation, our capacity to do so will become a shadow of what it otherwise could be. Of course God’s grace is always there, and miracles of transformation do happen. But it is in the little steps of regular practice of the presence of God, each week, each day, that we truly enter into new possibilities as human beings. It’s simply how we are made. People would not scoff at violinists, ballplayers, lawyers, or doctors who practice their discipline, carefully, regularly, over years, repeated. They need to practice. Just as we need to go to church. © 2010, Bryan Froehle.
Authors Bryan FroehleRestricted