Why do people attend church?

I just drove from Dayton, Ohio to Bloomington, Indiana using backroads. I noticed every town, big and small, has churches.

Dumb question, but why do people go to church?

Is it because they believe it will help them get to heaven?

Is it because they’re feeling lonely, and enjoy the interactions with other attendees?

Is it because they’ve hit a low point in their life, and are looking for answers? Is it a form of therapy?

Is it for making political connections? Business connections?

Perhaps “all of the above” is the correct answer.

Do you go to church? Why?

Or “none of the above.”

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One important contributing factor you seem to have left off your list there is “family/community tradition”.

For a whole lot of people, going to church on Sundays is a deeply ingrained habit. For even more people, going to church on Christmas and Easter is likewise a deeply ingrained habit, even if they don’t attend regular Sunday services. Traditional practices don’t necessarily need any kind of immediate practical purpose in order to successfully perpetuate themselves.

And of course, the standard reason for going to church is to worship God. That’s generally considered part of the duty of a Christian even if you aren’t immediately focused on scoring additional go-to-heaven points.

In no particular order:

It’s a chance to get together with their friends

They find comfort in the weekly ritual

They talk to God instead of (or in addition to) a therapist

A lot of old people have been doing it their entire life and it’s natural for them

Group praying feels more forceful than individual prayer

The Sunday service is just one facet of the church community - there are clubs, projects, small group gatherings, bingo, whatever

The hour they spend in church is “quiet time” to escape the rest of the world, reflect or meditate, etc.

They’re practicing “punchcard religion,” where showing up at church is one of the things on the list to go to heaven

They like to sing, and church is just about the only place you can get together for group singing

Tradition, custom, the way things always have been.

I know many friends who I wouldn’t call “religious”, but who feel compelled to attend church or mass at least at Easter, Christmas and when they have an emotionally upsetting time, like when a loved one or close relative dies. When questioned, they will tell me that they don’t know why, they just do it, as their family always has. It’s expected of them.

Questioning tradition is not a tradition in many families.

The do it to have some company. I think most people who aren’t Evangelicals consider it a social occasion.

No, I do not attend a church.

I would wager that there are people who attend church for any and all of the reasons listed by the OP.

The primary reason I attend church is to worship God with his people. We worship God by taking part in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. As humans, we were created by God to worship, and we owe worship to him by virtue of our being created by him.

All of the means of our eternal salvation are available only through the Church, specifically through the Sacraments that it makes available to us.

For many, the simple reason is that it feels good.

I view religion as the social manifestation of an individual situation: faith is individual, religion is collective. I go to Church to take part in the collective religious rituals I associate with, mainly. There’s also: it’s part of my compromise in becoming godmother to my nephews, it makes a bunch of people I know happy (from relatives, to old classmates I only run into at Mom’s parish, to tourists I assist in finding a seat, to other tourists who are pleasantly surprised+ to be included in the Peace despite “oh, not Catholic”), it brings me into a different headspace than the one I normally inhabit. My reasons for going are different in different places and at different times: in Milan I wasn’t expecting to run into any acquaintances, but being able to celebrate Mass with a lot of people whose language I understand but don’t quite share is a reminder of the Universality of our Church.

And I don’t go to Mass when I’m in a place where I don’t understand the language*, because then the headspace thing doesn’t work at all. I may and in fact often do go to a church to look at the architecture; I don’t go to Mass to do so.

  • Peace is a universal wish. If we begin asking “excuse me, are you of my religion” before we start sharing our prayer that we all find peace… oh Lord, not the 30 Years’ War again!
  • If I’m ever invited to a specific ceremony, I will. But then I’m there to share the religious ceremony and experience with the specific people who have invited me: the sharing is more important than having what the priest says be blahblahyaddaSamariayadda (ok, so it’s either the Woman from Samaria or the Good Samaritan).

I used to go to try to get laid.

People who attend church are stupid, mouth-breathing, shit-for-brains who couldn’t reason their way out a paper bag. The dumbfucks let someone convince them that they suffer from an imaginary, invisible disease, that only the imaginary, invisible sky person can cure. So they show up to follow the priest’s arbitrary guidance and fork over their cash, and in return he gives them reassurance and validation that they are actually good people, and not just a bunch of dumb motherfuckers.

There is no force so evil or manipulative as religion, but these shit-eaters just line up for it and ask for seconds. It must take a truly remarkable kind of stupid to fall for this bullshit.

Don’t edit yourself, JB. Tell us what you really think.

Oh, this is the Cliffs Notes version. Definitely.

Bless your heart.

Moderator Note

If you want to make posts like this, the Pit is thataway. ->

If you are going to post in this type of thread in IMHO, dial it way back.

You must be a really fun person at parties.

p.s. Any of the above may be the correct answer. Sincere Christians (and people of other faiths who go to Gurdwara, synagogue, mosque, etc.) do this so they can fellowship with other like-minded believers.

There really aren’t as many pastors as the number of churches may indicate. Many pastors have a “weekday” job and just preach on Sundays instead of being a full-time pastor, or more than one church may share a pastor; the above is often done by small congregations. The ones who share a pastor usually do things like this: First Lutheran has their services at 9am, and Main Street Lutheran in the next town has theirs at 11am, and both churches have Sunday School at 10am. Others may use lay preachers, depending on the denomination.

I enjoy it. It anchors the end of my week and the beginning of a new one and even though my faith and denomination have changed it gives me a connection to all the past weeks that have made up my life. It can be my regular church/building or some place where-ever that I may never see again but I want to be there; for me and just for me if for no other reason.

Yeah, there’s a reason why you can often trace the ethnic background of a population by seeing what the most popular church is.

At the present time, I am married to pastor, so I don’t really have much choice.

But in general, long before I got married, reasons were: (1) Spend time with God. (2) Enjoy a happy, low-stress environment. (3) Hang out with a group of wonderufl, kind, supportive, intelligent people.