What Does it Mean to “Go” to Church?


We’ve all heard the expression: Go to Church.

But is Church simply a place I go? The answer to that is pretty straightforward: no.

Before we go any further, though, we need to be clear: what is Church? Is it a building? Is it a thing?

If we’re honest with ourselves, I think most of us would answer yes to these questions: Church is a place we go, a building we visit. Or maybe we think of it as an organization, a kind of religious non-profit.

But that answer is unsatisfying, isn’t it? There are one hundred sixty eight hours in the week. How many are spent in the physical place we call church? One or two?

If church is a thing we go to, then it becomes an awfully small part of our lives.

If it’s just another organization, what makes it important for our salvation?

Let’s take a step back and ask the question again: what is Church? Actually, let’s ask it a different way:

Who is Church?

The Church is the household of God. Not the physical house, but the people who live in it, the family within those walls who are united in love.

The Church is the Body of Christ. And we are each members of this larger body, each with something special to offer, each playing a crucial role.

In other words, we are the Church. We are the saints, the holy people of God. We are the very Body of Christ, connected to him more intimately that the union even of husband and wife, or parent and child.

We, as a Body, are called to pray, not to my father, but to Our Father.

So, can we stay home and not bother going anywhere Sunday morning?

Maybe we need to first consider what Liturgy really is.

When we attend Liturgy, we’re not going to Church. We’re assembling as Church.

We don’t gather to watch someone else act out a sacred play, as if we’re nothing but spectators. We gather to participate, to offer ourselves, to live, truly live, in God’s Kingdom.

We certainly don’t gather to watch a holy magic trick, to simply see bread and wine transformed into Christ’s Body and Blood. We go there to offer ourselves, and all of creation, up to God in that bread and wine. And when we receive Christ’s Body and Blood in return we literally receive it, we eat it so that we, too, can be transformed into His Body. We receive His Body so that we can be (and because we are) His Body.

Then comes the Liturgy after the Liturgy. We’re called, not simple to act in the world, but to sanctify it. By being the salt of the earth, we make the whole world salty. By shining the Light of Christ into the darkness, we make the whole world bright. By offering up the whole world to God, we raise the whole world to Church. In this way, all things can be gathered to God and find their place as Church, in God’s Kingdom.

By God’s grace, and according to His will. Amen.