My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, (John 17:20).

This week, I’m thinking about the ‘why’ of attending church. It’s a good question, especially considering things like COVID-19 restrictions, and travel time, and the fact that, while focused on God, churches are run and populated by people. And people mess up in so many ways!

So, I try to think about a couple of key truths:

We are created by and in the image of a God who not only loves us but who imagined, designed, and then formed us to enjoy the experience of community. Simply put, we need one another, and church is a community built around the complete expression of God in Jesus.

At church, I am encouraged in my commitment to worship The Creator, I am inspired and instructed by The Holy Spirit, and I grow in my desire to know Jesus.

To the extent that I am immersed in the life of a church, I am following Jesus. Church is not only somewhere I can go to gather strength but also a body I can in turn strengthen—and encourage, and fill with God’s light via my participation.

One question I like to ask when I guest speak at churches is this: “If this church suddenly ceased to exist, would it make any difference? Would the surrounding community even notice?”

I go to church, then, not just to worship God, not just to be inspired by the Spirit and not just to know Jesus, but because a congregation that does all of this, and follows Christ’s command to love, is the beating heart—the living soul—of a community.

And if this world, and in particular the United States, needs one thing to be stronger in these unsettled and unsettling times, then that is its collective soul.

Simply put, church can be the means of grace by which God brings healing to this broken world. That is not only our privilege, it is our responsibility.

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Derek Maul has written for many news outlets, including the Tampa Tribune, The United Methodist News Service, All Pro Dad, FOCUS Magazine, Newsweek, USA Today, The Christian Science Monitor, Presbyterians Today, Guideposts, Chicken Soup for the Soul and many other publications. Read Derek Maul’s daily blog posts at