If you attend a church, what about it appeals to you?

Evangelical Protestant and nondenominational churches are the fastest-growing bodies of faith in Minnesota, according to a recent count. Meanwhile, Roman Catholic and traditional Protestant churches are losing membership. Today’s Question: If you attend a church, what about it appeals to you?

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  • kim

    I don’t attend a church right now, because I haven’t found the right church. I did attend when lived in Oklahoma. What I liked about that church was that it embodied most of the important concepts of Christianity. All the members where important and valued for their unique abilities. Each was part of “the body of Christ” and each part was equally important. I have never seen joy like I saw in that church, consistently, regardless of external circumstances. The members were there for each other and for the community. It was, to use a much over used word “awesome”. I hope I can find such a church home again.

    One of the things I particularly liked was that there was no rigid structure. There was no liturgy, as such. Each day was unique. To me, the “spirit of God” was allowed to work freely and suggest how the service was going to run. For example, on the Sunday before Hurricane Katrina struck, the pastor began his sermon by saying he’d been contemplating how to pray in the face of a hurricane and that he had no answer. He threw the topics open to the congregation and what followed was an interesting and enlightening discussion that drew on the unique experiences of those present.

    Great place, great experience! I really miss it!

  • Jamison

    A few years ago, I converted from Evangelical Protestantism to the Roman Catholic church. What appealed to me most was the connection with historic tradition going back to the time of the apostles, as well as liturgy and disciplines that help me connect spiritually. I also appreciate the reliance on Tradition in addition to Scripture for guidance in Catholic theology.

  • Stella Townsend

    I belong to Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in south Minneapolis. The reason: the people of this congregation are absolutely dedicated to inclusiveness (all are welcome-no exceptions). They are dedicated to the principle that Jesus taught – take care of those on the margins of society – the poor, the disenfranchised making sure their human rights are recognized. Worship is diverse, yet liturgical – and reflects the priorities of this congregation.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Oh, please. The only topic that on these pages that generates more uninformed rants than politics is religion. At least with politics, MPR staff know how to ask intelligent questions.

  • Steve (the wonder dog)

    If it weren’t for the patrician Protestants, their power and their superiority, there would be a lot fewer St. Ignatiuse’s and Cedar-Sinai’s.

  • Jim G

    The long and winding road that is this wanderer’s spiritual life begins with the Lutheran Church through early adulthood, then an independent Evangelical Church for 20 years. For this self-professed Christian, Christian charity and love were not on display during a traumatic divorce. This changed life in ways that are still unfolding. It was the beginning of years of spiritual quest: What does it mean to be a Christian if my own church shows no compassion to congregants in spiritual need. Where is the love? Where is the gospel? Where is Jesus? Where is the evidence Christians live here? It seemed that in this church being a Christian meant being a Republican. Is that the Good News? If it is, good-bye and good riddance.

    Ten years later, my wife and I have become members of a Universalist Unitarian Church. We are finding acceptance, challenge, inspiring music, service, time for introspection, and open minds. The long and winding road ….

  • Melina

    I like attending our church for the sense of community, friendships and discussions that happen there.

  • Sue de Nim

    The question is misguided. It assumes that one shops for a church as a consumer of a service, that finding something appealing is the principal motivation for attending, and that mere attendance is what defines participation in a worshiping community. If my choice of a church were merely about what I get out of it, I wouldn’t have a good enough reason to attend. It’s also about being a part of a community with ancient roots, seeking truth, and having a place in the outworking of God’s plan– being on God’s team, as it were. Believing that Jesus Christ is the embodiment of all this, I chose a church where members are exhorted to be agents of God’s love in the world, caring for the “least of these” by what we say and do. If you’re a Christian, you should choose a church, not for what you get out of it, but for what it brings forth from you.

  • Lance

    I know it should be hearing the saving message of forgiveness and redemption through Jesus Christ, and being shown how the Old Testament lamb figures are all precursors forshadowing the One Perfect Lamb sacrificed for all mankind, and that’s definitely a part of it.

    The fellowship, or connectedness with the other church members is my biggest reason for regularly attending our church. When we attended a larger, growing church, we always felt like we didn’t know anybody and nobody knew us. We now drive quite a ways to attend a smaller, more rural church and the people are welcoming and wonderful – salt of the earth. They’re not pretending to be Christians on Sunday only, they are genuinely loving people.

  • Philip

    We’ve all heard the WWJD acronym, but I like WWJDIM – What Would Jesus Do In Me. My church is dedicated to reaching and teaching all people with the life-changing message of Jesus Christ and my part in this mission at Grace Evangelical Free Church in Fridley is what answers the WWJDIM question.

  • Aubrey

    I recall an instance where a man put ministering to sinners over religious orthodoxy, flaunting it in front of the religious establishment. Apparently it ended up with the guy being nailed to a crucifix.

    God has always had trouble with the ground personnel.

  • Brie Marie

    I am a regular attendee and lay leader at Humble Walk Lutheran in Saint Paul. I also work in 2 churches. For me the church is fuel for my sense of community, justice and service. I am lucky to be part of congregations who serve coffee on street corners, discuss theology in dive bars, and open art galleries. I get to know people from all walks of life, learn who they are, and be present in their lives. Their is beauty in every conversation and every interaction. It equips me to love people and fight for justice.

  • Jean

    I attend church (Unitarian Universalist) for spiritual sustenance and the joy of the message of universal love; the rewards of being part of a supportive, loving community; mind opening and thought provoking Sunday services; the means to support vital efforts to create social justice; and for friendship with amazing, caring people.

  • Larry M.

    Everybody likes a little fantasy and the architecture is great.

  • Allie

    The message and fellowship.

    So many American Christians pay so little attention to the difficult demands that Jesus made, while clinging fiercely to the ancient Hebrew stories in Genesis, that I wonder why they don’t convert to some ultra-Orthodox sect of Judaism. But that’s pretty demanding, too. Easier to be an Old Testament Christian. Then all you have to do about Jesus is believe that he is Christ, and then you can forget about the other stuff he said.

  • DMox

    I think this trend will continue, and the reason is simple…..the more the fundamentalist and Catholic church gets involved in exclusionary politics, the less people will want to attend. The more they become fringe, the less likely they are to attract anyone but fringe. Setting aside particular tenets and interpretations of the Bible, it’s a simple equation: Inclusion attracts, exclusion repels.

  • Ann

    I left our long family tradition of the ELCA. I love the Evangelical Free Church, based in Minnesota..It puts the Bible first and most of the people actively seek the will of God.This life is short compared to eternity and because of the Savior I can spend eternity with Him in heaven.Your eternal life can start right now with Jesus. Your life can have meaning whether you live one year or 100 years.Since the Creator knows what is best for us, obedience brings the most joy. The Devil deceives me and much pain results. I need to walk more closely with God through prayer(It is the National Day of Prayer) and Bible reading.

  • Knott Realname

    I would love to be able to sing together and be uplifted together, and yes PRAISE.

    Unfortunately I am targeted for hatred because I was born gay.

    Oh, they say I chose it. Either they are nutz or I am, because who in their right mind would choose to be so ostracized, rejected, and yes hated –and please, no ‘we hate the sin, but love the sinner’ nonsense.

    I hope they are satisfied with the number of suicides among young people which they are directly responsible for.

    What DID I love about it? Singing, rejoicing, loving, and BEing loved …….until.

  • withheld by request

    I am a member of one of the Catholic churches that was merged. Prior to the merger, my church was actually doing well financially and pastorally. We were a small but very active congregation, with contemporary Mass celebrations, robust educational programs for all ages and myriad ways to engage and minister to our community and the world at large.

    We were merged with a church saddled by debt, with an aging membership and fewer young families. The Archdiocese made the other church the “receiving” church, assigning its pastor to oversee both that location and mine.

    The results have been like watching a train wreck in slow motion. When the merger first happened, the priest promised to not disturb the things at our parish that were so successful. Little by little he’s chipped away at all the things that made our church a part of our family. He’s squeezed out talented and trained professionals in favor of his cronies, eliminated self-supporting programming ostensibly in the name of budgeting, and Masses now seem to be more about what he wants to say and do rather than what his flock needs. He is rude and disrespectful and demands to be treated by others as infalliable. He has a horrible temper, and is prone to outbursts and tantrums. He protects and glorifies the establishment Church with the same arrogant vigilance that has drawn the wrath of millions (if not billions). He is slowly killing my church.

    My heart breaks now every time I walk through the door of my spiritual home. So many of my brothers and sisters in Christ have left for other parishes. I pray that, when he’s reassigned (which I hope is soon), the hundreds of people who he’s driven away will come back.

  • georges

    “If you attend a church, what about it appeals to you?”

    “If you attend a church…”

    “If you attend a church…”

    “If you attend a church…”

    Ummmmmmm……..Seems there are alot of graduates of modern American High Schools posting to this question……

  • ~Simon~

    No one is forced to be Catholic. If you claim to be Catholic, then you are expected to follow Catholic teachings. If you follow something else (whether good-hearted or not), you are not being a Catholic. It seems pretty simple to me.

    The Catholic Church is doing what it is supposed to do — setting forth the parameters of what it is to be Catholic. The nice thing about America is that if you don’t like it, you have a plethora of other religions to pick and choose from. The sad thing about American neo-Catholics is that they expect the Church to reflect their democratic sensibilities: Some folks believe the Church should adapt to its membership, instead of the other way around. They don’t seem to understand or appreciate that it is the membership that adopts the teachings of the Church they have chosen to join. Unlike politics, religion does not (or at least should not) change according to the whims of prevailing public opinion.

  • Garrett

    When I got to church it has to have at minimum good music and a decently good pastor that loves Jesus and preaches the bible. At present I go to Substance but once I return home from college I am not sure where I will go. I really liked Wooddale because of Leith Anderson was a very good preacher. I wasn’t going to the main services but the sunday evening service called the Gathering. What originally drew me to that church and that service wasn’t Leith, because I hadn’t heard of him before hand,but the music. But Leith retired last year and a part from him I wasn’t really impressed with the other pastors that preached there. So I don’t that I’ll go back.