I love this question! I've been a bit long-winded as usual. Sorry.
There are so many good reasons for going to church, not the least among them, of course, that it's a commandment.
When I've felt drained spiritually/emotionally, I don't know that I would have gone to church if it wasn't already a habit. So, I think going to church just for habit's sake can be important. Many times I've received the spiritual and emotional strength I needed just by attending. I've seen a few friends and family members who've made poor choices and felt guilty, who probably would not have returned to church or repented, if attendance at church had not already been a habit.
Whether feeling poorly or not, I am generally enriched by attending meetings. Sometimes the lessons are particularly good, or I'm strengthened by watching someone else living the gospel, or I run into a friend, or I hear a song that touches me.
Many times I think we go to church not just for ourselves but so we can strengthen others. When we gather as a group, we can support each other, even if it's by silent example or testimony.
Obviously the gospel plan itself is wonderful, but as a parent I've often found that the church and it's programs have been divinely inspired to support our work as parents:
- My socially awkward children have developed friendships they probably would not otherwise have.- My children learn gospel-based reasons for making good choices, not just "because I said so."- My children hear gospel principles, which are taught in the home, reinforced by their teachers at church -- adults who aren't mom and dad so who are a lot more "cool" and trustworthy than we are!- We live in an area with only a small handful of youth who each attend different elementary, middle and high schools. My children draw strength from their church friends while striving to CTR in the world.- By attending church from a young age, my children learned how to be better students at school (sit quietly, be respectful of teacher and students, etc).- My children learn the gospel in new ways at church that I haven't thought of at home, incl learning new songs that support gospel principles. My 11yo ds announced to me the other day that his new favorite song is "I Know That My Savior Loves Me," one of the songs for this year's Primary Sacrament Meeting Program. I have been able to observe the Primary children as they learned this song, and you could see the children feel the Spirit as they learned this song. It was a very enriching experience for the children (and me).- My oldest dd has struggled with some behaviors that have created a lot of emotional upheaval for her over the past couple of years. Recently, as she's participated in the YW personal progress program, she's felt a desire to make better choices and to repent. It has brought her a lot of peace. - Etc., etc., etc.
A sister in a former ward made the comment once that we're all only a couple of weeks away from being inactive. Her husband had been inactive for years. She said after she'd been sick and missed church for a couple of weeks, it was kind of hard going back to church, and she could see why it was so easy for her husband to slip into inactivity. By just missing a couple of weeks, she was already struggling with wanting to go back to church, even though she knew it was the right thing and would bless her.
Despite being a lifelong active member of the church with a testimony of the gospel and the Church, I still regularly struggle with WANTING to attend church or go to the temple or study the scriptures. It's not until after I've forced myself to do these things that I am grateful I've done it. Logically I know it's the right thing to do, but sometimes it's so much work -- esp with children -- that it's not always an easy thing to want to do. It ends up being worth it, though.
Thank you so much for those wonderful thoughts, momnstuff! I could feel so much of your testimony as I was reading.
There was so much that you offered that I feel I can use to include in a FHE discussion with our teenage daughter on why we attend church.
MIne is short and simple,
we go to church to escape from the weekly, worldly things...... I just like to sit back and relax and not worry about members yelling at me because they owe us money because their credit card declined. Or being told that I can't charge people the first months dues because the sign out front of the building say's Absolutely, positively 0 down!
And I love renewing my temple covenants with the sacrament.....