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Thinking the Faith, Praying the Faith, Living the Faith is written by the PC(USA) Office of Theology and Worship.

Thinking, praying, and living the faith is at the core of ministry in the Office of Theology and Worship. In the following videos, learn more about what thinking, praying, and living the faith means to the leadership of the Office of Theology and Worship. Discover why it matters and what difference it makes in our lives, work, and worship.  

Charles Wiley  
Barry Ensign-George
David Gambrell
Christine Hong 
Karen Russell

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August 15, 2013

Why Do We Need the Church Anyway?

Many people today are asking this question, if they even think about the church at all.  The Rev. Tara Woodard-Lehman, Presbyterian chaplain at Princeton University, has created a stir with her article “Do You Really Need Church?”  on The Huffington Post earlier this week.  It received so much feedback that there was a  follow-up video conversation with Tara and other religious leaders.  Check it out.    

Many people filling our pews grew up with church being about human community.  While this is certainly one aspect of church, it is insufficient in and of itself.  Church reminds us of who we are and why we’re here, as Tara says.  Hopefully, it also connects us with the sense of the holy, transcendent Creator who loves us, as seen mostly clearly in Jesus the Christ.    

What’s interesting about all of this is that many of the comments that Tara’s original post received were painfully negative about the church.  It would be too easy to look at these comments and sneer about deplorable anthropology and theology.  Instead of reacting defensively to the negativity of those posts (as though God would need US to defend the Creator of the universe!), I wonder what would happen if we could engage real people in real pain in real conversation that simply listened empathetically to how the church has fallen short.  Dismissive scoffers notwithstanding, underneath all the complaints that Tara's post received, there’s a longing for Something More than what they experienced of the church, a sort of “had-hoped” wistfulness that the first followers of Jesus had after witnessing the torture that human beings can devise for one another. 

Once we’ve heard the pain and helped people articulate the holy longing of their restless hearts, then, and only then, can we tell them the good news: despite the pain that good religious folks can inflict, there is resurrection hope; all that is broken, including the church and each of us, is being made new in Christ.  But without the church to help us see and live in accord with this, we’ll miss out.    

What would you say to those asking why we really need the church?   

Tags: church, ecclesiology, evangelism, gospel