Church: Why Bother? My Personal Pilgrimage

A review by Daisy J. Serrano, Library Member & Contributor

Surveys show more people claimed to be believers than those who attend church regularly. Believers who find the worship services boring and indifferent raised a few questions: Is church really necessary for a believing Christian? Isn’t it enough to read the Bible and know Jesus more? What can I get from church? Philip Yancey’s book centers on this blunt and simple question: Why bother with church? He relates his reflections and experiences on his Christian pilgrimage away from and back to church. He left the fundamentalist church in Georgia because he disagreed with the sermons and felt the church kept him away from Christ by its strict rules. His exposure to the broader world led to his disenchantment with the church. He only returned to church when he began concentrating on his own spirituality and accepted the church family with its imperfections. Yancey urges us to look up, look around, look outward, and look inward to gain a new perspective: see church instead of merely tolerating it. He learned to love the church, which made it easier for him to return. Yancey provides a biblical overview of the purpose of the Church today and why we should be involved in it. He confessed that when he abandoned church, he suffered. His faith began to fade and he became unlovable. Church has filled in me a need that could not be met in any other way (p. 23). This paved the way for a renewed love for God’s church by seeing its true purpose: Christianity is not a purely intellectual, internal faith. It can only be lived in a community (p.23). There are many lessons to learn in this book. Rather than going to church services wondering how they will minister to us, we should go to services to worship God. We should ask ourselves, “How did God view my worship?” rather than the self-centered, “I did not get anything out of that church service.” It is often said that the church is the community of believers. Scott Peck believes that peace would come more naturally if the leaders of hostile states first learn to live in a community, and then work on resolving their conflicts. It is not the other way around: get together and hammer out the peace agreement, and then learn to try and live in peace. The church is a place where people around you are different – socially, financially, professionally, and in preferred worship styles. Thus, on the surface, we have little in common. However, our common commitment to Jesus Christ transcends our differences, giving us much in common. Highly recommended for personal reading as well as group discussions.