Five Reasons Why Your Congregation Matters

Five Reasons Why Your Congregation Matters

Of course your congregation matters.  Let’s try to put some reasons for this into words.  Here are five reasons why your congregation matters.

StJohnsReason #1:
  It is a gathering space that allows room for human connection.  For heaven’s sake, we need gathering spaces nowadays.  In our highly individualized existence, it is good to have a single place to come together and share life.  I know that Starbucks and schools can provide the same kind of space, but congregations have an older story to contribute and a more wide open future.  Connect.  Accompany.  Assemble.  Interface, if you will.  Congregations are a wonderful place through which to respondto the ancient question, “Won’t you be my neighbor?”

Reason #2:
Where would your local community be without you?  A 2010 study of congregations in Philadelphia by Dr. Ram Cnaan demonstrated that 12 particular congregations in that city contribute $52 million (yes, million) dollars in annual economic value.  That’s an average of $4.3 million dollars per congregation.  The average congregation in Philadelphia contributes $476,663 annually to the common good.  Your congregation matters because it contributes to life beyond the walls of its building.  Thank you!

Reason #3: 
Do you like music?  Do you like to sing?  Congregations are one of the few public spaces where groups of people have the opportunity to participate in music – listening, performing, offering up voices and instruments with and for others.  Most of us don’t sing at work.  Fewer of us have live music at home.   I suppose if you attend a Chicago Cubs game you might sing the national anthem along with the crowd, but for opportunities for singing and playing music are greatly diminished without the presence of the local congregation.

Reason #4:  Congregations are places of learning.  Yes, they are places of learning about religious matters.  That alone is of immeasurable value.  Additionally, many of us learn so many other things in congregations:  everything from how to care for other people to how to manage personal finances.  Both formal and informal learning takes place when people assemble as part of congregational life. 

Reason #5: Congregations, whatever the theology of your faith community, represent a reality beyond that which is comfortably apparent.  As Antoine de Saint-Exupery, author of The Little Prince, wrote, “What is essential is invisible to the eye.”  Congregations represent a way of life that resists reductionist explanations of meaning.  Congregations exemplify an ethic that our human experience is broader and brighter than our imagination.  The mystery is deep.  And congregations are the best place to dive into the inscrutability of life. 

These answers are not going to suffice for some of us.  So, why don’t you give it a try?  Ask your small group or your governing board or your worship team – What are five reasons why our congregation matters?

Tim Shapiro
President