What Do We Seek At Church?

507110_binocularIf we see ourselves as sinners (damned by our thoughts, words and deeds) we will go to church to hear the Gospel Word and to be gifted the forgiveness of sins in the Sacraments. However, if we reject original sin and see ourselves as morally neutral, we will go to church to be encouraged in our pursuit of being more moral, achieving an anthropocentric goal, and actualizing our purpose. In the first scenario, the churchman goes to church hungry knowing that he will receive free warm bread. In the second scenario, the churchman goes to church denying both his need of the free bread and the gift of the warm bread, yet wanting recipes and pointers on how to make the bread himself.

About Pastor Matt Richard

Rev. Dr. Matthew Richard is the pastor at Zion Lutheran Church of Gwinner, ND. He was previously a Senior Pastor in Sidney, Montana, an Associate Pastor of Spiritual Care and Youth Ministries in Williston, North Dakota, and an Associate Pastor of Children and Youth in Rancho Cucamonga, California. He received his undergraduate degree from Minot State University, ND and his M.Div. from Lutheran Brethren Seminary, MN. His doctor of ministry thesis, from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MO, was on exploring the journey of American Evangelicals into Confessional Lutheran thought. Pastor Richard is married to Serenity and they have two children. He enjoys fishing, pheasant hunting, watching movies, blogging, golfing, spending time with his family and a good book with a warm latte! To check out more articles by Pastor Matt you can visit his personal blog at: www.pastormattrichard.com.


What Do We Seek At Church? — 3 Comments

  1. Pr. Richard – I think you have either presented church attendance as a false dichotomy or overlooked a third (better?) option. Certainly, we go to church to hear the Gospel and to be assured of our forgiveness. But, if we go to church with the confidence that we will hear the Gospel and the assurance of forgiveness, aren’t be also going to church to be equipped to be the faithful presence of Christ in our broken world?

  2. @Johan Bergfest #1


    You bring up a very good point my friend.

    The one concern that I have is that it is easy to make Jesus a means to another end, rather than the end. Let me give an example by contrasting two positions.

    -Jesus is the means to every spiritual blessing; He is a means to another end (i.e., Jesus helps me attain and equips me for holiness and joy.)

    -Jesus is the source of every spiritual blessing; He is the end (i.e., Jesus is my holiness and joy.)

    With that said, the brief post highlights the different motives of going to church based on one’s presupposition of original sin. When one understands their depravity, they go to receive warm bread. When one rejects the second article of the Augsburg Confession, they unfortunately go to church denying their need of the free bread and the gift of the warm bread, yet wanting recipes and pointers on how to make the bread himself.

    Thanks for your comment/post. God’s grace and peace to you today and as you attend the divine service tomorrow.


  3. “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. […] If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”
    John 15:4, 10-11 ESV

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