Why Go to Church?

Last week, I attempted to answer the question, "Do we have to go to Mass on summer vacation?" But asking that question assumes that we place at least some value on going to Mass the rest of the time—on average Sundays throughout the year. And many people—even many Catholics—simply don't think they "have to" go to Mass at all. So they don't.

Chances are you have family and friends who were raised Catholic but now go to Mass rarely or never. You may have also noticed that the pews are emptier on ordinary Sundays at your parish than they used to be. These experiences are corroborated by statistics, which show that church attendance, participation, and membership are down across the board. As a result, many parishes have been closed or merged in recent years.

Now, we should never lose hope. Jesus is king of heaven and earth. We know that he will triumph in the end because he already defeated sin, death, and the devil on the Cross. But these trends should set off alarm bells. And this isn't just about other people, either. If we're being honest, I think we'd have to admit that we've all been tempted to skip Sunday Mass or cut back our participation at church.

So "Why go to church?" Why are we tempted not to go, why do so many people stop going or never start, and what can we do about it? What can we possibly say to others (and ourselves) that will convince them to go to Mass and encounter Christ there?

Dean of LANE Greg Smith looks for answers to these questions in "Why Go to Church?", a free, two-part online LANE class. Explore this course and take the first step toward being an active participant in the New Evangelization!

— Cory Lakatos, LANE Director of Communications