A friend whom I respect and like very much joined a Facebook group called “Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car”
On the face of it the statement sounds plausible. It points to the boringly obvious: i.e. the hypocrisy of some church attendees. We all know about this. It’s an “all too easy” target, at which any cynic can shoot with impunity.
But it is a demonstrably foolish statement. It ignores the fact that:
1. Those who attend Church are constantly urged, in scripture and in sermon, to move away from complacency to engagement. (You do not get that in bed of a Sunday morning!)
2. Those who attend Church encounter folks who are hard to like. Being in Church reminds them that they are called to love the unlovable. (That does not happen at Sunday brunch with one’s best friends!).
3. Those who attend Church are very frequently called upon to examine their lives and to move from selfish desire to deep compassion. (You’ll not get that message from the Sunday morning T.V. talk shows).
4. Those who attend Church will be challenged to sacrifice personal well being in favour of the good of all humanity. (That’s not the message of the “Tea Party”, nor of shows such as “The Apprentice”)
5. Those who attend Church will learn that giving is more important that acquiring. (A seditious and very un-American concept.)
6. Those who attend Church will be connected with a 2000 year old history of failures and successes. (American history is all about success and not a bit about failure).
7. Those who attend Church will eat a little bit of bread, and drink a tiny sip of wine. The bread and wine will remind them of their solidarity with all of humankind; and of their awe in the face of the mystery of the universe. (Try that alone in your garage!).