The Motive behind going Church

Church worshipers

The Motive behind going Church By Dr T.E Shobiye [PR]

Text: As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces, (Matt 11:7-8 NIV).

The presence of SOVEREIGN GOD ALMIGHTY is the place where salvation, miracle, deliverance, breakthrough and solution are happening and that is why the presence of GOD ALMIGHTY is the fullest of joy, (Psalm 16:11). Generally speaking, not everybody that comes into HIS presence that receives the miracles he/she needs due to the motives that behind the thoughts of going to the presence of God Almighty. According to our text Matt 11:7-8, some people came to see the John Baptist with a motive to be baptised and saved while some came to question John if he is the Messiah/prophet or Elijah (John 1:19-28). In the same way, not all the people that followed JESUS CHRIST Our FATHER received miracles as a result of their motives, but those that needed to be healed were healed, (Luke 9:11). For instance, many came to see Lazarus if he was truly alive or not while many came as spies to inform Pharisees the miracle performed in waking Lazarus up from the grave, (John 11:45-47).

On the other hand, the woman of issue of blood had the motive of touching the helm of Jesus’ garment for her healing, and she was made whole from the crowd (Mark 5:24-34). On the contrary, the motive why some people came looking for Jesus was because of the foods they wanted to eat, (John 6: 22-27). Jarius came to Jesus and his need was met (Luke 8: 41-56) while some people that were following Jesus never bothered to call the attention of Jesus to their problems due to their motives behind of following Jesus and such motives were to spy, criticise, backbite, speculate etc. In this regards, Jesus performed miracles according to the motives of the person and that is why HE always asks the person what can I do for you because He knew that some people were not with HIM to hear the words that came from HIS mouth but they were there to look for the ways to criticise HIM.

However, there are reasons for going to a particular place. For instance, if a person wants to visit the king in his palace, the person must have genuine reason, because such a person cannot just go and visits the king just for nothing. In a similar fashion, we as Christians have different motives of attending a particular church which is best known to us. Church can be described as a channel of communication that propagate the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ and it is also a presence of God Almighty where all the needs are met as well where the solutions to all problems are found. According to Williams (2014) “Church is the place where imperfect people who know they needed a Saviour, working together to build relationships, help those in need, and to glorify God by striving to be like Christ and share His love with others.” Allison (2012) also states that “The church is the people of God who have been saved through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ and have been incorporated into his body through baptism with the Holy Spirit.”

As a matter of fact, the motive behind going to church varies from one person to another. Our motives for going can contribute positive or negative things into our life because Almighty God rewards a man according to his/her conduct (Jer 17:10 & Jer 32:19). Sovereign God knows all of our motives of attending the church services, and HE pays everybody according to his/her motives, (1 Chro 28:10). Kumuyi (2019) states that “The church is also a place of worship where people gather, but it is clear that some people come there for various reasons other than seeking for salvation.”

Brethren, like JESUS CHRIST asked HIS disciples, what people go to the wilderness to see? The same question goes for us in different forms as:
1 What is the motive behind of our going to church?
2 Why do we go to church?
3 What do we go to church to see?
4 What do we go to church to do?

An Application of Uses and Gratification Theory and Church

There is this theory called Uses and Gratification Theory (UGT). This theory simply describes the motives (reasons) for using mass media (TV, newspaper, magazine, and social media: Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp). This theory gives a clear understanding of what motivates people to proactively use certain media like television, radio, newspaper to fulfill their specific needs, (Shobiye et al, 2018:395). This theory explains why people watch, read, and listen to certain media and media contents, (Nwabueze et al, 2012:2). For example, the table1 indicates an example of the UGT on the views of communication scholars on motives for using traditional media such as the television, newspaper, and motives for using social media.

Media Motives
Television (TV) Motives for watching TV are: for information, education, entertainment, social relaxation, companionship, relief from boredom and instruction, (Shobiye, 2016:174).
Newspaper Motives for reading newspapers are: for education, entertainment, personal identity and escape, (Msoppon, 2012).
Social Media Motive for using social media are: for social interaction, information seeking, pass time, entertainment, relaxation, communicatory utility, convenience utility, expression of opinion, information sharing, and surveillance/knowledge about others, (Whiting & Williams, 2013:365)

Similarly, Uses and Gratification Theory (UGT) is applied deeply in this article to discover the motives of individual for going to church or for attending a particular church. The theory states the reasons individuals are selecting a certain church in order to fulfill their needs. In the UGT, media audiences are considered to be main active participants. likewise, members of a particular church are proactive audience who actively involved in church programmes or activities. In the context of UGT, the churches can be viewed as media and channels of communication in which everybody has preference to choose to attend service of a particular church to satisfy or gratify his/her desires. In other words, the individuals are motivated by basic needs to select and attend particular churches in ways they find personally pleasing.

Also Read: Your Tree and its Fruits

In the meantime, the Bible scholars, contemporary authors and researchers have outlined some motives behind why people going to church. The table 2 shows a few of the motives for going to church:

Table 2: Some of the motives why people go to church

To Hear the Preaching of the Word To meet new people or socialize
Trying to find a spouse To sing in the choir or play instruments.
To Feel Good, Get Inspired To gain a sense of belonging
Opportunity for business contacts The people are friendly and loving
To become closer to God important or influential people attend
To please their family, spouse or partner Because God says so
To Teach Your Kids to Love the Church To Find Godly Mentors
To Exercise my Gift To show off your body or clothes
A good choir, praise band, cantors or other spiritual music To Get my Needs Met
For comfort in times of trouble or sorrow I’m trying to get right with the Lord.
Church building is large & beautiful To glorify and praise Him above everything
To satisfy my every need You really like the preacher: dynamic or handsome
Its where your parents attended The services are exciting
Midweek daycare for your children It is a commandment
For the entertainment For fellowship
To serve Him above all things For signs and wonders
Ethnic, language or race similarities They teach pre-marital sex
Monetary & food gifts for members You are dating one of their members
The church needs me Increase your ability to cope with the trials of life.
It beats staying at home and being alone for position, power & recognition
To be a happy person. For material things
To criticise For division
To steal/defraud Social activities
To fight demons Volunteer opportunities
I love their music For prayer

Discussion on some motives mentioned in the table 2

For the position: some people go to a particular church in order to be elected as a deacon, deaconesses, elders, patron or matron of a particular society in the church. They go to church pretending to like working for God, but their ulterior motive is to get into various positions such as head of usher, choir leader, right hand of the pastor etc. This also happened when John and James requested Jesus to allow them to be sitting at HIS right and left hands, (Mark 10:35-39). “And whoever wants to be first must be the slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many,” (Mark 10:44-45)

For salvation: some people go to church because of thirsty for salvation and to hear and learn new things from the God Almighty through his servants. These kinds of people go to church to seek and serve Sovereign God with their wholehearted devotion. No matter their situations, come rain, come shine they believe that Jesus must be honour. This is a case of Zacchaeus, the tax collector (Luke 19:1-9) and of Nicodemus, one of the Pharisees (John 3: 1-21). “Your spirituality will provoke your prosperity and dedication to God brings satisfaction in life,” (Enenche Paul, 2019).

To backbite or gossip: During the church service, some people look for their friends and sit together and start discussing their fellow members or comments on the people that give testimonies of what God has done for them. These kinds of people also give different signals to their fellow backbiters in the church about their fellow church members. I was once worshiped in one church, the people that I sat with were just discussing each person that gave testimony and discussed about some families in the church. Not all the people call me Lord will inherit the kingdom of God (Matt 7:21).

To belong or for association: some people go to a particular church in order to be associated with the name of the church. Some people go to a particular church so that when they want to organise parties, the church can come to their aid or have church members that are well to do as their friends. I know my sheep and my sheep know me (John 10:14).

For division: some attend a particular church to cause division or confusion among the members. This happens when the pastor rebukes some members for their wrong doings and such people argue with their pastors that “where is it written in the bible that they should be corrected for such behaviour?” these types of members will try to persuade or convince other members to leave the church because pastor corrects them for their bad behaviour or character. These people change churches four to five times as if they are changing clothes, especially when their characters are exposed. God Almighty disciplines those HE loves (Pro 3:11-12; 1Cor11:32 & Rev 3:19) and how happy is the man whom God Almighty corrects (Job 5:7) by accepting instructions and corrections from HIM then Almighty will be our gold and choicest silver for us, (Job 22:22-25). There was a particular brother who was called to order by his pastor on one Sunday and after that Sunday he stopped coming to church. He went to persuade other members who were absent on Sunday that he was rebuked saying that “ He has found a new church that is more spiritual, where miracles are happening, and they should also come and worship in his new church.” “When the devil wants to get a Christian that has good fellowship with other Christians, what he does is to first dissociate that fellow from his fellowship. If a disagreement is about to occur between you and a member of your fellowship, put your ego aside and resolve it quickly,” by Adeboye Adejare.

For relaxation- some people go to church to relax their navels because they believe that they may not be chanced to rest at home, so during the sermon that is when you see such people slumbering even snoring. Such people, we tell you that ‘the service was great today’ but if they are being asked what was the sermon all about, they will be saying what the pastor did not say or give you ten years ago sermon. Some people go to church to read newspaper or use their phone to check what is going around the world while the sermon is still on. Some go to church to reply all of their followers on Whatsapp, Instagram, and Facebook.

For signs and wonders: the reason some people go to church is to receive healing, deliverance or to find solutions to their problems only. Those that came to Jesus for the healing received their healing while some never come to Jesus again after receiving the healing like the nine lepers who did not come to say thank you, (Luke 17:11-19). Bartimaeus the blind man, received his sights, and he followed Jesus to propagate the gospel (Mark 10:46-52) and the madman of gardener received his healing, and he was going from one place to another spreading the good news of Jesus Christ, (Mark 5:1-20).

For the prosperity and material things: the motive why some people go to church is to acquire prosperity and material blessings only. “It is true that there are many personal benefits to be reaped through serving the Lord, but the benefits are never to become our object. In all things, Christ must have the pre-eminence (Col. 1:18),” by Andrew Wommack.

For business transaction and profit: some people go to church to meet buyers or to meet the person they can introduce their businesses out of the church setting. Such people will bring their goods to the church for people to buy especially to the church that has uncountable members. They are like those that sold things in the temple and Jesus Christ chased them away because the house of God Almighty is the house of prayer not the house of buying and selling, (Matt 21:12 &13).

For criticism: some people go to church to appraise and analysis the actions of their pastors. These kinds of people can be called fault-finders. They will be looking for ways to bring their pastors down. This is common to churches that transfer pastors from one church to another. For example, if the elders in such a church do not like the sermon of the pastor especially if the sermon is about salvation, they will be looking for the ways the pastor will be transferred from the church. For instance, the Pharisee that invited Jesus Christ for lunch did not invite Jesus Christ for his salvation, but to finding fault in HIM by pointing to Jesus that his disciples did not wash their hands before eating. The people that brought the harlot woman to Jesus for the judgment came to Jesus in order to use HIS words against HIM, but they failed because JESUS CHRIST, Our Father knew their motive. These kinds of people that have such a motive are referred to hypocrite by Jesus. According to Kumuyi (2019) “Hypocrisy is repulsive but has unfortunately become a lifestyle among many so-called Christians.” Kumuyi (2019) further argues that by accusing or condemning others of what we are also clearly guilty of is simply called hypocrisy, and we must assure that Jesus Christ will never appreciate us for such behaviour. Apart from this, some men of God may be doing something wrongs, it is best to correct them with love or pray for them as the Apostle Paul as suggested (Gal 6:1) but some brethren go to church to spread the mistakes or sins committed by the man of God to their fellow brethren instead of interceding for them in prayers. Copeland (2019) advises that when we receive a message from the Holy Spirit about a situation, we should not spread it all over the town and if we do, we will come to the place where the lord will not trust us with revelation and sight into things and situations. Coupled with this, everything is digitalised, some that cannot make it to church surfing the internet to listen to sermons on YouTube and if the sermons are against their belief, they will make a Voxpop and be seeking individuals’ views on the messages they have heard from a pastor on YouTube. Such people also give a room for the unbeliever to contribute to the spiritual’s affairs. One man once told me that he verifies whatever his pastor is saying on the internet to find out if what his pastor is saying is true or not because his pastor was once made a mistake about one story he told the congregation on one Sunday. “As soldiers, let us cultivate the godly habit of restoring our fallen heroes and heroines,” by Anglican Communion, 2019.

For connections, contacts or job opportunities: some people go to a particular church to meet people who are extremely wealthy for connections or for job opportunities. There was a woman who was a general manager of one big organisation; this woman gave jobs to people who claimed that they were members of her church. For instance, if a person applies for a job in this organisation, the woman will ask a person this question, which church do you go to? if the person mentions the name of the church that is not her church, she would not employ the person, and tell the person that the company will get back to him/her, but if the applicant claims that he/she attends her church, she will ask one or two questions about her church and if the person gets the answer, she will immediately congratulate the person for the job the person applies for. For this reason, some people who are desperate and want to work in this organisation become the church members of where this general manager worships in order to get the jobs. The question is what happens next when a person gets the job in such an organisation, does the person continue or stop attending the church because he or she just attends the church in order to make ends meet.

For stealing/ robbing: some people go to church to steal, defraud the church members. Such types of people go to church to look for who is who and find information about wealthy church members in order to defraud them or steal some articles in the church. For among my people are found the wicked men… (Jere 5:26).

To fulfill righteousness: some people go to church because everyone is going. Such people will be quoting that we should not leave the gathering of the brethren. These classes of people are in the church, but their minds are not in the service even their hearts are far from God Almighty (Isa 13:29 & Matt 15:13). Some people go to church because of their parents.

To show off, impress or suppress: I love people that put on nice fabric or well-dressed with designs on it. In fact, I like to walk up to such people to appreciate their beautiful dresses and fabrics but the question is what motives behind our dressing and makeover to the church, is it to oppress or suppress, to compete or to seduce some brothers in the church. Some brothers go to church to see the beautiful sisters in the choir or in the usher.

For merry merry: some people go to church because of different activities like parties, entertainment, anniversaries, talk show, etc. A lady invited me to her church and I asked her the time the service starts, she told me at 11am and ends at 4pm. I further asked what are they doing till 4pm on every Sunday? She said they sing, dance, do some programmes and eat lunch as well have some snacks provided by the church before the service finishes. Some were looking for Jesus because of the food, even wanted to make HIM as their leader, but HE made them know their motive why they wanted HIM to rule over them, (John 6:1-26). “Life is not all about what to eat, drink or put on, rather it is about transforming lives,” by Okonkwo Mike.

Gratifications sought and Gratifications Obtained

Brethren, having identified some of the motives behind of our going church by using Uses and Gratification Theory, also in Uses and Gratification Theory, there is something called gratification sought and gratification obtained. Gratification obtained can be referred to our needs or motives and when these motives are achieved and satisfied, they can be called gratifications obtained. For instance, all the motives behind going to church that were mentioned above are called gratifications sought and if these motives are achieved and satisfied, they can be called gratifications obtained. For example, in Psalm 34:6, King David says “I sought the Lord (this is gratification sought) and HE answered me (is the gratification obtained). The gratifications obtained are the outcome of the result of gratification sought. For example, if the motive for going to church is to hear the words of God (gratification sought) and if the person receives what he wants to hear according to his desire, this is referred to gratification obtained.

On the contrary, not all the motives (gratification sought) can be acquired and satisfied (gratifications obtained) especially if they are based on wrong motives. For instance, some people are looking for Jesus because of the food (gratification sought) and Jesus told them that they were looking for Him because of the foods and HE advised them to be focused on spiritual foods not physical foods. These people were annoyed and left Jesus and in this way, their gratifications obtained were not acquired because the foods they wanted were not found. Moreover, the rich young man in the Bible was not satisfied with what Jesus asked him to do and in this way there was no gratification obtained because he was sad and turned back because of the condition Jesus gave to him (Matt 19:16-22). In addition, some people left Jesus because they found HIS teaching very hard because their motives for following Jesus are not meant (John 6: 60-66). However, Jesus asked the 12 disciples if they want to leave too but, Peter said “Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:67-70).This also means that the disciples’ gratification sought was to follow Jesus in order to receive the fountain of life and they received it which was gratification obtained. All the motives of King Saul towards David were not achieved because they were wrong motives.

Nevertheless, if the motive of a person is to seek for the salvation of God, such a person can search for his/her gratification obtained in the church like church in Philadephia, (Rev 3:7-13). Andrew, the Peter’s brother was an example of this type because when John told his two disciples that they should look at the Lamb of God, Andrew was one of the disciples. Immediately, Andrew and his fellow disciple heard this statement from John “Look at the Lamb of God,” they both left John and followed Jesus (John 1:35-42). Nicodemus the Pharisee (John 3:1-16) and Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10) were also sought for salvation, and they found their gratifications obtained.

Moreover, if a person is looking for merry merry church (gratification sought), the person can look for the churches like the church of Pergamum, who holds to the teaching of Balaam and Nicolaitans where his gratification obtained will be gratified, (Rev 2:14-16).

In addition, if the motive of a person for going to church is to seduce the pastor, which is gratification sought and if the motive is not gratified or there is no gratification obtained, she can look for the church that tolerant Jezebel and immorality like the church in Thyatira (Rev 2:20-25), where her gratification obtained will be actualised and satisfied.

Conclusion and Recommendation

Brethren, one thing about the church is this, the church will never reject anybody that comes to fellowship, and the church will always sing to the new members that they are welcome in the name of God. But many followed Jesus during HIS lifetime, but few received salvation. Base on the analysis of the motives why people go to church, it can be established that our mindsets are the main drivers of our motives for doing what is right or wrong. Jesus Christ also states that “For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person,” (Mark 7: 21-23). We must always yield to the warning of the Apostle Paul which says “We must purify ourselves from everything that contaminates our body and spirit,” (2 Cor 7:1). We can purify our minds by continuously feeding our minds with words of God and this will make our minds to be focused on things above, not earthly motives (Romans 8: 6-8). Olukoya (2019) reveals that a life of peace occurs when the mind is set on the things of the spirit while a mind that is set on things of the flesh experiences hostility towards God. We must persistently transform our minds to disregard and reject wrong motives (Romans 12:1-2) because some people take actions according to what their minds tell them to do. Oyahkilome (2019) observes that our minds influence our emotions and our will. He further points out that our minds control the character of our personalities than anything else and as Christians we must take full control of our mind and as well renew our minds with the words of God. In brief, we must boldly say no to any wrong motives, that our mindsets may give for going to church because we have the power to control and subdue any thought that cannot be identified in the Jesus’ identity, (2Cor 10:5). “God’s Word helps you discover the real you and improves the quality of your life from within. Be transfigured and translated by the renewing of your mind; by feeding and nurturing your spirit with the Word, you change the way you think,” by Oyahkilome Chris

Above all, it is suggested that whatever, behind our motive of going to church, let our significant motive (gratification sought) base on salvation because the bible says “Seek first the kingdom of GOD ALMIGHTY…” (Matt 6:33). We should constantly remember that on the judgement day, it is the church that Sovereign God will first begin the judgment (1 Peter 4:17).

Action Quote: “The church is not a centre for entertainment, neither is it a place of commerce as many have turned it. We must understand that seeking for miracles, prosperity, breakthrough, deliverance and so on are not wrong. But to seek for them to the exclusion of the salvation of one’s soul is disastrous. Those who go to church just to admire the pastor’s message, seek for position or wife/husband or to enjoy the service are no doubts lost in the crowd,” by Kumuyi William.

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The above article was written by Dr T.E Shobiye [PR]

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