Exploring Hope: Reasons NOT to visit a new church this Easter

My name is Will Stern. I’m the pastor of Hope Presbyterian, a new church launching regular services this Easter at the Darlington Arts Center in Garnet Valley. I could tell you about myself or our new church, but today, I would like to discuss three reasons you may not be interested in visiting a new church.

1: “I don't want to be the new person.”

I completely understand this reason because I've moved many times in my life. It's always difficult walking into a room where everyone knows each other while you don’t know anyone. Sometimes we’re afraid that visiting a new church will give us flashbacks to socially awkward moments in high school or college. If this is you, then still consider visiting Hope this Easter. We are a new church launching services for the first time. You won't be the “new person” because everyone is new.

2: "I don't know a lot about the Bible and I don't want to feel stupid.”

If you've ever said this, then you're not alone. Most people today have never read the Bible from cover to cover. Even people who have grown up in church often feel like they don't know the Bible as well as they ought. Hope recognizes this reality. We don’t want to make you feel bad about how little you know; we want to help know more. The Bible has changed lives and transformed societies over and over again throughout history. It can change your life as well! This is why the Bible takes center stage at Hope Church. We don't skip around from this passage to that passage, which can be confusing. Rather we work section by section through books of the Bible so that anyone can follow along and go deeper into God’s Word. We also try to set each passage in the context of the Biblical storyline while applying it to everyday life.

3: “I'm too busy.”

This is probably the most common reason. I believe families in Garnet Valley and Chadds Ford are busier than your average American. Our children are doing volleyball, swimming, music lessons, and numerous other activities. Saturdays are filled with errands and projects. Sundays feel like the only time to get ahead for Monday. We may profess a belief in God but spend more time at work, with our family, watching sports, sitting in front of the TV, and processing email than we do worshiping our Creator. Everything seems more important than a vibrant relationship with the God who made and redeemed us.

In saying this, however, I'm not trying to induce a sense of guilt. Guilt is a terrible reason to go to church. Imagine if a husband only took his wife on dates out of a sense of guilt. “Honey, I’m too busy to spend an hour with you each week. Sorry.” That wouldn’t be a healthy relationship. As the faithful husband delights to spend time with his wife out of love, so we should delight to spend time with the God we love.

The Apostle John wrote, “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).

“Propitiation” is a big word we don’t use in day to day speech, but it is beautiful! It means that, though we had rebelled against God and deserve his displeasure, God loved us enough to send his Son to live a perfect life and to die a sacrificial death in our place. God is propitious – favorable — toward us because Christ took our sin upon himself on the cross, died in our place, and rose again from the dead. This sacrificial love should make us want to set aside time to worship our redeemer—not out of guilt but out of gratitude. No one is too busy for this kind of love.

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About Will Stern

Originally from Colorado, Will Stern is the pastor of Hope Presbyterian Church in Garnet Valley. He majored in violin performance for his undergrad and taught violin for a number of years before being called into ministry. He studied theology at Duke University and Westminster Theological Seminary.



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