Wednesday, July 21, 2010

"Going to Church Doesn't Make You a Christian . . .

any more than standing in a garage makes you a car."

So one of my friends posted on FB this morning.  I've read it before, but I still chuckled, and then I started to think about it.

True enough: if you stand in a garage, you won't become a car.  But ~ assuming that there is a car in there with you ~ you might learn something about cars.  What they look like, feel like, smell like (ok, not me on the last one ~ but most people have a sense of smell).  If you decide to co-operate with or participate in the car (depending upon whether your car theology is Catholic or Protestant) by hopping in and going for a drive, you'll find out how a car sounds and what it can do.  How it can help you and what its limitations are. It can transform your life by moving you 600 miles in a day; it can completely mess up your life via a damaged transmission or broken clutch.

I don't have to drag out the analogy, do I?  If you stand in a church, your senses might tune in to what it is to be a Christian.  If you decide to go for a drive, whether by standing up and singing during worship or by taking the big leap to make a retreat or go on a mission trip, you'll learn a little bit about what Christianity is and does.  If you hang out in a church long enough, you'll discover its transformative powers and its limitations.

The astonishing thing is that ~ while no matter how long you stand in a garage or how thoroughly you get to know your car, you will never, in fact, become a car ~   if you go to a church you might, in fact, become a Christian. 


  1. I like your reflection on this. I have seen it a couple of times and it bothered me and I wasn't sure why. I think because it seems judgmental. We can't tell what happens when others go to church.

  2. I'm interested in your distinction between co-operate with or participate in. Which do you see as Catholic and which do you see as Protestant?

    I miss your old blog's commenting feature which allowed e-mail of subsequent comments. It usually takes me three or four steps to comment here and sometimes I just abandon it but it is a second chance to make sure I really wanted to post a comment.

  3. when I spoke to a minister 12 years back about joining his church, all he said about what I had to do was to come along for the journey. Here I am.

  4. yup. I do know a lot of folks who just want to stand in the garage...sigh...

  5. I love the way you work this analogy.

  6. With all its flaws and foibles, the church is still a beautiful thing and does much good in the world and for eternity. So glad I am a car in the garage. Very encouraging.