I imagine that every person who attends regular church services has a unique answer to this question. So, let me suggest a universal answer to which we all can relate. Primarily, we go to church to be ministered to. After all, you can go other places to learn, to partake of community, and to sing. There is no lack of charitable and other organizations that could benefit from our skills and energy. But church is one place where the primary mission of the enterprise is to provide ministry.
Let me immediately clarify that I do not see the function of ministry to be the sole province of so-called “ministers.” Yes, I have jumped through certain hoops of preparation so that I can function among the various types of ministry. But, long before I attended seminary, I taught religious education classes and advised youth groups – activities that I considered to be youth ministry. In this broadest sense, every one of us is capable of ministering to others.
So I will amend my answer to the title question. Primarily, we go to church to be ministered to and to minister to others. Your presence in a worship service alone is enough to be a part of the ministry of a church. Worship is the group celebration of that which is of worth, and religion is the binding together again and again of people in community. Each person brings with them absolutely unique experiences, attitudes, and emotions that enhance the flavor of the religious stew within a church. Salty or sweet, bitter or soothing, each of us contributes a necessary and valuable ingredient to a successful church community.
So, on those Sunday mornings when the newspaper and coffee maker beckon, remember the special richness that church offers. One never knows when the spark of enlightenment will flicker into a flame of transformation. And we never know when our presence may produce a special moment of joy for another.