Recently I was reading an article entitled, Top 8 Reasons People Visit Museums. The link to the full article is below. I was struck by the similarity between the reasons people visit museums and the reasons people visit Churches.
The author notes that museums are to inspire, engage, and educate visitors. Museums are open to everyone and exhibit artifacts, art, and antiques from different eras. There are many different types of museums, and they include art, history, science centers, zoos, aquariums, nature centers, and botanic gardens, just to name a few. People look to museums for various reasons, regardless if there are some who don’t understand the hype.
Surely, its not hard to imagine that Churches also are called to inspire, engage and educate. They are open to everyone, and depending on what Church is being visited, there are often times beautiful pieces of art, paintings, stained glass, antique furniture - even from different eras. And there are different types of Churches - especially Catholic Churches - that attempt to make God present in this age. Finally, people also look to Churches for various reasons - to be quiet, to present their needs to God, to worship, and the list goes on.
Using the author’s list of eight, perhaps we can gain deeper insight into some of the reasons people visit Churches.
1. Changes your perspective
Churches call us to change - our perspective, our attitudes, even our practices because it gives us a new outlook on things. Churches ask us to see things from Christ’s perspective and see life in a completely different way. Churches inspire change.
2. Makes you happy
The author cites a recent study conducted by Harris Interactive found that people are much happier when they spend their money on experiences rather than buying material items. The study notes that experiences create more happiness than material possessions because they provide positive personal reinterpretations over time. Visiting a Church during a worship service - mass, the Rosary, the Liturgy of the Hours, Weddings, etc, while surely “free of charge” allow us to enter the mystery of Christ and to experience his presence and love, which are priceless. His presence and love bring happiness.
3. For inspiration
There are times when we are all feeling down, uninspired, or just need a breath of fresh air. Churches that take seriously the need to have the best Sunday experience can really help. Great music, an interesting and inspiring message, a warm welcome, and the presence of other believers can all provide the necessary inspiration to recharge.
4. To learn something new
Whether we are life-long believers, or newcomers to the faith, Churches can help us to learn - about the Lord, Saints, Sacraments, Scriptures and so much more. One of the main roles of Churches is to educate and engage us and then send us out to bring the message to the world. This is why so many Churches invest in Family Faith Formation, and also Adult Continuing Education programs too! We can never stop learning about faith.
5. To meet like-minded individuals
Churches are great places to meet and connect with people who share the same values and beliefs. By regularly attending and getting involved, one can really begin to maximize the Church experience and transform from being just a visitor to truly becoming a member.
6. For peace of mind
No doubt that everyone deals with stress in life from time to time. Some people choose to turn to yoga, meditation, food, and a host of other things to deal with life’s pressures - including some that are not so positive. However, like museums, Churches offer a quiet place to rest and relax so that you forget about all of life’s demands, at least for awhile. By taking a closer look at oneself and finding a chance to be with the Lord, one can experience a serene and calming effect.
While much like visiting a museum in a place that you have traveled to you can also do the same for a Church - but the purpose is very different. Museums have exhibits that are specific to the area that they are situated in. Visiting a museum while traveling is an interesting way for you to get a feel for the area you’re visiting and enhance your experience with rich insights into the history of your destination, all while having fun exploring your new surroundings. Churches, on the other hand, provide a place to encounter the Lord. Almost everywhere in the world we have this opportunity to turn a simple act of tourism into a profound act of faith.
8. For a good time
While museums can be tons of fun, Churches call us to become the best versions of ourselves - by our encounter with Jesus and one another - and that is truly good!
As society moves further and further away from religion, let’s ensure that we don’t reduce our Churches to museums, because while there surely are similarities - Churches are so much more!