Why do Christian Scientists go to Church?

The active campaign recently waged by the Protestant churches of the United States in furtherance of an enlarged church attendance, has called wide attention, by way of contrast, to the satisfying nature of the Christian Science church service. It has also aroused much serious inquiry as to just why, without the lure of personal preaching, the charm of ritual, music, or other adventitious aids, the problem of a full church attendance is to Christian Scientists no problem at all. This is a fair question which deserves cordial recognition, and the attempt to answer it may not be without value to those of us who enjoy the Christian Science service but who have not stopped to analyze the secret of its power.

That the problem of church attendance and support is not a local one, is evident from discussions appearing from time to time in the foreign reviews. A very frank clergyman discusses in the Hibbert Journal (January, 1914) the question, "Why has the Church of England failed?" After eliminating as unimportant the "mental unrest" and unbelief born of "current scientific and intellectual movements," he reduces his analysis of the causes underlying non-support of church services to a sort of "spiritual slackness" which has taken possession of its communicants, due to their greater absorption in so-called "temporal pursuits and enjoyments."

Without question, the church has lost its ancient hold on the minds of men as a divine arbiter, having in its keeping the keys of the kingdom. It is, however, or should be, taking its true place as a rallying ground for spiritual cooperation and culture, a radiating center of religious inspiration and comfort. The responsibility of the individual for his own spiritual estate and vision is taking its rightful place, which was formerly usurped by ecclesiastical authority and dogma. The modern man accepts this responsibility and chooses his own way of meeting it. As to whether he dawdles along the paths of least resistance, or exerts himself on the heights of spiritual aspiration and strong desire for self-betterment, depends entirely on the quality of his own moral fiber. If a chair by the fireside, with slippers and a book, makes a stronger appeal on a man's affection than the inspiration of the church service, then the fireside wins the day. If material comfort is of more concern to one than spiritual culture, then church attendance and church interests must suffer. Unless, on the other hand, the church has a message to offer which is peculiarly its own, a message manifestly effective and inviting, it is falling lamentably short of fulfilling its mission.

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Uses of Adversity
June 20, 1914

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