Why go to church?

By The Rev. Bill Danaher

Let me begin with a confession. Before the pandemic, I spent a great deal of time exploring sites where multiple communities interacted with each other. I organized conferences and collaborated with museums, in particular the Detroit Institute of the Arts and the Charles Wright Museum of African American History. I wanted to develop relationships in which Christ Church Cranbrook could be present beyond the walls of our church. My hope was to learn something from these incredible institutions about how to gather and energize their patrons.

However, the pandemic taught me an unexpected lesson: that the church matters more than what we do at museums. The church matters more not only to me, as you might expect, but to everyone.

The numbers alone tell the story. According to a recent essay in Artnet, attendance at museums post-pandemic has plateaued at 62% of what it was before the pandemic.

By contrast, as soon as we reopened, parishioners and visitors found ways to be with us, either in person or online. We continue to grow and thrive, thanks be to God. Our membership is growing, and our current attendance continues to climb.

I believe this is because Christ Church Cranbrook is not just a place, but a space. A place has a definable location and specific dimensions of length, width, and height. Spaces, on the other hand, have something infinite about them. Spaces touch us and transform us.

This distinction is critical to note. By the grace of God, we now have a renovated and expanded program center. The energy we all feel in this new physical place is palpable. Many have compared our new Atrium favorably with the DIA’s Kresge court.

But what is truly special about Christ Church Cranbrook is that we create space for grace. Our worship, our study, and our work together touch us and transform us. Every place becomes a space for grace when God’s presence is felt.

The space for grace Jesus shows the world happens through us. Christ’s love and grace become clear when we become present, or give something up, or surrender, or make room. This is why following Jesus matters so much. This is why this church matters so much to so many of us.

Our Stewardship theme this year is “space for grace.” Standing behind this theme is all the work we do as a church through our staff, our programs, our events, and our services. As your faithful commitment to support the church in 2023, your pledge creates that space for grace here.

  • Your financial pledge creates the space for grace within us, by supporting our pastoral work and worship services and the many other ways that we welcome and lift everyone up spiritually.
  • Your pledge cultivates the space for grace between us, by funding our many programs, missions, outreaches, and ministries that help us gather, learn, and grow.
  • Your pledge reveals the space for grace beyond us through our many worship services, which fulfill our heart’s desire and give us the assurance that Christ’s reconciling love will guide us.

In all these ways, your pledge plays a critical role in creating this space for grace at Christ Church Cranbrook.

As we finally move past the pandemic and inhabit our new program space, I ask for your help in creating this space here and now in a world that needs it now more than ever. In the coming weeks, we will be inviting everyone who considers Christ Church Cranbrook to be their spiritual home to make a pledge to support and empower our mission and ministry in 2023.   Will you please join me in prayerfully considering a sacrificial gift that will help us to create Space for Grace at Christ Church Cranbrook and beyond?

For more information about pledging click here or email Rev. Chris Harris at charris@christchurchcranbrook.org 

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