"And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church,..." Mt 16:18
According to the Hartford Institute there are an estimated 314,000 Protestant and other Christian congregations (churches) in the United States and about 24,000 Catholic and Orthodox congregations. There are also about 12,000 non christian churches. Please keep in mind that there are also thousands of churches opening and closing every year, so the estimates are rough.
The largest churches in membership are as follows:
Catholic Church 68,000,000
Southern Baptist 16,000,000
United Methodist 7,700,000
Morman Church 6,150,000
Most christian churches believe in one God, baptism, the forgiveness of sins, holy communion and eternal life. They primarily preach the gospel and assist others in achieving grace from God through their faith in his son Jesus Christ. They also provide services for marriages, baptism, education, counseling, etc., etc..
Most christian churches rely on donations from their congregations to finance their activites and therefore are always looking for volunteers to provide services that will help them to reduce their overall cost. This is good for you because it allows you the opportunity to assist the church in doing God's work here on earth. These acts of kindness also give you the satisfaction of complying with the First Commandment " Love your neighbor as yourself " (you're helping others).
On Sunday morning when you get up, dress up a little bit (your going to God's house so don't wear shorts, a Led Zepphelin t-shirt and your "I drink a lot" hat). Run over to the local church and when everybody's going in, just go in with them. Once inside you walk over to an empty pew and have a seat. Normally you would genuflect before entering the pew but it isn't mandatory. Also most people kneel down after entering the pew and say a short prayer prior to sitting, but this also is optional. You'll feel awkward and out of place at first but you'll settle in when the service starts.
During the service just follow what everybody else does. At different times you may be sitting or standing or kneeling. During communion you have the option of taking the bread/wine or not, but being a newcomer you should not because you're probably unaware of what it signifies. The service should last about an hour and should be pretty tranquill and peaceful unless the pastor gives a rousing fire and brimstone sermon.
When it's over just get up and walk out with everybody else and smile and nod your head. Overall it's not a bad place to spend an hour a week and it gives you a little different perspective on the world you live in. It's also kind of a relaxing hour that you won't find in most places on earth.
If you were bored it's because you were not paying attention. You must have missed out on glorifying God, the bible stories, the sermon, taking of the eucharist and the closing of the service. It's like a sporting event. The more you know the players and the rules, the more invloved you become in the service and in the church and in Christianity itself.
So go back and try it again!
They need you as much as you need them.
St Patrick's Cathedral,
New York City