Why They Go to Church

“THE Republic of Korea now has nearly four times as many Presbyterians as America.” That statement in Newsweek magazine might have surprised many readers, since most people think of Korea as a Confucian or Buddhist society. Today, a visitor will find a good many “Christian” churches there, usually identified by red neon crosses. On Sundays, it is common to see people in twos and threes, Bibles in hand, going to church. According to a 1998 survey, nearly 30 percent of Korean people go to either a Catholic or a Protestant church, more than those who claim to be Buddhists.

In this day and age, it is unusual to see such a high percentage of people anywhere going to church regularly. Still, it is happening not only in Korea but also in other Asian countries, as well as in Africa and Latin America. Why do so many still profess belief in God when apathy and indifference to religion seem to be sweeping the earth? Why do they go to church?

A Gallup survey revealed that more than half of Korea’s churchgoers are searching for peace of mind; about a third hope for eternal life after death; and 1 in 10 look for health, riches, and success.

Many people in China flock to the churches in hopes of finding something to fill the spiritual void that has resulted as capitalistic aspirations gradually displace Communist ideology. Every year, millions of copies of the Bible are printed and distributed in China, and people seem to be reading it the way they did Mao’s little red book.

Some Catholics in Brazil, especially those of the younger generation, are not content with the promise of happiness in the life to come​—they want fulfillment now. The news magazine Tudo observes: “If it was liberation theology that moved  heart and mind in the ’70’s, it is the theology of prosperity today.” A survey in Britain asked church attenders there to name one thing they liked about their church. Fellowship invariably came first.

All of this shows that while a considerable number of people still believe in God, most are more concerned about what they can get now than about what is to come​—or even about God himself. What do you think is the right reason for believing in God? What does the Bible have to say on the matter? You will find the answer in the next article.