Recently my Sunday School class read Not a Fan. It's a good read but comes from a different theological perspective. One thing we all noticed about the book is that there really isn't anything about the church's role in discipleship formation. According to this book, it's all just between Jesus and you. And it's totally up to you whether you remain a "fan" or become a real "follower" of Jesus. There is nothing about Christian friends or how the church can support people in their faith journey, and there certainly isn't anything about the Sacraments as a vehicle for God's grace.
This got me thinking. Why do we "do" church? For one thing, the church is the body of Christ on earth. We United Methodists, like many denominations, take being the everyday hands and feet of Christ very seriously.The church can mediate God's spiritual presence, but it is also meant to be physically present--to clothe the naked, feed the hungry, and house the homeless. As Jesus said the poor may always be with us, but that doesn't mean that we don't do our part to end poverty. But we don't "do" church, because we are the church for better and worse.
Our local church really strives to be the body of Christ. It is mission orientated. This is not to say that there aren't some who just occasionally or casually attend. We have our share of pew warmers, but they are the minority. Our church also strives to be supportive of and pray for each other. Recently, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I've been touched by all the prayer support. Fortunately, it was caught very early and I'll be OK. For now, it's just a major inconvenience. But I know I can count on my church family.
And frankly, sometimes when a person is too broken or too weary to be a follower, in the church we have fellow pilgrims who will help us stay on the path. You can't be a solitary follower of Christ because following is a group/church activity.