Earlier this week, as a newly elected US Senator prepared to take office, he wrote an editorial outlining what he thought our country needs today. I won’t cite the article directly since it was understandably political, but twice he said that one of the institutions that we need is strong churches. I would not presume to know precisely what he meant by strong churches, but I agree that we need them and I have my own ideas as to why. (I would amend by saying we need strong houses of worship of all religions.)

The people of the United States need strong churches today because, in an age when many seem to believe that both truth and morality are relative, there need to be institutions that proclaim that there are truths that are inviolable and there is a moral standard that should not be compromised.

We need strong churches because we need to support families in their job of raising mature, ethical, and loving adults, and we need people who will uphold those values even when they are absent from the home.

We need strong churches because we need to be reminded — frequently — that there are more important priorities than simply protecting ourselves and our interests; that we are responsible for the care of our environment and for those who cannot care for themselves.

We need strong churches because we need havens where we can go to escape the crassness, commercialism, hedonism, competition, and hurry of our culture. We need places where we can be quiet; where we can be reverent; where we can pray. In a world that is often ugly and violent we need churches that are not only strong but places of beauty and serenity.

We need strong churches because we need role models who will show us how to live in subjection to God and in relation with our fellow human beings. We need to show each other what that looks like and help each other to get closer to that model.

We need strong churches because our world is in a constant state of change and we need to be able to go to a place where, though we respect progress and welcome innovation, we focus on the eternal and unchanging God.

We need strong churches because there need to be institutions where people can use their God-given talents and abilities, and where they can invest their time and energy in something that is bigger than themselves.

We all know that there is much that is wrong with the Church as a whole and individual churches as well, but they seem to be one of the important ways that God works in the world, and so God needs them to be strong.

I personally believe that it is specifically in Christian churches, to the extent that they truly are the body of Christ on earth, that these traits are most fully embodied, but I choose not to argue with those who feel otherwise. I want to encourage my brothers and sisters of other faiths to do as much to strengthen their churches and synagogues and mosques and other houses of worship as I hope we will for ours.

However, churches are not so much institutions as they are collectives of people. And thus they are only as strong as the individuals who comprise them. That brings us to the point of all this: If you agree that our nation needs strong churches, what are you doing to strengthen the one to which you belong?