October 11, 2015

The Habit of Church Attendance

I know that some people will cringe at this and I am sorry because I think I know why.  What that cringe usually means is that you have been hurt in a church at some point in your life and you don't ever want to be there again. You know that is not God's fault right?  I hope you know that...  God never commands us to treat people they way you may have been treated.  The whole "free will" issue means people sometimes do really stupid things without God's permission and often times that includes hurting others and giving God a bad name in the process.

I can tell you that I have been hurt, too.  I have been lied to and lied about, talked down to, ignored, gossiped about, jerked around, used against my husband, told I could not speak my opinion in a business meeting, criticized in front of an entire congregation for not believing what some human made up instead of being encouraged to know God's truth and had someone even insinuate that I am not "saved."  People are flawed and sinful and can hurt you deeply.  I think it is worse when it comes from people in church because it should not... but it does.

I have learned, though, that we are meant to live in community.  We are made to worship and we should not worship alone on a regular basis.  We are meant to love each other and encourage one another and come to the aid of our fellow spiritual family members.  Then, we should take all that community and reach out to a hurting, lost and dying world.

From a very young age I have been a church attender.  I have attended the worship service and Sunday School all my life.  I have not always loved every minute I spent in church but I don't go for people... I go because God says I should go (see Hebrews 10:25).  It is not my job to love every single thing I do every minute of every day but it is my job to be obedient.  What is worse... telling God you will and then not doing it or telling God you won't and doing it anyway because He told you to?  (see Matthew 21:28-32)

What do you do if you struggle with church?


1.  Pray - Pray for those who have hurt you. (Luke 6:28) Pray for your heart and perspective to line up with God's desire for you.  Pray for your church.  Pray for the community, leadership and ministries that need people with obedient hearts to do the will of God.

2.  Commit - Commit to be there every Sunday that you can.  Set that time aside, get your family up, and just go.  If it is not a place you feel like you can worship anymore then find another fellowship that you can be a part of.  I suspect, like me, that your heart needs to change, too.  Nothing is ever just one sided.  Please read this before you make a move, though.... it is truth!  (Proverbs 16:3)

3.  Connect - with a small group or fellowship group that you can have a closer relationship with outside of the larger church.  Most churches call this "cell groups."  These are typically people living life similarly to you that may have the same struggles and triumphs.  It can be within the church or a gathering of Christian friends from a variety of churches.  Make your gatherings fellowship, food, study/discussion time, prayer time oriented.  Make it all about God's word and His plan for your group and church.  There is a bigger picture and mission you have.  You are to reach out and bring others to Christ like Andrew did in the Bible.  Keep it spiritually oriented and not a gossip/backbiting session.  It has to stay focused on Jesus to work.  Seek out truth together and help each other to live that truth throughout the week.  (1 Corinthians 14:26)

4.  Contact - find those closest Christian friends and make contact throughout the week... through phone calls, texts, e-mail, Facebook, for coffee or a lunch outing or just a trip to a bookstore or a park with all your children in tow.  Just find a way to get together and encourage one another (1 Thess. 5:11) and live in community together as Christ calls us to.  The more relationships from the church you develop outside of church the more likely you are to want to be there on Sundays, too.  The biggest warning here is not to become cliquish.  Leave room to add new people to that circle as you see that you need them and they need you.  God never intended for us to live this life alone.

5.  Persevere - Do not give up on God's people because, you know what, He has not!  We fall and we fail on a daily, hourly, and sometimes minute by minute basis.  God is worth it.... His people are worth it... His Church is worth it!  He has a place and a role for you somewhere in that community. Trust and obey Him and He will show you just where you belong.  Romans 12 gives us a picture of what real Church should look like.... hang in there!  Some day we get to be part of the perfect Church and be with Christ forever with no more of this petty junk to contend with.


For Further Reading:

Eight Reasons It's Easier Not to Attend Church Today
Thom S. Ranier's blog is fantastic in addressing and
starting conversations about church health

This one is tongue in cheek but quite thought provoking
8 Reasons You Should Avoid Your Local Church

Is Going to Church Really Necessary?



4 comments:

  1. Well-though out post - we have a group of friends from a number of local churches who have met together for over 30 years. Such a tremendous gift in our lives as empty nesters, though not without working out issues over the years as in any relationship. The blessings of weekly church attendance overflow in one's life in so many ways.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Frances! I am so glad you stopped by and that this message resonated with you in some way. Thank you for the encouragement! :)

      Delete
  2. Well said, Leann! I agree.

    ReplyDelete

LinkWithin

Blog Widget by LinkWithin