You want to know something? I haven’t been to church in two weeks. For some of you, this may not seem like a big deal; for others, this could be shameful. This would typically bring about the question of what I would need to do in order to maintain proper fellowship with my church community, and believe me, I’m working on that. However, I’ve recently been bothered by how much Christians focus on church attendance alone, rather than the importance of fellowship and continually building our relationship with Christ.
Growing up, my mother did a great job of ensuring I was going to church often. Now that I’ve had to take on my own responsibility of making sure I’m going to church, I don’t go as often as most people think I should. There are actually three main reasons for this, and to be clear – I’m not using any of these as excuses to not go to church, but rather helping people understand where my struggles lie.
To start, I’m an introvert. What does this have to do with church per say? A lot actually. I generally struggle socializing for too long regardless of who the person is and in a church setting, socializing can be a big deal. Everyone wants to say hello and catch up on each other’s lives. I love that church communities do this; it just happens to overwhelm me sometimes.
On top of this, I believe it’s important to have a day of rest. This is typically supposed to be on Sunday, and with how scripture tends to phrase it – I’m supposed to find rest with the Lord. Finding rest in the Lord can be very helpful with a church community; for myself, however, I sometimes need to find rest in the Lord in the quiet of my own home. This is typically due to weeks that are heavily loaded with necessary social situations, and by the time Sunday rolls around, I’m completely out of energy to properly socialize and discuss faith with my peers. In times like this, I tend to be more rejuvenated through a personal study of scripture.
Lastly, there was a point in my life where I was fairly consistent with going to church regularly. Then I realized that I was having a hard time gaining anything spiritually. I was just going through the motions of the week. Go to work Monday through Friday, do something with friends or family on Saturday, attend church on Sunday, repeat. I wasn’t really thinking about anything. It was like I was a robot
I used to feel ashamed for not going to church regularly because I felt it so necessary to be there every single Sunday. Then at some point I realized that I should be more ashamed for not building my faith and my relationship with the Lord more.
So the question is: Why was I so focused on being ashamed for my church attendance? Well, depending on where you’re attending, church attendance can determine everything. It can determine how involved you’re allowed to be, if you’re qualified for leadership, etc. It’s understandable why churches focus on it; more often than not, it’s primarily to check how many people are at church each week, and they may not want someone to get involved so quickly and then leave. However, in an indirect way – it determines your faithfulness to the church itself. In my desire to be a leader, I wanted to be sure the church understood that I believed my attendance was important when the reality was that it shouldn’t have been my focus.
Our faithfulness shouldn’t be directed towards the church. It should be directed towards God. Yes, the church helps maintain the faith, but you CANNOT rely on the church to give you faith 24/7. There’s a lot of personal work that has to go into that as well. When you direct your faith at the church and focus solely on the church, you run the risk of making the church your idol.
We’ve become too comfortable with the regular. Do I think church needs to end? Absolutely NOT. I think church is a wonderful tool for fellowship. The problem is that many of us are fine with just going through the motions every week, or place our focus on something that we’ve grown up believing is important when it might not be as important as we think. However, we have to remember what is most important – the Lord. If you read this blog regularly, or if you’re looking for a challenge: I encourage you to find new ways to develop your faith, whether that be in a social setting or a personal setting.
This week, I don’t leave you with a verse, but rather a worship song I was reminded of. It’s The Motions by Matthew West. I found it to be rather fitting for this week as I was meditating on the subject of church attendance.