I have a confession. I love God, and I love the idea of church. And every week, when I get to church and I start worshipping, I remember all the reasons why I love that church even exists. I love that God created a way for his people to come together and worship and learn more about him.
And, yet. Every Sunday morning, I face a major battle with myself. I rarely, if ever, want to go to church. In fact, I dread it.
It may be the introvert thing, or the I’ve been hurt by church people thing, or the hermit tendencies thing. But I really just don’t look forward to church. Pretty much every week, I can think of a reason not to go. I’m usually pretty quiet or outright tense on Sunday mornings. Because I’m truly battling with myself. Staying home would be so much easier. So much more comfortable.
So every week, I have to keep myself from talking myself out of going. I don’t always succeed, and that’s okay. My salvation isn’t tied to my church attendance.
When I was grieving, I couldn’t go to church for months. It had nothing to do with how I felt about God, it was that we were at a newer church that wasn’t family and I felt too vulnerable. Every time I drew near to God, tears would start rolling in the most frustrating way and I literally couldn’t stop them. So I avoided church for awhile and prayed and cried in private.
I know people that would rather die than miss a service, even to the point of skipping vacations and family weddings in favor of not missing church, and I know Pastors that encourage that kind of loyalty. And I have nothing against that mindset. I just don’t share it. I’m okay with missing church once in awhile.
My favorite time with God is when it’s just us. The quiet prayer time, the worship songs I sing as I’m starting my day. Cuddled on a couch, reading His word and feeling His presence. I logically know that God wants us to fellowship with believers, and I know that we are designed to need others, and I know that God gave us each gifts to build His church up. But honestly, I feel like I could serve God and walk with God just fine on my own.
I know that’s not a popular thing to say, and I also know I’m wrong. It’s a heart attitude I’ve been struggling with for decades. One of my favorite escapes is to imagine that my family and I live on a deserted island. Because life is hard sometimes. And I’ve never thought, oh wait… what about church?
Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate the church immensely and I’ve spent over 20 years joyfully serving in various ministries. I know that it’s God’s way for us.
There are many things I love about church, once I get there. I love singing corporately, I love learning from the message. I love communion. I love, love, love, when people give their lives to God. I love forging friendships that turn into families. I love teaching kids about God’s word.
So why is it so hard to get there?
I could say that the enemy is trying to keep me away, and that may be true on some level. I do believe it’s a spiritual battle. Or maybe this is just the thorn in my flesh… I don’t desire what is good and right for me. I have to force myself to do what God calls us to do.
I know I should be thankful we have the freedom to worship publicly without persecution. I should be thankful that I’m not underground, risking my life each time I go to church. And I am, truly. But so far, that hasn’t changed the fact that I dread going to church each week.
I don’t know why I wanted to share this with you today, except to say that if you feel this way, too, I understand. And to say to you: Don’t give up, keep battling yourself and just go.
And if you don’t feel this way, there are probably people you’re sitting next to each week that do. You never know how hard it was for someone to get there that week, even someone who loves God and seems happy to be there.
And if your husband or wife or kid seems to resist going each week, just keep them in prayer, show them grace, and let them know you’re happy when they do go.
I still don’t really know why I am this way, but I’ve come to accept that it may be a battle I have to fight until the end of my days. If that’s so, I’m okay with it, because I’ve got God on my side.
Do you dread church, or look forward to it?