Wednesday, October 30, 2013

When You Don't Want To Go To Church (Part 1)

The problem with infrequent posts is that the more time that goes by, the fewer posts that make it by my personal filters. Lots of them are sitting in draft purgatory, until I get passionate about them enough to keep going and finally hit "publish."

Here's a topic that comes up every once in a while. See what you think.

Sunday morning church-going is a habit that was instilled in me as a child. I realize it may be partly a cultural thing, but I view it as a key part of being able to hold onto my faith (while God held onto me). No, I don't always feel spiritually-engaged, but it's a discipline, just like reading your Bible (which I'm worse at)-you just keep doing it and trust that it is taking root and will eventually bear fruit.

There are people who go to church and don't believe, but this post isn't about them. This post is about people who believe, but don't go to church. I find this a quite perplexing problem. To me, a person who has found God will inevitably be drawn to fellowship. This begs the question: does it have to be a specific body of people that meets regularly?

Andrei and I role-played a bit about this, after discussing an article about Christian "free-lancers." These are people who freelance not as a job but as a church member. They visit 2 or more churches, having friendly relations with people in each. They hang out with believing friends during the week and attend various church events. They might participate in an occasional service event. And they consider this flitting about a perfectly legitimate form of fellowship. (note: I haven't read "Stop Dating the Church" by Josh Harris, but I'm thinking maybe it hits on this?)

Well, I thought it was ridiculous. Okay, inter-church fellowship is great, but if you are not in any one church for less than 50% of the month, are you really committed? Can you really have meaningful relationships in that situation? Are you really participating in the life of the Body? And what about accountability? 

But my main point was that people who can't commit to one church probably have some other reason. I think there is some hurt or fear or resentment beneath the surface. But I can't prove it. So I guess Andrei won the role-play. I can't prove that people can't be content without Christ, either. It's not a logical argument sort of thing.

Revisiting the church attendance thing, though. What keeps you from going to your main church on a Sunday morning?

To be continued...


  1. Well, this is an interesting topic. Right now I go to one church, and work at another. The one I work at is the one I used to - well, not just "go to" but almost live at. It was the center of our lives, absolutely. Then, it merged with another nearby parish, threw our lives into turmoil, and hurt a lot of people we loved and considered family. It was horribly painful. Obviously, I hung on, but I really do not like worshiping here. I do it when it is the most convenient Mass to attend, and as far as being a member of it, and involved in it - of course I am! Actually it is only the Sunday Mass that is somehow hard for me. At the other parish, I feel much more a dynamic worshipper, but I am not involved in anything else (yet, because I know a lot of the people and stand around after church talking for an sort of seems like I am)... So, my situation may be unique, but I bet everyone's is. There are some things that resonate in one place, and other things in another. I guess I wouldn't think it optimal, but since a lot of people don't go to church at all, I wouldn't quibble!

    1. I hadn't thought of that. Now that you mention, I know several people who work at one church and attend another. I know you've been through a difficult situation and it isn't that you are picky about choosing where to go. I guess it isn't always a discipline issue but can be one of intimacy. You can be "friendly" with people at both churches, but are there people in at least one of the congregations who really know you and what you're going through? I mean, I'm sure there are people who travel/commute and have to go back and forth, but handle the church commitment question in different ways.

  2. I had a realization in college---if you go to church alone, sit alone...etc, it's hard to continue! I did it once...but the other times I went with or sat with people I knew:)

    1. That's funny, because as I was thinking about your comment, I realize that it can go both ways. I challenge myself on purpose so I'll meet people. Although going with a friend might help you network, I often end up hiding behind whomever I came with, depending on who is the more talkative one! Especially if you're in a big girl group that likes to stick together. Sticking yourself in a row with all strangers is a sure way to meet somebody new. But I agree that once you are making return visits it is important to see some familiar faces. No one wants to feel like a constant stranger.


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